Meet Geoffrey Duron

In 2006, executive sous-chef within the Leylaty group, chef Geoffrey Duron settled in Saudi Arabia. On top of supervising several establishments, he is responsible for the launch of the latest addition Rico, jointly with chef Darius Belves. The restaurant offers contemporary cuisine with a spanish twist, and opened in February 2016. Meeting.
What made you become a chef? What has been your career thus far?
I come from a family of cooks: my grandfather was a baker and pastry Chef, my mother ran a small restaurant... As a result, I became familiar with this universe very early on. I earned my cooking degree
(French CAP) at the Lycée Hôtelier de Soissons and immediately sought work. I started by practicing in small establishments, but I quickly realised I wanted to live the excitement of a larger setting. I applied
to Disneyland in March 2002. I got my first Executive Sous-Chef position in 2004 within the Intercontinental Group. This was all new to me: cost management, recruitment, menu development. I began to stand alongside many expatriates, which sparked my desire to move abroad, open myself up to new cultures and share my know-how. With a mix of dread and excitement, I moved to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia to be part of the Leylaty Group. Founded in 1948, the group is one of the kingdom’s leaders when it comes to banqueting and catering. It has six restaurants (a seventh will open its doors some time in 2016).
What inspires you?
World cuisines are an endless source of inspiration! Going to live abroad brought me a new perspective on the world: I discovered dozens of products and met people from all walks of life… Among the Chefs I particularly admire, I would point out Jean-François Piège who allies innovation and great respect for the product; along with, of course, Darius Belves, with whom I had the great opportunity to work for the past ten years.
What are the ingredients you enjoy working with the most? What is your signature dish?
I love working with vegetables in general and more specifically celeriac which in my opinion perfectly embodies soil. It is a vegetable that can be cooked in many ways and offers numerous textures. Among our signature dishes, I would cite the Langoustine and kadaïf asparagus with a butter beaten with the Thai method, or the Scallops in the style of Fernand Point, which is one of the favourite dish of the French ambassador in Saudi Arabia.
What are the specificities of local gastronomy?
The most symbolic dish in local gastronomy is a whole lamb braised for six hours with a mix of spices and served with various types of rice. For a cook who perfected his skills in France, cooking without alcohol nor pork can be disconcerting at first. There is also a need to account for local taste of course: for instance, garlic is not at all liked here, nor is octopus. Some time is needed to get used to tastes, review the culinary basics, understand how to re-adapt the products to the local market. Besides that, there are no specific constraints, contrary to what stereotypes might imply. We are lucky to work with Mr Hani Hussein Al Attas, an employer who lets us create our recipes freely. He is a true lover of French cuisine! Our clientele also comprises internationals who travel a lot through Europe and Asia. This allows us to feature a fusion between Europe and Asia, and Europe and the Middle East.
What is your daily routine as an executive chef?
Not to do worse than last night! I do question myself a lot, in order to always do better. Each restaurant has its own Chef, but with Darius Belves we have a coordinating role. The day starts with merchandise delivery. We organise the team’s schedule: here, days are very long, working until 3 a.m. is frequent. Therefore, days have to be planned with large time frames. Team management is obviously decisive. In addition, an important part of the day is dedicated to the creation of the menu. We change daily and are perpetually looking for new
products to work with, original flavours to match… Saudis are fond of innovation, which is very rewarding for a Chef!
What are your vital products from Elle & Vire Professionnel?
The Excellence Whipping Cream 35,1% fat is in my opinion absolutely vital. I particularly love how unctuous and reliable it is all throughout the year. I also love the unsalted Gourmet Butter Unsalted 82%, which truly tastes like butter. We use it for salty and savoury dishes alike.

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