Chef Mohamed Adil is the Executive Sous Chef at the luxurious Fairmont Maldives, Sirru Fen Fushi. With a rich decade-long immersion in the world of hospitality, Chef Adil has served several esteemed hotel brands and properties with his culinary expertise.
In this exclusive interview, Adil spoke about his culinary journey, drawing inspiration from his experiences and offering valuable insights into his inventive culinary philosophy.
I was born on Mathiveri Island in Alifu Alifu Atoll, and my early years were spent on Hithadhoo Island in Addu City. As a child, I was always brimming with energy and heavily engaged in extracurricular activities. After completing my secondary education in Sri Lanka, I began working alongside my father in his retail business. However, it didn’t take long, just nine months, to realize that I wanted to do something more meaningful in life.
The turning point came when I stumbled upon the Four Seasons Maldives Apprenticeship program. Along with a friend who was interested in joining, I impulsively decided to attend the interview, partly because it was scorching hot outside. Much to my delight, I was fortunate enough to be accepted into the program. Over the course of my training, I had the privilege of working in various kitchens, where I delved into the intricacies of different cuisines. While growing up, I had always been exposed to art, primarily in the form of my father’s paintings. Little did I know that I would eventually discover a different kind of artistry on a plate, and that’s where I truly found my calling.
After completing the program, I was offered my first position at Four Seasons as a steward where I began honing my foundational skills in Western cuisine amidst the clatter of pots and pans. During this time, I made a resolute decision – I aspired to become one of the finest Maldivian chefs, carving out a remarkable culinary path for myself.
For me, inspiration can strike from just about anywhere. Sometimes, it happens during leisurely walks or while watching a mesmerizing sunset. Even a simple sight, like observing a couple walking hand in hand, can ignite my imagination and conjure up stories in my mind.
But most often, my creativity is sparked by the ingredients themselves. For instance, my culinary instincts kick in when I come across exceptionally fresh tuna. I recall various cooking methods and start experimenting to create something delightful with that pristine tuna. Inspiration can be drawn from the natural beauty of the surroundings, the quality of ingredients, or a desire to weave a compelling narrative through my culinary creations.
Furthermore, I’m always on the lookout for new ingredients that hit the market. In this era, many chefs embrace cutting-edge techniques like molecular gastronomy and other scientific approaches. When encountering such innovative ingredients, I eagerly explore them and craft dishes that showcase these novel culinary technologies.
To kick start my day, I head to the office, where I dive into my email inbox, chart out my day’s plan, and give the green light to any pending store requests. Following that, I make my way to Raha Market to ensure that the most important meal of the day, breakfast, runs seamlessly.
Upon entering the kitchen, I warmly greet all the hardworking staff in action and check if they need any immediate assistance. I also conduct random checks on the chillers, temperature logs, and the overall cleanliness of the kitchen.
At 8:50 a.m., I head to the morning meeting room, where we convene to discuss daily operations, address any hiccups from the previous day, and relay important messages to our exceptional team members. After the meeting, I visit our colleague’s kitchen to ensure their operation is running smoothly and offer assistance if needed. Then, I return to Raha to oversee the breakfast service and personally greet any guests in the restaurant to ensure they’re enjoying their experience at our wonderful property.
Around 10:40 a.m., I head back to the office to prepare for our departmental morning meeting at 11 a.m. During this meeting, we cover topics such as in-house guest updates, statistics, upcoming special events, challenges, a recap of the previous day’s operation, and any messages from the higher-ups. Once the meeting concludes, I review my daily tasks and start working on them.
When it’s time for lunch service, I revisit the colleague’s kitchen to ensure that the food meets our high standards. Following this, I return to Raha, where I actively participate in the lunch service, offering support to the team throughout. Simultaneously, I also move between Onu Onu Bar, our lively social hub, Azure, our fine seafood dining restaurant, and Kata, our Japanese restaurant, both of which are open for dinner only.
Currently, we’re focused on tasks like developing new menus, calculating recipe costs, refining standard operating procedures (SOPs), and conducting training sessions. As the dinner service approaches, I shuffle between these three outlets, especially during destination dinners and special orders, which can get quite hectic. Maintaining consistency and quality is a challenging but essential aspect of my role when I’m hands-on during the dinner operation. Once the dinner service is running smoothly, I return to the office to approve dry store requests and transfers, and ensure a seamless operation for the following day.
We are deeply committed to sustainable sourcing and celebrating the rich heritage of our country. One of our most cherished initiatives involves partnering closely with the local communities, who supply us with the freshest seafood imaginable – live lobster, octopus, squid, a variety of reef fish, conch shell, crab, and tuna.
Additionally, we are fortunate to have access to a diverse range of organic fruits and vegetables, all grown right here in our beautiful nation. These exceptional ingredients take the center stage on our menus, and we proudly offer an array of local dishes in our outlets.
Every Friday, we host a Maldivian theme night buffet, where our guests have the privilege of savoring the authentic flavors of our homeland, expertly prepared by our talented culinary team.
Allow me to tantalize your taste buds with a few of our culinary creations: picture yourself indulging in ceviche crafted with tender coconut, refreshing crudo dishes featuring a delightful mango frappe base, or succulent lobster paired with a mouthwatering mango curry. And for those seeking a sweet treat, take advantage of our lobster ice cream or the refreshing guava-chilled soup-based dessert.
But that’s not all. We offer an authentic traditional Maldivian experience with our “malaafaiy keyun” for guests yearning to immerse themselves in the local cuisine. This extraordinary dining experience comes complete with captivating bodu beru performers, adding an extra layer of authenticity and excitement to your visit.
At our establishment, we take immense pride in showcasing our nation’s culinary treasures and our culinary team’s remarkable talents. It’s a passion that drives us to continuously explore, innovate, and serve the best of Maldivian flavors to our cherished guests.
During my early days in the culinary industry, my burning desire was to become someone truly relevant, someone whose skills could open doors and create unforgettable experiences. I understood that to achieve this, I needed to cultivate talents that would set me apart.
Japanese cuisine, a beloved art form cherished by many, held a special allure for me. I realized that not many locals possessed the precious skills required to master it, particularly the intricate art of Teppanyaki. This cooking style demanded more than just culinary prowess; it required direct interaction with guests, allowing me to build confidence in engaging with diners on a personal level.
Over the span of five enriching years dedicated to Japanese cuisine, I absorbed a wealth of new techniques and honed my skills. Today, I leverage this experience to craft innovative menus that combine the essence of traditional Japanese cuisine with my own unique twist.
You’ll often find me infusing elements from the Japanese culinary palette into unexpected places. Whether it’s using miso paste to elevate a classic French beurre blanc sauce or employing Kombu to delicately cure fish, or even harnessing the rich umami of bonito flakes to craft exquisite stocks and dressings – I embrace the fusion of flavors and techniques to create culinary delights that are as exciting as they are delicious.
For me, the journey through the world of Japanese cuisine has been a passionate pursuit of excellence, a relentless dedication to the craft, and a commitment to offering guests an unforgettable culinary adventure. It’s not just about making food; it’s about crafting experiences that linger in the hearts and taste buds of those who savor them.
Each and every achievement I’ve earned holds a special place in my heart, for they represent the dedicated investment of my time and unwavering commitment. However, the most cherished among them are those that allowed me to proudly represent the Maldives on the international stage. These achievements include securing a gold medal in Abu Dhabi, a bronze medal in China, and another bronze medal in Turkey.
Yet, if I were to single out the most significant milestone in my career, it would undoubtedly be the moment I clinched the title of “Best Maldivian Chef” in 2016 at the young age of 24. This achievement filled me with immense pride and served as a wellspring of confidence and motivation to dream even bigger.
Every accolade and triumph I’ve earned has pushed me forward, inspiring me to continue pushing boundaries and reaching new culinary heights. My fervent passion for this craft drives me to pursue excellence and share the flavors of the Maldives with the world.