Nestlé Professional MENA has appointed Chef Elie Lteif as culinary advisor. Here, we interview the mastermind behind the kitchen to know more.
Chef Elie, please tell us a bit more about your journey before you landed at Nestlé.
I started my career as a chef in 2001, then graduated from Hospitality Kitchen and Pastry Arts in 2004 with honours. With a strong passion towards the kitchen and all its aspects, and a profound love for food preparation, I specialised in French cuisine, working for international brands such as Le Bistro De Beirut and Entrecote de Paris.
I then moved to international chain Buddha Bar, joining the pre-opening teams as chef de partie. Passionate about more than 11 types of cuisine, I tend to create menus and theme nights, as well as special and private events that mix various tastes.
In 2005, I moved to the hotels sector at Le Royal Hotel Beirut, a 5-star hotel, as chef de partie where I got promoted to junior sous chef. In 2008, I shifted to hospitality management as head chef, and was then promoted to executive chef for pre-opening projects at Le Noir Motion Lounge in Beirut.
In 2013, I moved to Dubai for an executive chef role at Cedar Dining Hospitality Management, leading a culinary team of 120 employees, and handling seven outlets and central kitchen production serving international and modern Lebanese cuisines with a massive catering operation.
In 2016, I was part of the pre-opening team as executive chef for Metropolitan Boutique Hotel under Habtoor Hospitality Group, handling all six outlets including a pub, Italian restaurant, sushi bar, all-day dining, the banquet and room service, plus catering events.
From 2017 until now, I have been executive chef at Nassima Royal Hotel, which was turned into VOCO Hotel Dubai under IHG management and part of the pre-opening team for the first VOCO brand in Middle East, handling all culinary operations.
What aspects of culinary are you most passionate about?
I have been a chef for over 20 years, with each phase of my career surrounding me with over 15 types of cuisine. I found myself constantly looking for new, fresh concepts which were more appealing to me than traditional ones. I use this mindset in all my recipes, and implement it with cooking methods/style as well.
I try to stay up to date with new cooking technologies and types of cuisine, then use use my creativity to ultimately craft it all my own way.
In terms of innovation, what do you aim to bring to the role?
As it’s a challenging time in the F&B industry when it comes to budgeting and manpower, I intend to provide chefs with a quicker, tastier, more creative, and more consistent and cost-effective solution.
What are some of the most important trends you will be focusing on?
The plant-based/vegan/flexitarian lifestyles are trending right now. I will be focusing on driving SWEET EARTH® as one of Nestlé’s brands, bringing it to life in restaurant and hotel menus by creating new recipes using this high-end range.