Caterer Middle East

Gloria Fernandez, head chef at Zoco Dubai

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How did you get into the industry?

I have been cooking for as long as I can remember. It was only a matter of time before it turned into a career. After graduating from culinary school, I was ready to travel the world and do what I love.

How have your previous roles helped get you where you are today?

I always wanted to be a chef with great knowledge in as many as possible ingredient­s and techniques, so I experiment­ed with many cuisines. It means I am able to combine techniques and ingredient­s to create unique dishes.

Have there been any mentors in your career so far?

Every chef and culinary professor I have met in the past has played the role of a mentor. I have learned and been inspired by people throughout my entire career. I strongly believe every person you meet teaches you something, good or bad.

What about role models outside of the F&B industry?

Marathon runners. Their training, effort and success symbolise real life. The fact they are getting in shape to challenge themselves to win a race, having sacri ced so much is very inspiring.

What’s the most exciting thing about your new role?

That I will be able to bring my own recipes and avours. That makes me feel honoured and, of course, very happy.

What challenges lie ahead?

The only challenge I see is wanting to bring the most authentic Mexican and Latin American avours and tastes in perfect harmony with Dubai nightlife. I need to pay attention to detail and choose each ingredient carefully. I believe the challenge can become the strongest point.

Tell us how a normal day will go for you?

I wake up and have a quick yoga session to start my day. Once I reach the restaurant, I inspect the products delivered to ensure they are fresh and of supreme quality. I then have a training session with my team and get ready for a busy service. I go out of the kitchen a lot to meet our guests and receive their feedback. After a busy day, I go home and relax with a great book to read.

Any advice for anyone just starting out?

My only advice is to cook with love and passion and respect the ingredient­s.

What are your career goals?

To publish a series of cooking books. I would love to put together all the recipes I learned or created during my career. It would be a goal always in progress as I am moving forward. I’d also like to open my own restaurant one day.

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