Back-of-House: Meet the head chef, Aloft Dubai South
Anish Kottakkal, the head chef at Aloft Dubai South speaks about his role, why he chose a career in this industry, his challenges and more
Describe your job.
As a head chef at Aloft Dubai South, I oversee many diverse aspects of the kitchen and restaurant. I work closely with all team members, creating menus, determining the food inventory levels, monitoring the efficiency of the kitchen and ensuring consistency in food production and quality of food by implementing and maintaining high food safety standards.
How long have you worked in the hospitality industry?
I have been working in the hotel industry for the past 11 years. Following my bachelor of hotel management studies, I completed my trainings in India and then found an opportunity in Dubai. I joined Marriott in 2011.
What were you doing prior to your current position?
I worked as the complex sous chef – Aloft and Element, Me’aisam Dubai, the junior sous chef – Ritz Carlton Jumeirah Beach Hotel Dubai and as the chef de partie – JW Marriott Marquis, Dubai.
Describe your hospitality journey.
I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in hotel management and immediately started my career with the Address Hotel, Dubai Marina as commis chef at the hotel’s French fine dining restaurant. I then worked for Carnival Cruise lines where I spent one year in the main kitchen. On my return to Dubai, I joined Ritz Carlton DIFC as a commis 1 working in the Banquet Kitchen and was promoted to demi chef. I transferred to JW Marriott Marquis in 2013 as chef de partie in the French bistro restaurant La Farine.
In 2014 I moved to Ritz Carlton Jumeirah Beach as a junior sous Chef where I worked in the Beach Restaurant and in the All Day Dining, Lobby Lounge and Room Service Kitchen. In 2018, I joined Aloft and Element Me’aisam complex as a sous chef as part of the pre-opening team. I then moved to Aloft Dubai South as part of the pre-opening team as head chef.
What are your three biggest challenges?
We are the first hotel in Dubai South district and it can be hard to convince our suppliers to deliver to our location. Keeping a close eye on the food cost as we continue to ramp up the business and we need to be accurate with our purchases and align this to expected guest numbers. Deliver as much variety as possible and cater for our in-house and walk-in guests working in the neighbourhood mainly in Dubai World Central airport and the business zones around the hotel.
Tell us about your work strategies
• Training my team and sharing feedback to ensure we are all continuously learning from one another.
• Creating unique dishes so that I can enjoy being creative.
• Having a well organised workspace and work environment.
Three things you absolutely enjoy about your job.
• I enjoy making food for others and like all chefs, I enjoy receiving compliments for my food.
• Watching my ideas becoming a reality, executing them perfectly and then watching the guest take the first bite.
• The sense of satisfaction and the great feeling we get after we execute successful functions and a busy food service.
Describe your single biggest achievement.
My single biggest achievement to date is the successful opening and execution of the kitchen operation in Aloft Dubai South. We are a small operation so we have a small team and everyone needs to be hands-on and it is an environment that can offer a fantastic learning experience for everyone.
Advice received: Be kind to people and treat everyone as you would want to be treated.
Meal: Rice with mom’s raw mango curry and beef fry
Holiday Destination: Munaar Hill Station, South India
Hotel stay experience: Coconut Lagoon Resort located near the backwaters of Kerala, India
Hobbies: Watching movies, playing badminton, browsing culinary pages