Here’s what happens when the world’s top chefs come to Oman

T-Mag Wednesday 09/January/2019 19:35 PM
By: Times News Service
Here’s what happens when the world’s top chefs come to Oman
When we choose to follow our passion, our job ceases to be a tedious chore, and instead, turns into a hobby that we are happily willing to pursue for the rest of our lives. While there are many jobs that are your run-of-the-mill occupations, there are those, which simply would not work if you didn’t do them with a daily dose of passion and dedication. Just ask the world’s artists, sportsmen and musicians. Or in this case, chefs. Two world-famous chefs – Manolo Moscini and Peter Lloyd – who came to Oman to cook for guests at one of the Sultanate’s top hotels shared their culinary love story.
Born under the lofty mountains of central Italy, 41-year-old Manolo fell in love with cooking when his mother introduced him to the kitchen at just six years of age, teaching him the recipes of his little community of just 5,000 people. Known for his unique cooking style that combines the artistry of pizza making, with acrobatics, magic tricks, dancing, and a humorous clown act, he has travelled the world sharing his unique talent and passion for authentic Italian pizza.

On why he chose cooking as his passion:
“Cooking is the expression of culture in every corner of the planet, that’s why we live. We get together as a family to celebrate, to share, for a working represents the sharing and union of people. My cooking class first began when I was six or seven years old with my mother. Further down the line, I did experience some resistance, but I was always free to choose my path.
“I started travelling when I was 20 and quickly became passionate about the vastness of the world. Now, I love to travel and I feel very lucky that I get to visit beautiful parts of the world with my job.
“I have worked with a large number of chefs, artists, spiritual masters, and above all, with so many wonderful people. Among them is my brother-in-law, a Lebanese immigrant, who came to Italy many years ago and accompanied me in my first steps with making pizza.”

On why he chose pizza as his speciality:
“Pizza is the perfect food; round like a mandala, as dynamic as my attitude, colourful like a rainbow, and perfect for sharing around the table. Everyone eats pizza: from Italy to Australia and America to the Gulf. Above all, pizza is a part of my roots and I will always carry that with me to remind me where I come from.
“I worked very hard and continue to do so every day. Those memories are still present; sometimes, I am more fortunate with economics and other times, less, but my passion helps me to focus and serenity accompanies me every step of the way.”

On how he pursues his passions every day:
“Clearly, my colleagues and I are the tangible example that it is a profession suitable for everyone; however, it is not for me to judge anyone. At the end of my shows, I always say that a happy world is possible and I recommend that you follow your dreams, believe in yourself and never give up. I am totally devoted to the struggle for equality between the sexes and social classes and in this period of our society, I believe that we are beginning to feel a global sensibility to these issues. “Passion is the only engine that drives me to live and realise my dreams. I hope I never reach them, so I spend my time dreaming, learning and growing. “In life, everything moves constantly, everything is dynamic; the only thing to do is try to flow and live in the present, be it with sadness, joy, difficulty or splendour. Sometimes it’s difficult, and at other times it’s simple and I think it’s hard for everyone to achieve a balance, even if you live a routine life according to the standards of our society.”

Some of your fondest memories while pursuing your passion:
“A memory that will always stay with me was the first time I left Italy to go to Barcelona. I did not speak a word of Spanish, for weeks I struggled to adjust and had to live on a tight budget. It was hard but I believed in my goals and I knew it was just a matter of time. “My career is helping to improve the world. I’m not a big politician, not a spiritual leader, nor a very important doctor, but I have a good attitude and a strong connection with the kitchen. I like to believe that I bring my tiny grain of sand into the vast desert that is this universe.”
Chef Peter Lloyd: Making other people’s special moments memorable
While Chef Manolo’s journey began in Italy, Chef Peter Lloyd’s ’s began at the House of Commons. But when someone’s worked at the House of Commons, you naturally assume he’s involved in some way or another in the politics of the United Kingdom. Behind the scenes of the Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, there is a veritable army of people ensuring that the wheels of government always turn smoothly. Chef Peter Lloyd was among those who ensured that the men and women who were politicking inside were always well fed. That was way back in September 1992, and the British chef has since gone on to work at the famed Dorchester Hotel, before signing on at the RSJ Restaurant. Stints as Head Chef at The Room Restaurant and Simpsons at the Strand followed, before he took a break from commercial work to work as a private chef for Sir Anthony and Lady Bamford.
From working in kitchens in the heart of London, Peter moved on to working as a private chef on board Sir Anthony’s personal yacht. He’s since worked as Head Chef for the BANK restaurant, before moving onto the City Inn and the Sanderson Hotel and the W Hotel in London. He now works as the Chef Patron at Sticky Mango Restaurant, an Asian Fusion restaurant spread across three floors in London, having peaked at number one on TripAdvisor’s best restaurants in London for January 2017.

On what inspired him to take up cooking:
“To be honest, I kind of accidently fell into cooking as part of a youth training scheme when I left school in Germany. I soon discovered I enjoyed the thrill and buzz of the kitchen, so when my family moved back to London after one year I started as an apprentice with Forte Hotels. My family was very supportive and happy to see me developing my skills. Family dinners became more indulgent but my mother wasn’t happy with all the dirty dishes.”

A lesson in cooking that stands out for you even today:
“I would have to break this down into a number of different sections of my career. The first job to have the biggest impact on my career was at the famous Dorchester Hotel in London’s Park Lane. I was really cooking at the highest level for the most exclusive events and superstar clients. This experience taught me not only how to cook but how to be disciplined and organised in a brigade of 105 chefs.
“In my own time, I also worked stages with a number of London’s best chefs; these include Gordon Ramsey, Marco Pierre White, Pierre Koffmann, Philip Howard, and Richard Neat.
“After 19 years of cooking modern European cuisine, I took a change in direction and started to focus on South East Asian flavours. As Executive Chef of Spice Market by three Michelin Star Chef Jean Georges Vongerichten, his cuisine really taught me how to transform the simple cuisine of South East Asian Street Food into a luxury dining experience. The valuable lesson I learnt from this is that you are never too old to keep learning.
“Besides developing a passion for cooking and eating food, I really enjoy being in the spotlight of the occasion. As chefs, we have the responsibility to make other people’s special moments memorable. Whether it is a dinner date, a birthday party, a wedding or a business meeting, the food we cook can be the difference between a great memory and a poor one. I love that responsibility and seeing the joy on guests’ faces after a great meal.”

Why some people consider cooking to be an un-manly profession:
“Well, I think in today’s world that is a very shortsighted opinion of the industry. Becoming a chef gives you the opportunity to learn a skill that will not only always be needed in the world but a skill that gives you a platform to build your own business, travel the world, meet amazing people and discover different cultures. “I have seen young men from poor backgrounds start cooking in a food stall to then become entrepreneurs with a number of successful restaurants. Some of the biggest names in the industry started from very humble beginnings and have become worldwide celebrities, household names and earn fortunes.[email protected]