The Big Climb: Nicola Rossi
What attracted you to the position of executive sous chef?
I have worked under the Four Seasons umbrella in Riyadh, KSA, and respect the brand the hotel has built. F&B is a major USP at all properties and each outlet caters the ultimate dining experience to their target clientele, regardless of cuisine and location. Dubai is famous for its burgeoning dining scene, especially the DIFC area with a plethora of the best eateries in the city, so it was an attractive challenge. The opportunity to work under a Mina Group restaurant, and bring my Mediterranean take on an American, French-inspired brasserie is just what I needed to push me to the next chapter of my career. Now here is a chance to learn and contribute to the patronage of a renowned global chef, in a dynamic location, with one of the best hotel chains in the world.
How have your past experiences lent themselves to your expertise in this role?
With over 19 years of culinary experience under my belt, most of which was spent traversing various Italian kitchens, I was able to sharpen my skills both with technique and manipulating ingredients. Food is a passion that runs deep within my veins. It’s all I have ever known watching my grandfather, father, and uncle run their own restaurant businesses, so there is some business acumen I picked up along the way as well. Coming into an already successful establishment and raising the bar even further can be a task, but it is one I am prepared for and excited to undertake.
What are you most looking forward to as part of this new role?
To learn as well as build a team that I can teach. Even as an executive sous chef, you are always learning, adapting, and growing. I want to cultivate my skills while mentoring a team that I can help reach their own professional goals, all the while working towards taking MINA Brasserie to new heights. The menu is already a big hit, and I’d love to add some Mediterranean fare along the way.
How do you intend to increase the popularity of MINA Brasserie?
The venue is already known and loved within the city, so customers can rely and depend on what is in store for them at MINA Brasserie — a true, blue dining experience. They key is to change things up — not to the point of shock but to keep things new, interesting, and exciting. This allows me to engage with my team, exchange knowledge, and apply certain elements, be it menu items, service, or presentation, and work in adherence to the Mina Group and Four Seasons standards — that is putting the customer first. Establishments sometimes fail to listen to their audience. I am here to listen and give them what they want and hopefully more!
Can you share your thoughts on sustainability issues? Is there anything you and MINA Brasserie will be doing to improve sustainability?
MINA Brasserie does take steps towards sustainability; for example, we use fruit rinds and residues to create some of the signature cocktails. We also use seasonal fish in our seafood dishes to avoid the epidemic of over-fishing. All are efforts to minimise waste and become more sustainable. Greater steps are in the pipeline and we are just working out how to do this whilst not compromising on quality and experience.
What is your favourite thing about the brand?
The perfect balance between being a celebrity chef concept and maintaining international Four Seasons standards. It is the perfect partnership and balance, and a great career graph for any chef. I like everything about the brand in general, from the vibe — that is as classic and sophisticated as it is modern and youthful — to the cuisine, which is an ode to Michael Mina’s gastronomical genius.