Kristoffer Ace Reynes – Senior Executive Sous Chef at Sun Siyam Iru Fushi

We had the chance to interview Kristoffer Ace Reynes, the Senior Executive Sous Chef at Sun Siyam Iru Fushi. He found his culinary passion in childhood gatherings, which led him from the Philippines to Norway and back. With over nine years at Sun Siyam Iru Fushi, Kristoffer infuses each dish with global flavours.

In the interview, Kristoffer went into detail about how he and his team cater to diverse palates and dietary needs, blending authenticity with innovation. He explained that they embrace local ingredients and Maldivian traditions, creating memorable dining experiences while staying ahead of culinary trends with initiatives like super-food counters and expanded vegan options.

What inspired you to choose a culinary career and drew you to work at Sun Siyam Iru Fushi?

I started my professional career as a travel specialist for a business processing outsourcing company that handles one of the biggest online booking platforms for hotels and flights. After four years of working with them, I felt I needed to pursue my passion. I am lucky to have grown up in a family where food was always the highlight of all gatherings. At an early age, I was already exposed to the kitchen. I grew up with my grandmother, who was a great cook. She was always meticulous in the kitchen. Every ingredient and process is precise. Every dish she made was a masterpiece. I believe that was one of the reasons that drew me to the kitchen. So, I took a sabbatical and left for Norway, where my brothers were based at the time. I took that time off as an opportunity to think deeply about where I would like to proceed with my career while working on the side, in restaurants, and on farms. After a while, I decided to go back to the Philippines, and it was then that I decided to enrol myself in culinary school at the Asian School of Hospitality Arts, majoring in professional cooking. I started my culinary journey with Sofitel, having worked with their Manila and Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia, properties until I got the opportunity to work in the Maldives. I have been in the Maldives for more than nine years now, and I have been with Sun Siyam Iru Fushi for more than five years already. Sun Siyam Iru Fushi opened its doors to me when I joined the resort as the Head Chef for Bamboo Restaurant, the Asian and Teppanyaki restaurant of the resort. 

How do you and your team create a diverse dining experience that caters to various tastes and dietary needs of guests?

Catering to different taste palates requires a tremendous amount of experience and expertise. I am grateful to be working with such a fantastic team that helps me ensure that we deliver nothing but the best dining experience for every guest who comes to the resort. I personally travel and do food immersions as part of my commitment to learning and understanding the different culinary cultures that define the tastes and preferences of each guest who visits Sun Siyam Iru Fushi. It is also my responsibility to ensure that my team is well-trained in terms of potential hazards that may affect not only the guests’ dining experience but also their safety. Thus, regular trainings on food allergens and intolerances are conducted to ensure that each member of the Sun Siyam Iru Fushi culinary team is equipped with the accurate knowledge to confidently cater and curate delectable dishes that are tailor-fitted to every guest and require extra care and attention to their food.

What unique culinary creation or special recipe did you and your team come up with during your tenure at Sun Siyam Iru Fushi?

We have several dining options at Sun Siyam Iru Fushi, where guests can enjoy an exhaustive menu that caters to every guest’s craving. From Asian to French, Indian to beach grill to Italian and the buffet. Every dish is carefully crafted to ensure that we provide authentic and true-to-their-origins dishes as much as possible. We put a premium on the sanctity of the classics. What is special, though, is that each of our restaurants offers a chef’s signature creation daily that not only allows the chefs to showcase their extraordinary flair in making innovative and unique dishes but also adds to our guests’ unique dining experience. Being able to understand and cater to the different taste palates of our guests, who come from varying culinary cultures, I guess, is worthy of mention. The ability to provide exhaustive dining options for every clientele is both challenging and rewarding. I pride myself when I say that our tailor-fit approach, either personal preferences or strict dietary requirements, has become a constant highlight of our guests’ experience. My team’s ability to carefully curate dishes provides every guest with a worry-free holiday experience. 

How do you infuse the essence of Maldivian flavours and culinary traditions into your dishes to create a unique and memorable dining experience?

I strongly advocate for going local in the sense that we maximise the incorporation of local produce into our menus. Whatever the dining concept is or the theme of the restaurant, it is almost guaranteed that a Maldivian ingredient is part of the diner’s flavour experience, from locally caught reef fish to locally harvested tomatoes to grated coconut to the very popular Maldivian chilli and many more. Not only do we get to highlight the local produce of the Maldives, but it also highlights my contribution to the resort’s sustainability goals.

How do you keep your culinary creations fresh and in tune with the latest trends?

A lot has evolved in the culinary scene across the world, from the rapid rise of plant-forward consumers to functional foods, sustainable food practices, and carbonless dining experiences. I think everyone who is engaged in the food business or food production understands how important it is to be able to adapt to current and relevant food trends. More travellers are now considering opting for hotels and resorts that cater to these modern trends. Travellers are more health and environment-conscious, so it would be wise for any organisation to invest and ensure that they are able to welcome these clients. At Sun Siyam Iru Fushi, we have introduced super-food counters and a dedicated gluten-free and vegan corner to our buffet. Also in the pipeline is the expansion of our vegan and vegetarian dishes across all outlets in Sun Siyam, Iru Fushi. Adaptability and innovation are crucial.