How did you start your culinary career with Kempinski?
My culinary journey started when I was ten years old. I grew up in a small town in North Romania. Every day after school, I would help my mum with the grocery shopping and then help her cook. She would always tell me stories of her childhood and how her mum used to make traditional Romanian dishes. She would show me how to make them, and I was fascinated by the mix of flavours and textures. I started to experiment with the recipes, adding a little bit of this and that and creating my own versions of the dishes. I learned how to make my mum’s famous dishes, like sarmale (stuffed cabbage rolls), tochitura (a sort of stew with pork, potatoes and vegetables) and clatite (crepes).
When I was 16 years old, we moved to Spain. I joined a local culinary institute (I.E.S. Hostelera San Roque), and I learned the basics of cooking, from knife skills to food safety. I was so excited to learn more and expand my knowledge. The classes were the perfect way for me to learn more about cooking and find out about new ingredients and recipes. This inspired me to get creative in the kitchen, using different ingredients to make new dishes I was also interested in.
In 2009, after graduating from culinary school, I got the opportunity to start my internship at Kempinski Hotel Bahía Estepona. Little did I know that this internship was the start of an exciting career. I was proud of and grateful for the opportunity to be a part of something as remarkable as the Kempinski family, and I looked forward to continuing to grow my career with this amazing company.
What other roles did you take on your career path?
During this internship, I learned a lot about the culinary industry, the importance of good food and the importance of customer service. I was fortunate to meet people that have supported my growth and development since I joined the company. From day one, my colleagues and supervisors patiently guided and trained me to unleash my full potential and give my best performance daily. Their extensive knowledge and passion for hospitality fuelled my own enthusiasm. At the end of my internship, I was offered a position as a chef at the hotel. I was thrilled to get the chance to continue developing my culinary skills.
This led me to explore the opportunity of joining their sister property – Kempinski Hotel Grand Arena Bansko. With the guidance of the Human Resources Department, I accepted the position and worked there for the winter season. I was humbled by the chance to work with and learn from such an amazing team. This experience opened my eyes to the possibility of travelling to different locations within the Kempinski family.
Since my contract in Bulgaria was temporary, my journey continued at Kempinski Mont Pelerin in Switzerland, where I had the pleasure of working in a Michelin-starred restaurant. The team was composed of the most distinguished individuals in the field. Through their guidance and support, I came to understand the value of respecting food, resources and local products.
When new opportunities came up, I didn’t hesitate to seize them, and headed to Malta, the “Little Gem of the Mediterranean”. Kempinski Hotel San Lawrenz Gozo became my “home” for the next six years. This amazing property gave me the opportunity to develop my skills, progress and eventually become the executive chef. After enjoying six wonderful years in Malta, I was yearning for new experiences and learning opportunities.
The Human Resources director’s support and belief in my abilities gave me the chance to head up the kitchens at the incredible and prestigious Emerald Palace Kempinski Dubai. I was fortunate to have a highly skilled and professional team to work with, making it a great career experience outside Europe. It was exactly the opportunity I was looking for as it strengthened my enthusiasm for luxury cuisines and inspired me to delve into a variety of cuisines, ingredients and combinations.
During the uncertain times of Covid-19 I returned to Europe. It was a difficult time for the hospitality industry, but I was lucky to have the opportunity to be part of the task force at Kempinski Hotel Das Tirol.
After the task force, I had the pleasure of rejoining the Kempinski Bahía Estepona team. One of my main tasks was to restore the kitchen’s morale and help the team to get through the summer season. Thanks to the collective diligent effort, and hard work of the team, we managed to finish the season with success.
I am grateful for the mentor, Director of Human Resources, who supported and guided my career path. Through his guidance, I was able to gain the skills and knowledge I needed to reach my goal of becoming Executive Chef of Kempinski Hotel Bahía Estepona. In this role, I am able to fulfil my dream of leading the kitchens and people that make this property so incredible.
What has the Kempinski Experience been like?
This experience has taught me the importance of hard work and dedication. I am thankful for the exposure that I got in working with different departments, functions and cultures in different countries, which gave me a chance to understand challenges in different markets and develop my skills. The experience of being a part of such a large family of colleagues, working together to create unforgettable experiences for our guests, is something that I am truly grateful for. Kempinski has been a great platform for me to grow and develop professionally, and I am proud of the opportunity to be a part of this family.