Meet Ronald Pietruszka
Trained in Chicago, passionate about French and Belgian cuisine, American Chef Ronald Pietruszka displayed his talents in Los Angeles, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Japan before relocating to the United Arab Emirates. His broad experience has resulted in an approach clearly based on fusion cuisine.
- What is your background?
- My background is fairly atypical. I began working in a restaurant while studying medicine and psychology. A few months before being awarded my Master’s I was in a car accident, which completely changed my outlook on life. I decided to stop my studies and take cookery lessons. In 1985, I had the opportunity to do a one-month internship at The Ritz-Carlton in Chicago. As I was eager to discover as much as I could I did double shifts! On my last day, the Executive Chef offered me a job. I stayed there for 5 years before joining a French restaurant in Houston as a Chef, then the Hotel Nikko in Beverly Hills.
In 1992, I won the American edition of the Bocuse d’Or World Cooking Contest and was able to represent the USA at the Sirha 1993 in Lyon. Two people have particularly inspired me: Susan Weaver (who represented the USA in 1987) and Jeff Jackson, who was my mentor in Los Angeles and who also represented the USA in Lyon, in 1989. Taking part in such a prestigious competition and meeting Paul Bocuse was an unforgettable experience and a great shot of adrenaline for a young chef.
After the great earthquake of 1994, I bought a return ticket and set off for Singapore to join two former colleagues. I never used the return part of the ticket. I began at the Regent Hotel Singapore as Executive Sous-Chef. I discovered the wealth of Indian, Malaysian and Chinese gastronomy and was able to work with Chefs from varied backgrounds. I was then offered a job as Executive Chef at the Regent Chiang Mai Resort & Spa. I became passionate about Thai cuisine. I then joined the Kuala Lumpur Regent, in Malaysia. Throughout my career I have alternated between resorts and towns. I then took over management of The Ritz-Carlton Bali Resort and Spa. Here we had a visit from Chef Anthony Bourdain who was travelling the world with his “No Reservations” programme. I then accepted a position in Osaka, Japan. That was another extraordinary experience! I joined The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai International Financial Centre, in September 2010.
- Why did you want to become a chef?
- I fell in love with cooking. What started off as a way to pay for my studies became my passion. The internship was the trigger. I loved the atmosphere in the kitchens at the Carlton in Chicago, the high standards, the technical equipment, the diversity of people who made up the team…
- What does your work as Executive Chef involve on a daily basis?
- My day is shared between training the teams and meeting suppliers or designers who are working on our new projects. I also love meeting new customers. As Executive Chef I supervise the different restaurants and The Lobby Lounge in the hotel. Café Belge showcases Belgian gastronomy and its famous moules-frites in a 1920s setting. It also serves delicious seafood platters and has an impressive selection of beers. Center Cut is a steak house serving prime cuts: Wagyu beef, Aberdeen Angus, etc.
And lastly, those with a sweet tooth can succumb to temptation in the hotel’s patisserie and cafe: Cake. There are 53 different nationalities working in our kitchens. This melting pot is typical of Dubai: we always have to think about the differences in cultures and generations, it’s a daily challenge! We also have to push ourselves to do better every day. In our business there is competition everywhere, but it is even more intense in Dubai. Finding the best products, innovating to provide our customers with even more exceptional, unforgettable experiences… That is also one of the roles of the Executive Chef.
- What are your influences?
- There are so many. I make regular trips to Europe and other Asian countries to remember flavours and rediscover tastes and fragrances. Arabic sushi, a maki with local flavours, is the perfect incarnation!
- Do you have favourite ingredients in your recipes? Which ones?
- I love cooking seafood, sole and lamb. I only work with ultra-fresh, high-quality ingredients. It’s essential if you want to preserve the flavours and fragrances of the food.
- What’s your signature dish?
- I’ve had a signature dish in each hotel in which I’ve worked. Here it’s the Whole Roasted Dover Sole at Café Belge. But I’ve got a dessert which has followed me everywhere: a chocolate mousse with candied orange peel, served with crème anglaise. It’s been a success because everyone loves chocolate worldwide!
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