Amilla Maldives Resort & Residences has welcomed back to the Maldives Executive Chef Mickaël Farina; one of the most talented and energetic young chefs in the region.
Since the age of 11, Mickaël, (who hails from Provence, France), knew he was going to become a chef – and even which culinary school he wanted to go to. Following training at the Relais & Châteaux Michelin-starred restaurant in Montargis, France, he felt the call of international adventures. Mickaël become one of the youngest Sous Chef in Sydney at just 20, worked under two Michelin-star French chefs in Perth and became Head Chef by 23 at The Landing restaurant in Wanaka, New Zealand.
Relishing an even bigger challenge, Mickaël then departed for first time to the Maldives to become resort Sous Chef at COMO Cocoa Island Maldives (where he helped the resort achieve a rating as 6th best hotel in the world on TripAdvisor).
At 25, he transferred to Kandolhu Maldives to become Executive Chef, where he led a kitchen team of over 40 and created his first Maldives-inspired cookbook/photography book, HIHsaaKURUN.
Mickaël, who describes himself as “born curious”, has visited over 25 resorts in the Maldives and more than 50 countries; dining at over 100 Michelin-starred restaurants as part of his international culinary explorations and taking an apprenticeship at a Michelin-starred restaurant in Brazil.
In 2018, Mickaël reached the regional final of the San Pellegrino Young Chef contest in Singapore, and has recently cooked for a UNESCO gastronomy charity in Japan and worked on multiple ‘four hands dinners’ at some of the top restaurants in Paris, New Delhi and Colombo.
Mickaël, soon to be 30, says: “I started working on a restaurant project back in my home country last year but quickly realised that I belong at a five-star hotel. So after a few months, I started to look for my next challenge.”
Coming from a multi-cultural family, he always felt at home overseas — Michaël’s father is Sardinian, his grandmother grew up in Catalan, his great-grandfather was Vietnamese and great-grandmother was a French colonial living in Algeria.
“After various interviews in Turkey, Morocco, Bali, Thailand and the Seychelles — as well as some trials at a Mauritius Sofitel and even for Google in Paris (amongst other countries), I realised that nothing beats the standards of the hotels in the Maldives, their budgets, team, clientele and top-level set-ups,” Mickaël says.
The Maldives was clearly calling Mickaël back.
Amilla’s General Manager, Jason Kruse, and wife Victoria (the resort’s Sustainability Manger), had heard of Mickaël while they were all working in previous roles for the same hotel group — Universal Resorts Maldives — a few years ago. Jason, who joined Amilla last year, was the Maldives’ longest-serving General Manager at Universal’s Kurumba resort whilst Mickaël was leading the kitchen at Kandolhu in the adjacent atoll at the same time.
“The day I was informed about the opening for an Executive Chef at Amilla Maldives, my heart skipped a beat. I knew it was the job I wanted, and I’m thrilled that I got it. I guess I wasn’t done with the Maldives,” says Mickaël.
“Amilla is definitely the next big career step I was looking for. Amilla has an amazing set-up and team. It’s a real pleasure to join Jason and Victoria Kruse here. I’m excited to be at Amilla for the long-term; building upon my culinary reputation and elevating the kitchen to even higher levels, step by step. It is going to take time to fulfil all my goals, I now have enough Maldives experience to know this, but it’s an extremely exciting prospect. We are building upon some already-proven concepts such as sushi and teppanyaki but we’re also planning on introducing some new concepts to the Maldives as well.”
Some of the cornerstones of Amilla’s new culinary overhaul are the pioneering Wellness Your Way, Homegrown@Amilla and Homemade@Amilla concepts.
“We have big plans for producing products in-house (both homemade and from our garden) and also for our new Wellness Your Way program we’re developing a lot of plant-based recipes and dishes catering to ‘eating lifestyles’ in our regular menus; for guests with dietary preferences such as keto, low-lectin and paleo,” explains Mickaël.
Mickaël also has ambitions for ‘Feeling Koi’, Amilla’s award-winning signature restaurant.
“We’re unveiling ‘Izakaya’, which is mixed type of cuisine that’s usually served in bars accompanied by drinks, rather like Spanish tapas. I’d like ‘Feeling Koi’ to become known as an ‘Island Isakaya’,” says Mickaël.
“With our new menu, the idea is to pay tribute to Japanese cuisine, but also use local products to create some inspirational new flavours. You’ll be able to recognise small influences from other countries, such as the Maldives and France”.
The Island Izakaya menu will be separated into different categories — sakana, sashimi, kushikatsu, konro, yakitori and desserts — and there will be drinks pairings available for each dish.
“We’ll encourage guests to share dishes, in order to respect the essence of Izakaya” explains Mickaël.
It looks like Mickaël and Amilla’s new executive team is injecting all kinds of thrilling new concepts and ideas into the avant-garde resort. Expect a host of innovations and world-class concepts to follow over the coming months.
“I’m back in action and embracing my biggest challenge yet. My batteries are fully recharged, and I’m looking forward to welcoming back all our repeat guests as well as new guests to share all the new goodies the culinary team and myself are developing,” says Mickaël.
Located just 30 minutes by seaplane from Velana International Airport, Amilla Fushi offers a choice of 59 Houses that sit gracefully over crystal clear waters, nestle among lush tree tops or hug the shores of pristine white sand; plus eight spectacular four- to eight-bedroom Beach Residences ideally suited to large families, groups of friends and VVIPs seeking the ultimate in space and privacy.
Amilla’s innovative restaurants range from the diverse, informal foodie hub Baazaar to the relaxed yet sophisticated overwater dining at the signature Feeling Koi. Guests can even drop in to gourmet café and deli The Emperor General Store or The Wine Shop & Cellar Door to treat themselves to lighter snacks, a favourite bottle or a gourmet selection of artisanal cheeses.
With an unrivalled range of purpose-designed multi-bedroom accommodation options, and an exciting, inspiring and active Kids’ Club The Sultan’s Village, Amilla Fushi is putting the Maldives on the map as a destination not just for couples, but for families and friends.
Joy Island hosts first Gourmet Week with Chef Roberto Valbuzzi
Joy Island has successfully hosted its first Gourmet Week appointment with the young and talented Chef Roberto Valbuzzi from 30 September to 9 October 2023.
The well-known Italian television personality Chef Valbuzzi strives to combine contemporary cooking techniques with family-passed culinary traditions to produce culinary masterpieces in the Lake Maggiore region. As a result, he was given the title of Territory Ambassador on the Gambero Rosso 2023/2024 Lombardy guide.
Arrival of Chef Valbuzzi has delighted the guests of Joy Island with a culinary experience that was inspired by Crotto Valtellina, creating menu items that resonates with his artistic persona. Ranging from typical Italian “Sciatt” to dishes that mix tradition and innovation, the aim is above all to enhance Italian food and wine heritage, well represented in Joy Island which even boasts a dairy in the resort.
The Cocoon Collection gastronomic weeks events always pledge an unforgettable culinary experience, loyal to Italian tradition and philosophy but full of creative ideas.
Kandolhu Maldives announces extraordinary collaboration with renowned Chef Yoni Saada
Celebrated for his expertise in Contemporary Mediterranean cuisine, Chef Yoni Saada will be gracing the island from 13th -18th November 2023. During his stay, he will be showcasing a series of exclusive culinary events at Olive, one the five enticing restaurants on offer on the island, for our guests on the island.
Yoni Saada, the son, and grandson of esteemed Marais butchers, ventured into the culinary world early on at 19, he started by pursuing studies of cuisine and bakery at Ferrandi in Paris. In 2006, at 25, he opened his very first restaurant “Osmose”, and became renowned after participating in the TV show Top Chef show in 2013. The same year, he opened “Miniatures”, a semi-gourmet restaurant of French tapas. In 2014, his new project “Bagnard” was selected Project of the Year by the Gault & Millau guide. Yoni Saada also received the 2014 Young Talent prize.
This extraordinary collaboration with Chef Yoni Saada continues with the resort’s dedication to creating unforgettable moments for our guests, assuring a culinary experience that stands unparalelled. Moreover, a handpicked array of Chef Yoni Saada’s exceptional creations will become a beloved addition to the Olive menu, extending the opportunity for future guests to relish and savour his culinary mastery long after the exclusive event has concluded.
Hurawalhi Maldives announces exclusive collaborations with Michelin-star Chef Dominik Kappeler
Hurawalhi Maldives, the adults-only paradise located in the Lhaviyani Atoll, is set to welcome Michelin-star Chef Dominik Kappeler to collaborate with Hurawalhi’s very own Executive Chef Harshal Antil to create culinary masterpieces at Hurawalhi’s world famous 5.8 Undersea restaurant.
Chef Dominik Kappeler, chef and owner of Munich’s celebrated dining destination Showroom, was born to a restaurant-owning family and in the culinary world his name is synonymous with excellence and innovation. The bespoke menus will incorporate local ingredients picked from Hurawalhi’s organic gardens and will emphasise Kappeler’s playful style with an elevated twist to inspire discerning palates.
“I am honoured to be the guest chef at Hurawalhi Maldives. The beauty of this tropical paradise is a perfect canvas for our culinary creations,” says Chef Dominik Kappeler, “Collaborating with the talented Chef Harshal Antil and the remarkable team at Hurawalhi promises to be an unforgettable experience, and I am eager to bring a taste of Showroom to the resort.”
Apart from this exciting culinary partnership, Hurawalhi Maldives will host Sommelier Christophe Pelaud showcasing a palette of Moët Hennessy exquisite selection and Sommeliere Dora Dzurjak. Together with Hurawalhi’s resident sommelier team, they will curate a delightful selection of champagnes and wines from around the world to impeccably complement Chef Dominik Kappeler’s menus.
Sommelier Christophe Pelaud is originally from France and travelled all over the world gaining over 35 years of experience including training in several three Michelin star restaurants in Paris. Sommeliere Dora Dzurjak started her career in Budapest’s hospitality scene, today she has over 15 years of professional experience.
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