Caterer Middle East
Gloria Fernandez, head chef at Zoco Dubai
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.