It's been a busy year at the Marriott, what with acquiring the Starwood hotels & resorts chain and revamping the Cairo Marriott Hotel's menus for all 14 restaurants/pubs, room service and weddings. The man in charge of the Cairo Marriott's revolutionary revamp is French chef, Philippe Bossert.
Since his arrival in June, Executive Chef Bossert has been taking on the task of adding his personal je ne sais quois to every single dish served at the hotel. "I have good chefs – they know how to cook nice food," he says, "but they need to understand my vision. "
According to that vision, sixty percent of cooking is about the quality of the products; "if you do not have the quality in the beginning, you cannot have it in the end," Bossert claims.
Under his command, at least 4 to 5 people check the daily delivery of fruits and vegetables to ensure that they are up to scratch. However, finding top notch ingredients in Cairo presented a struggle for the chef, as did building trust with suppliers in the Obour City market, where the hotel sources its produce.
"When you buy a car, you buy a brand," claims Bossert. "It's the same with food."
Working as a team is paramount when it comes to the food industry, says Bossert. He likens assembling a team and working together to serve their best effort to the construction of the pyramids of Giza, saying, "it's not just built in one day – it takes patience and teamwork".
The main difference between working in a restaurant and working in a hotel is management; in a restaurant, he says, you're managing around 10 chefs, whereas in a hotel it's 300. As daunting as that sounds, working with large teams is what Bossert says attracted him to hotels; bringing a team together and keeping everyone happy, is a challenge the French chef welcomes.
"There was a chef in one of the restaurants who was always in a corner," he recalls. "This guy was not happy – I could feel it. If somebody is not happy, they will not do a good job. So I moved him to the bakery to make sandwiches in front of the guests and to interact with them – and now he is happy."
Naturally, keeping customers happy is also at the top of Chef Bossert's priorities, as he finds that happy medium between catering to local tastes and adding his own unique flavour. This was easy to accomplish, he says, as he feels Egypt does not have a 'strong' cuisine and local taste like that of Italy, or even Lebanon.
However, for Bossert, molokheya stands out; "it's a basic – like the French duck foie gras.
"[For the Marriott's Saraya restaurant] I like to make it with scallops, with shrimps..." he told us, before going on to describe Saraya's new menu as "French bistro with an Egyptian twist". Another of the more unique dishes that he created for the restaurant is pigeon stuffed with foie gras and truffles.
Bossert claims that before he took over the hotel chain's food services, the base was there but they were missing "the taste". The key, he says, was in making the menu smaller and the quality higher. "Before, [Japanese restaurant] Torii had a seven-page menu. I made it three and brought up the quality."
Having started his career as a chef at the age of sixteen in a Michelin star restaurant, Philippe Bossert has gone on to cook in countries all over the world, such as Thailand and Portugal, and prepare meals for high profile figures such as President Vladimir Putin. Overseeing 14 restaurants and 1087 rooms, he says, is no big deal.
Find out more about new menus on the Cairo Marriott Hotel Facebook page.