Saturday, July 13, 2024
Home > The Chef > Sustainable Gastronomy: Interview with W Abu Dhabi – Yas Island’s Executive Chef Deivid Paiva

Executive Chef Deivid Paiva brings 17 years of culinary expertise from around the world to his role at W Abu Dhabi – Yas Island, infusing each dish with his dynamic energy and a deep-rooted passion for cooking cultivated during his upbringing in Portugal

Chef Deivid’s culinary journey, spanning from his early days in local eateries to his time at Michelin-starred venues like Chapter One in Ireland, showcases a steadfast commitment to excellence, as he seamlessly merges traditional and contemporary techniques to create acclaimed menus bursting with vibrant flavours and inventive dishes.

Now at W Abu Dhabi – Yas Island, Chef Deivid aims to redefine culinary experiences, infusing each outlet with his unique twist while spearheading initiatives to elevate sustainability practices and create unforgettable dining moments for guests.

Chef Deivid Paiva

What is your culinary philosophy?

Looking back at my culinary journey from Commis to the esteemed role of Executive Chef at W Abu Dhabi- Yas Island, two guiding quotes resonate deeply with me. The first, “When you respect every vegetable and every piece of meat that enters your kitchen, even as underrated as a carrot, only then can you call yourself a true cook,” encapsulates my culinary ethos. In my kitchen, I prioritise ingredient and product-driven cuisine, valuing the quality of every component and maximising its potential in each dish. This reverence extends to the hard work of farmers, fishermen, and livestock growers, whose dedication ensures peak quality with every delivery. As a chef, honouring their efforts by minimising waste is paramount.

The second quote, “You are only as good as the last plate you sent to the dining room,” has been my steadfast mantra throughout my career ascent. From my humble beginnings in renowned establishments to my current leadership role, this ethos of continuous improvement has shaped my approach. I believe it’s not just about achieving perfection but also about striving for it relentlessly. This mindset is pivotal in fostering a culture of excellence within my team, as we navigate the demanding landscape of culinary arts. Every plate leaving our kitchen must embody our commitment to quality and innovation, ensuring a memorable experience for every guest and leaving them always craving for more.

How has your culinary journey across Europe, the Middle East, and Asia influenced your approach to creating unique dining experiences at W Abu Dhabi – Yas Island?

Growing up in Algarve, Portugal, my family’s culinary traditions sparked my passion for cooking, leading me on a 17-year journey across Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. As Executive Chef at W Abu Dhabi – Yas Island, I oversee diverse dining concepts like Angar, Amici, and Garage, drawing from my experiences in luxury hotels to craft unique culinary experiences. From Europe’s classical techniques to the Middle East’s bold spices and Asia’s innovation, each destination has influenced my culinary evolution.

My journey celebrates authenticity and creativity, infusing local flavours into international cuisines at W Abu Dhabi – Yas Island. Whether reinventing tradition with contemporary twists or drawing inspiration from diverse culinary landscapes, my aim is to offer guests a flavorful journey reflecting the richness and diversity of my global explorations. Whether the aim is to bring guests back to the flavours of their hometowns or make them travel around the world, I always try to play with flavours and textures and boldly deliver the unexpected to every guest.

Can you share specific ways in which your strategies to reduce kitchen waste contribute to sustainability efforts and enhance the overall dining experience for guests?

In January 2023, I hosted “Looped In,” featuring a zero-waste six-course menu, aimed at promoting responsible cooking practices and sustainable actions that can close the loop in the kitchen. This innovative culinary event not only showcased regional ingredients but also educated guests on simple eco-friendly tips for their everyday meal preparations, inspiring them to adopt more sustainable habits. Through initiatives like minimising kitchen waste and maximising efficiency, we prioritise sustainability at the core of our culinary philosophy, reflecting the growing emphasis on eco-conscious practices in the journey.

Chef Deivid Paiva

Our commitment to sustainability extends beyond the kitchen, encompassing eco-friendly sourcing, waste reduction, and energy-efficient practices throughout our operations. Notably, projects like crafting sustainable amenities for our 499 rooms from recycled materials, or including zero-waste-themed coffee breaks for our meetings, demonstrate our dedication to responsible resource management. These endeavours not only bolster our environmental efforts but also elevate the overall dining experience for guests who increasingly value environmentally conscious practices, showcasing our commitment to responsible stewardship of resources.

How do you ensure that menu concepts not only align with brand identity but also cater to the varied palates?

W Hotels as a brand is actually going through an evolution, and refreshing their Food and Beverage concepts and philosophies to be more aligned with the current needs of customers around the world. The brand not only understands the importance of sustainability and the role that it plays in the life and choices of today’s guests but also values the importance of authenticity, transparency and innovation in everything that is done in the kitchen. Our Connectors want to be in the know and look for more green and sustainable options, most of all when it comes to Food. This awareness that the brand shows through incredible initiatives and great B&F concepts, is a testament to all the support properties get to experiment with sustainable activations such as Looped in and go beyond the expected, putting the “Food” back into B&F.

To be in line with the brand, and, at the same time cater to a new type of conscious guest and their palate, our culinary team takes at heart implementing always new menu concepts, increasing the vegan and vegetarian options in our outlets, and refreshing menus seasonally. This ensures that our offerings remain dynamic and in tune with the changing seasons, incorporating fresh ingredients and flavours to elevate the dining experience with creativity and vibrancy.

Chef Deivid Paiva

Additionally, we stay attuned to food and beverage trends by researching continuously researching new products and techniques, and staying updated on the latest culinary updates. In every dish we try to always implement one of three thighs: either we bring out the best of one special ingredient in its most simple form, to showcase its quality and natural flavour; or we focus on innovative cooking techniques that are not very common to bring out extraordinary tastes; or we give a twist on traditional dishes to meet the evolving tastes of our guests. This commitment to both seasonal adaptation and culinary innovation underscores the sophisticated and forward-thinking luxury that W Hotels are all about.

By blending seasonal relevance with guest satisfaction and culinary excellence, our approach embodies the essence of W Hotels, offering guests a truly memorable and contemporary dining experience that reflects the brand’s commitment to sophistication and style.

What measures do you take to source high-quality ingredients that elevate the dining experience for diners?

I am deeply committed to sourcing only the finest ingredients to elevate our guests’ dining experiences. Every time I explore new places, I discover unique dishes and products that I’m eager to incorporate into our offerings at W Abu Dhabi – Yas Island. Our philosophy prioritises the sourcing of local produce and vegetables, ensuring unparalleled freshness while also contributing to sustainable practices. Together with our purchasing department, we are always on the lookout for local suppliers and fresh ingredients and are fully committed to keeping their quality intact. And, as I always tell my team, I believe that the mark of a truly exceptional chef lies in their ability to transform these selected products into culinary masterpieces that captivate the palate and leave a lasting impression, leaving nothing to waste.

At the heart of our sourcing practices is a commitment to value. We strive to acquire items that are not only worth the price but also maintain an unwavering focus on quality. This ensures that every dish we present to our guests reflects the perfect balance of excellence and value.

Chef Deivid Paiva

Can you share insights into your creative process?

My creative process revolves around constant research for innovative menu ideas. I’m always on the lookout for new culinary trends, ingredients, and techniques that can inspire fresh and exciting dishes. What really motivates me is encouraging my team to constantly explore fresh opportunities and ideas on a daily basis, because they are the ones that always end up surprising me the most with their creativity and out-of-the-box ideas. We strive to challenge conventional boundaries and aim to create something unique and memorable with each dish we craft. For me, creativity sparks from the occasion, I look at the guests I expect to have, and the event that they have planned, and try to imagine what would make their experience memorable. This is how most of the time I have come up with my best dishes: thinking of the tastemakers first and trying to give them what they didn’t know they needed.

Is there a signature dish or menu concept you’ve developed at W Abu Dhabi – Yas Island that you’re particularly proud of, and why?

I think that one standout is definitely our “B.I.G Brunch In Garage:” testimony of a collaborative effort between my senior chefs and myself. Together, we crafted a dynamic menu that evolves with the seasons, ensuring that guests experience the freshest and most innovative dishes. This brunch experience is not only a celebration of culinary creativity but also testimony to our commitment to elevate the concept of Brunch, and how is seen now in the region, making it a buffet that is five-star luxury hotel worth. B.I.G. has also received multiple awards for being the best brunch in the region, further solidifying its reputation for excellence.

Another highlight is our revamped “Coffee Break” menu, which received a significant overhaul after careful consideration. Not only have we introduced new offerings to cater to the changing tastes and preferences of clients, but also, we have introduced our “Looped In” inspired menu, promoting sustainability through a zero-waste array of delicacies that feature regional ingredients, repurpose food trims into delicious surprises, and leave nothing to waste.

What are your thoughts on the evolving culinary landscape and are there any upcoming trends you find exciting?

Energised by the dynamic shifts in the culinary landscape, I find the evolving trends both inspiring and promising. One particularly exciting trend is the growing emphasis on sustainability and conscious dining practices. As more individuals focus on ethical food choices, there’s a noticeable demand for locally sourced, seasonal ingredients, alongside innovative methods to reduce kitchen waste and minimise our carbon footprint.

Furthermore, the increasing popularity of plant-based and alternative protein options reflects a broader movement towards healthier and more diverse eating habits. Exploring these trends not only allows us to provide inclusive and environmentally friendly dining options but also presents exciting opportunities for culinary innovation and creativity. Additionally, the fusion of global flavours and culinary traditions continues to ignite excitement, providing us with a platform to experiment with bold flavour combinations and unique cooking techniques that celebrate the richness of global cuisine. Overall, embracing these trends enables us to stay ahead of the curve and deliver exceptional dining experiences that delight our guests at W Abu Dhabi.

How do you envision the culinary experience evolving at W Abu Dhabi – Yas Island?

As Executive Chef at W Abu Dhabi – Yas Island, my vision for the culinary experience is to position our hotel as the ultimate luxury destination for a culinary experience that ignites curiosity of our guests and expands their horizons when it comes to food. I aspire for guests to eagerly anticipate dining at W Abu Dhabi, and choosing Garage, Amici and Angar, for the unexpected tastes and bold creations; recognising it as the go-to place for a remarkable culinary journey.

With accolades such as the FACT Dining Awards Abu Dhabi 2022, where Garage was honoured as the Best All Day Dining Restaurant, and the BBC Good Food Middle East Magazine Awards 2022, recognising Garage for the Casual Brunch category, I think we are already on the right track, but there is still so much coming our way, and we are ready to deliver. Moving forward, I am dedicated to further improving the quality of our food offerings, ensuring that every dish exceeds expectations and leaves a lasting impression on our guests. Together with my team, we will continue to push boundaries, set trends, and deliver unparalleled dining experiences that delight our guests and elevate W Abu Dhabi – Yas Island to new heights in the culinary world.

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