Daniel Olurin, Executive Chef of Maison Fahrenheit, started his professional career as a chef back in London for a few years. His love for travelling and culinary expedition took him to the United Arab Emirates where he set up the first African Fusion restaurant in Dubai called KIZA. In this interview with MARY NNAH, he talks about his journey back to Nigeria where he continues to explore all things culinary. Excerpts:
What do you find most challenging about your job?
We chefs go through several challenges within the industry but if I’m to pick one out, it will be that we are sometimes undervalued in this part of the continent. There’s a misconception that says “food is food”. I stand to correct this because being a chef is not just about cooking a random meal. A lot of training and expertise goes into the art of being a chef. It’s a profession and Culinary Arts is indeed a form of art and such masterpieces must be celebrated and rewarded.
What inspired your career in culinary art?
The Arts is something I was born to do. It’s my life, it’s my passion. From a very young age, I dreamt of living a life where my dreams would be valid and I’ll be able to evoke change within my industry. Food has always been my first love and being able to consistently merge it with total hospitality experience remains very fulfilling.
What’s your international experience as a chef?
I started my professional career as a chef immediately after completing my Chef Training and Studies in Aviation back in London, UK. I worked as a chef for a few years within the music industry where I was able to meet a host of A List music artists. This was very fulfilling but my love for travelling and culinary expedition took me to the United Arab Emirates to set up the first African Fusion restaurant in Dubai called KIZA. This was a very rewarding journey but my love for Africa brought me to Nigeria where I continue to explore and redefine.
Tell us about your engagement with the Maison brand and is there an extra motivation for clients to want their events hosted here?
Maison Fahrenheit is a unique space. The conceptual design inspiration is very avant-garde, therefore making it a space that is well sought after. We host series of events here ranging from Fashion Parties to Friday night rooftop parties to specially curated events such the upcoming Valentines three-course dining experience. There’s always something new happening here at Maison Fahrenheit.
Maison Fahrenheit continues to maintain its position in the market as a trend setter and a one stop destination for the leisure travellers, business travellers and families who want that extra comfort, care and substance.
The reception of Maison Fahrenheit is basically as the saying goes “First Impressions are lasting impressions”. The thought behind the design is to welcome you with a few design elements that are translated as your journey through the entire hotel.
What makes your food unique?
Food is a personal affair for me and I am able to translate my thoughts, processes and feelings into the art of food. I want my guests to enjoy memorable mouth-watering experiences when they dine with me. It’s very important that I take my guests through a culinary experience, a journey that awakens their sensory glands and evoke the “Je ne sais quoi” factor.
Do your guests come here more for the food or more for the hospitality and comfort herein?
Hospitality encapsulates the total offerings of the brand and I must say that food is a muse of bringing people together. Majority of the guests that come to Maison enjoy a total lifestyle experience of Food, Fashion and Arts.
Asides the food, what would you recommend to a guest patronising Maison?
Maison Fahrenheit hospitality services are very personal. We make sure that every guest is personally catered to. Every department within the hotel makes it a priority to ensure that every guest remains extremely happy right from the point of checking in to enjoying the room service amenities and signature cocktails at the rooftop under the stars.
Valentine’s Day is coming; does the hotel have any plans to celebrate lovers’ day?
Valentine’s Day is a day we take very personal here and the year is going to be an amazing experience. We are doing a three-course Lover’s Affair Dinner at La Spiga. There will be also be a DJ till the early hours at the Rue80 rooftop where we are set to host the singles who just want to have fun in the urban trendy hotel.
How does this hotel make your job easy and fun?
For me, it is very important to align my brand with a brand that embodies my brand, my values and my objectives and Maison Fahrenheit is such brand that not only fulfils those values and qualities, but enables me to continually discover and rediscover elements of myself and that is why I love what I do. The hotel is a brand that is continually evolving so there are always fun factors here at work.
From your experience do people prefer to eat in their rooms or at the hotels restaurants?
Guests always have the freedom of choice to dine at any of our food and beverage outlets which range from La Spiga restaurant, Rue 80 Roof and of course at “WET” which is the poolside where a range of poolside canapés and cocktails can be enjoyed. Guests who want that little extra comfort without bumping into any familiar faces normally prefer to enjoy their freshly prepared cuisine in their rooms however, guests who want to interact with our team of friendly waiters and mixologists normally prefer to dine in style at the restaurant.
How easy would it be for me to book in and have a dinner, a quality rest and an early morning breakfast before I catch my first flight out of Lagos?
The location of the Hotel is right in the heart of Victoria Island and is at close proximity to most major destinations including the international airport. All the rooms are very comfortable and promote good rest, breakfast is always served early and all our guests have the option of having their breakfast in the rooms or enjoying a beautiful array of options in the restaurant.
What is your best cuisine?
I’ve always loved being able to enjoy a variety of world class cuisines. As a chef, I have been rather partial to generally loving the African palate. Senegalese Wolof is divine, the Kenyan Nyama Choma is epic, the Ghanaian Waakye is indeed phenomenal and my love for the Italian Pasta remains undisputed.
I know there are a few chains between purchase and the kitchen department. But do you have an idea about where and how the food items are sourced for your store?
As an Executive Chef, it is my duty to ensure that I remain aware of where we source our produce from and to continually ensure that we work with the right farmers and suppliers. Food is a major part of our line of business so we must ensure that we have the freshest and organic produces from our suppliers. Supporting local farmers is something I am very passionate about.
How do you meet the issue of culture and diversity in food as an international hotel?
It’s important that we continually cater to our diverse range of clientele as this has been one of the unique factors guests continually admire the hotel for. Our food menu caters to an extensive range of pallets as well as special dietary requirements. All our chefs are trained and certified and continue to undergo on the job training in emerging market trends in the food industry.
Do you believe hotels should have brand ambassadors? Do you have any?
Every staff that works in the hotel is a brand ambassador. They are the voices of the hotel and they ones who do majority of the interactions with guests. They are the ones who see and hear what our guests need so it’s very important that they continue to embody all the elements of what it takes to be a brand ambassador.