About Mickaël Farina
Interview done by Lena Kislaya
Do you remember your first job? How you entered the kitchen?
The first time I had the chance to wear the chef jacket I was 14 years old, it was orientation day organize by my school, I felt in my element right away.
My first real job has a chef was over sea, in Ireland, my English was average and I was only 17, so I tried to keep low profile and make sure I get things done without attracting to much attention.
It was a wonderful summer season, that good that I went back to school quite and went back to Ireland for 2 years.
Mickaёl, we all know that French cuisine - the base, the classic and the foundation of cooking. All the dishes that are currently cooked in the world came from French school. However, instead of France you choose Maldives. Why Maldives?
While I was working in New Zealand, one of my previous head chef contacted me. He asked me to be a sous chef for him at a world-famous five-star hotel brand in the Maldives, assisting with managing over 30 kitchen staff, he explained me that working in 5 stars resort in Asia is more promising the a city restaurant, I while get better support, bigger team and larger budget, which is absolutely true, with my age and experience I would hardly access such a position back in France.
When I moved to Maldives, I was still only 23 years old and was used to living an active social life before I found myself in the middle of the Indian Ocean. This was to be the biggest challenge to my lifestyle since I left home.
With a large close-knit family, including my French-born Spanish mother; as well as French, Italian, Vietnamese and Algerian ‘Pied-Noir’ great-grandparents, I’ve always had a lot of multicultural influences around me. This means I’ve always embraced other cultures and never particularly identified with one country in particular, even though I am French-born.
I decided to be a chef to travel the world with my profession, not to just stay in France.
How you can describe island life? What do you like most of it and if there is something which you don’t like?
I'm fine with island life, I put myself in this situation, I’m the type of person to highlight negative side, working six days a week. Once every three or four weeks I would leave my island to go to the capital city, and every three or four months I'm going on holiday. I'm quiet happy to be disconnected from the ‘real world’; no news, no shoes, no car, no politics, no bills for food or rent. It allowed me to save money for traveling, but the isolation and high responsibility also meant that I could put all of my focus into cooking.
The only real negative side for me would be the social life, it can be a bit limited sometime but luckily, I’m surrounded by awesome guest and staff.
Well, moving forward to chef’s life. What qualities, in your opinion, person should have to become a cook?
Working in Hospitality is a very special life style, you working when most people are off duty, no weekends, public holiday, festive… You have to be fine with this idea other way you’ll face difficulty.
To become a chef you pretty much only need one thing, passion for food, obviously, when you do something with passion it helps feeling like you not working, this is a carrier, which is going to involve long hours.
I usually ask any new staff 2 things, to care, care about everything you put up, if there is something wrong with it and you know it don’t sent it, and also to be fair, to be fair to our guest which pay a certain price for a certain service, so please, deliver and of course to be fair to your coworkers, don’t do something to someone you wouldn’t want anyone to do you.
There is also natural skills which you cannot teach such has leadership, creativity. If you naturally have it make sure to use it.
If you begging a career in the kitchen and feel like you wish you wouldn’t have to go to work few time in a week, I’m sorry but you should probably swap career right away because it usually doesn’t get better with time, this actually apply for any career.
You had these qualities before or u was learning how to get it?
Yes I believe I had and still do, the thing is to maintain it, chef carrier can be tiring, some chef wake up one day and simply feel like their done, that’s one of the reason why I always want to do more to do something new, to keep things exiting and going, there is a unlimited amount of option available with food, I doubt I’ll ever get bored of it.
What do you think, every chef is dreaming to be Executive Chef?
I thought that way at first, then I realize that not everyone wants to be a leader and have responsibility.
I try to sit down in my office with each of my staff to discuss future every year, I quiet like when some of them tell me they would like to sit in my chair one day, let’s be honest ¾ of the chefs wants to become a head chef or run their own business one day, that’s what keeps us going.
You are executive chef in one of the best resorts in Maldives – Kandolhu Maldives. How you feel yourself in this role?
I’m very proud to be here, to what we achieved and to what’s coming, I value the relationship I have with my boss and staff, with my experience I know how rare it is to fine a place with the right balance.
I’m very happy right now and I look forward to what 2018 will bring on.
Mickaёl, I also know that besides working and enjoying life in paradise, you are traveling a lot. So you are looking for ideas of new dishes?
That’s one of the best side about working in Maldives, every staff gets 42 days paid annual leave a year, plus with my position I will have one oversea business trip a year.
I like to take short vacation break, I will normally travel oversea around 5/6 time a year, and yes recently most of my trip are related to food, my boss sent me for a quick internship in a Michelin star restaurant in Brazil this year, at the same time I went on short cultural and culinary tour in Latin America, really inspirational.
I don’t necessary look for new dish, I more prefer to check what food from what country should taste like, for example in a month or so we opening a fifth outlet on the island, based on Latin America cuisine, tacos and ceviche, I was really surprise to eat real authentic ceviche in Peru, the one I had from over sea before that were far from what they serve over there.
I like our guest to feel like they really traveling when they eat are food, if you order our tikka makhani I believe it will taste like it would back in India, so yes I’m more and more into educating myself culinary speaking worldwide with most of my holiday break.
I also quiet enjoy going out to what we call best bar or best restaurant, just to check what the fuzz is all about.
I might find inspiration for new food anywhere, from a Michelin star restaurant to street food to a meal cooked by a friend.
Recently Kandolhu Maldives has launched the resorts very first Cookbook “HIHsaaKURUN”. This book was captured and created by you. What encourage you to make a book?
Originally it was an initiated around a drink with our owner, he mentioned that he always dreamed one of is chef would make a cookbook for his resort.
I told him I can do it, almost a year and a half after the book was completed, it was pretty challenging, but I’m glad we did it.
I believe we are one of the only private resort with their own cook book, this is a great feature to have especially for a guest, a small piece of us to take home with them.
What is your plans for future?
On a short term I do not know yet, I will be with Kandolhu for a other year, I still have hope some opportunity will come up with my current employer, I don’t want to sacrifice what we build up that easily so I’m not in a rush.
On a longer term, I would like to find an investor and open my own restaurant bar somewhere, most probably in one Asian big city, a place where I could share all the knowledge I accumulated and express myself fully on a smaller scale, fine dining avant garde, the bar side would also be very important, this more of a dream for now, but slowly slowly I start to have a clearer image of what this dream could be.
Kandolhu Maldives has launched its very first cookbook, HIHsaaKURUN by Executive Chef Mickaël Farina.
Kandolhu, a small island resort of only 30 villas, is cleverly arranged to offer maximum privacy yet all within the space of only 200 square meters. It is also home to four gourmet restaurants, boasting the highest restaurant-to-room ratio in the Maldives.
Presenting four unique dining experiences available to all Kandolhu guests, the ambience and menu of each restaurant varies greatly: be entertained with a live show in Banzai, the Japanese teppanyaki, delight in an array of fresh seafood on offer in Sea Grill, sit back and gaze at the sparkling Indian Ocean from the Market or enjoy a romantic candlelit dinner in Olive with modern Mediterranean dishes on the card.
The hardest decision to make is which to try first!
With so many delicious dishes on offer and frequent guest requests for favourite recipes, the creation of the resort’s very first cookbook evolved naturally. For some time, Executive Chef Mickaël had long dreamt of offering guests the opportunity to take a little slice of paradise back home with them, and so his very first cookbook, HIHsaaKURUN was born.
As a photography enthusiast, this vividly imaged book was captured and created mostly by Mickaël himself, so that guests will not only be able to re-live their holiday memories, but also can recreate some of the flavours of Kandolhu at home. The high res photographs of the resort and local surroundings capture the spirit of Kandolhu and the Maldives, and are the perfect complement to the selection of some of the most popular dishes served up at this exclusive resort.
The sights, tastes and aromas of Kandolhu come alive with each of the its 200 pages you turn.
Kandolhu Island has announced the appointment of Mickaël Farina as the new executive chef. Mickaël Farina is a French national with experience in some of the world’s top restaurants and resorts. Having previously worked in Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, as well as his home country of France, Farina has been based in the Maldives for the past two years.
“My first roles in the Maldives were challenging and rewarding, having worked in Cocoa Island by Como, and Jumeirah Vittaveli, both in senior chef roles, and as you can imagine, in very small environments,” explains Chef Mickaël of his experience in the Maldives. “I needed time to adapt and to learn how to live on an island. After two years I can now say that I’m in love with the Maldives and the ‘island life’. Kandolhu suits this perfectly, with the small island experience and the possibility of eating at four distinct outlets.”
In his new role, Chef Mickaël will be overseeing the resort’s four restaurants: all-day dining à la carte restaurant The Market, Italian and Mediterranean outlet Olive, beachside restaurant Sea Grill, and Japanese restaurant Banzai. The resort also offers Villa Dining, as well as a number of private dining possibilities.
Chef Mickaël is looking forward to welcoming guests to Kandolhu, saying: “I am very attentive to guest feedback and aim to make personalised requests happen. Come to our island and we will make sure you fall in love with its beauty and charm, while delighting you with the many options and quality of our food.”
Kandolhu Island is a 30-villa resort located in North Ari Atoll, a 25-minute seaplane ride from Ibrahim Nasir International Airport.
Mickael Farina is currently the Executive Chef at Universal Resort's Kandolhu Island in the beautiful Republic of Maldives. Kandolhu Island is home to 30 villas, 130 staff, 4 restaurants and 1 bar. The Market ( International) Olive (Mediterranean fine dining) Sea Grill (Open grill kitchen) Banzai (Japanese, sushi & Teppanyaki) & Vilu bar (finger food).
J’ai choisi d’être cuisinier à l’âge de 11 ans lors d’un rendez-vous avec un conseiller d’orientation au collège, j’avais 3 critères :
De courtes études, la possibilite de pouvoir travailler partout dansle monde et un metier artisitique. j'ai donc decider de jouer la carte de ce que je pouvais representer de mieux en temps que Francais : « La Cuisine ».
J’ai enfilé l'uniforme de cuisinier pour la première fois à 14 ans, le jour meme il n'y avait plus de doute, c'é tait belle et bien ce que je voulais faire de ma vie. A 15 ans entrée en école hôtelière à Montlucon au lycee Saint vincent pendant 3 ans.
Départ pour l’Ireland à 18ans pour aller travailler dans un bistro français « la marine » au Kellys resort hôtel à Rosslare (récompense du meilleur hôtel d’Irlande en 2010).
Puis à 20 ans, départ pour l’Australie, un an à Sydney dans un restaurant moderne Australien. Je commence en temps que chef de partie puis 2 mois plus tard on m’offre le poste de sous chef de cuisine.
Après cette expérience, je m’envole pour Perth pour une durée d’un an en tant que chef de partie dans un restaurant gastronomique avec chef de cuisine Français, une équipe de 18 cuisiniers.
Un parcours similaire à celui de Sydney puisque je deviens sous chef au bout de quelques mois. Après ça je décide de partir un an pour la Nouvelle Zélande. Employé dans un restaurant gastronomique en temps que sous chef, puis en tant que chef de cuisine.
2014, un ancien chef me propose de devenir sons sous chef aux Maldives, Cocoa Hotel.
Après une belle année a Cocoa island je change d'adresse, toujours au Maldives. Kandolhu Island, 30 villa, 130 employer (Trip advisor Maldives top 7), je suis maintenant a la tete d'une equipe de 35 employee, 4 restaurant, 1 bar et staff cafeteria, The Market ( International) Olive (Mediterranean fine dinning) Sea Grill (Open grill kitchen) Banzai (Japanesse, sushi & teppanyaky).
Pour moi la cuisine est un Art, une manière de m’exprimer.
Il ne suffit pas d’appliquer des règles mais plutôt de ressentir les choses et de faire marcher sa créativité.
La cuisine me donne l’opportunité d’en apprendre tous les jours.
Head-chef to Executive chef at Kandolhu Isalnd. (The Republic of Maldives)
Chef de Cuisine at Jumeirah Vitavelli. (The Republic of Maldives)
Resort Sous-Chef at Cocoa Island by COMO. (The Republic of Maldives)
Sous-chef to Head-chef at the Landing Restaurant Fine Dining, Wanaka. (New Zealand)
CDP to Sous-Chef at the Boatshed in South-Perth. (Australia)
CDP to Sous-Chef at the Bay88 in Sydney. (Australia)
Commis to Demi-Chef de Partie at the French Bistro la Marine, Kelly's Resort in Rosslare. (Ireland)
Hospitality school at Lycée Saint-Vincent at Montlucon. (France)