Ste­fan Zi­jta

Food & Bev­er­age Di­rec­tor at Alila Seminyak

Exquisite Taste - - Calendar: Bali -

: De­scribe your typ­i­cal day in a sen­tence.

Ste­fan: Hec­tic with jug­gling meet­ings and pa­per­work, new dishes, plan­ning of events, mak­ing time for the team, while stay­ing a bit fit by cy­cling and swim­ming.

: So how did you come to be the F&B di­rec­tor for Alila Seminyak?

S: I had been the ex­ec­u­tive chef for Alila since 2008. After sev­eral open­ings my fo­cus was no longer only on the culi­nary part but also the front of the house. The ti­tle ex­ec­u­tive chef was no longer jus­ti­fied, so we turned it into F&B di­rec­tor.

: What’s the tough­est part of your job?

S: Stay­ing in line with the lat­est de­vel­op­ments. Since social me­dia, trends and gim­micks come and go. To pick up what is to stay and de­velop those into our F&B pro­gram is chal­leng­ing but also very ex­cit­ing.

: And what makes you smile at work?

S: When we are re­ally busy, and we crank out 400 guests for break­fast, all à la carte, and I see ev­ery­one in their place do­ing their job mak­ing it work. See­ing the piles of raw ma­te­ri­als com­ing in ev­ery­day turned into de­li­cious food is very re­ward­ing too.

: What mo­ti­vates you?

S: The op­por­tu­nity to be­come a cor­po­rate chef is highly mo­ti­vat­ing. The chance to have a say in the F&B op­er­a­tions in all the sis­ter ho­tels. The abil­ity to travel the world and ex­pe­ri­ence the world through food is amaz­ing.

: Would things fall apart if you weren’t around? S: Ab­so­lutely not, we have amaz­ing peo­ple in the right place.

: Who, in your team, de­serves more recog­ni­tion and why? S: Ste­ward­ing, they are this quiet lit­tle army that some­how al­ways man­ages to de­liver clean kitchens in the morn­ing for the team to start with. With­out them op­er­a­tions would fall apart. Not many peo­ple re­alise this.

: Why should peo­ple come to Alila Seminyak to dine or stay? S: The undis­rupted 180-de­gree ocean view and of course the food and the drinks. Since we opened Seasalt we have re­ceived many com­pli­ments for our food and in­te­rior design.

: Away from work, what’s your favourite place to eat? S: Too many! And I haven't even tried ev­ery­thing yet!

: How do you un­wind?

S: Tak­ing the kids some­where for the week­end, could be any­where. My favourite place here in Bali is Balian though. Amaz­ing beaches and ex­tremely re­laxed vibe.

: Fi­nally, any ad­vice for those looking to break into the in­dus­try?

S: Don't jump too fast on to the next po­si­tion. Grow steadily, work hard in rep­utable places and build a solid foun­da­tion and deep un­der­stand­ing of your trade.

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