With almost three decades of kitchen and F&B management experience across hospitality establishments in Italy, France, U.K., Thailand, China and Korea, Chef Stefano Di Salvo currently oversees the culinary operations at JW Marriott Hotel Singapore South Beach as the hotel’s Executive Chef.
Born to a Sicilian father and Napolian mother in Torino, Italy, Chef Stefano started working in a small restaurant in Genova when he was just 15 years old. He went on to attain his professional training in hotel trade cuisine before honing his career in the hospitality sector across Italy, France, U.K., and subsequently, Asia from 2001.
After his stints in Thailand, China and South Korea, he joined JW Marriott in May 2014 as the Executive Chef of Chef JW Marriott Dongdaemun Square Seoul in South Korea.
Over the last 15 years in Asia, Chef Stefano has been recognized as an expert in setting up culinary operations in new hotel properties and has supported the international hotel groups that he has worked at in countless pre-opening projects around the world.
In his current role at the very first JW Marriott hotel in Singapore, Chef Stefano will be overseeing and supporting the culinary operations across all F&B functions in the hotel, including banquet, in-room dining, catering for meetings and events, as well as the nine hotel F&B outlets that includes a signature restaurant, an all-day dining outlet, a gin bar, a specialty cocktail and wine bar to name a few.
“We are exceptionally excited about the nine different F&B outlets at JW Marriot South Beach that we will be introducing in the upcoming months. Each of the outlets will be unique to its own and will be able to cater to a myriad of hotel and local guests,” says Chef Stefano.
1. What is your philosophy when it comes to food?
My philosophy is to keep the food simple, but to present it with a modern twist. I strongly believe that one should master the basics before they attempt to incorporate the latest trends. Once these two factors are well managed, you will continue to grow as a chef and be successful.
2. Name your most Favourite dish on the menu? And why?
Although it is the simplest dish on our menu in terms of its ingredients and preparation method, I truly enjoy the Rucola Salad. The key to this dish is to use the freshest Italian tomatoes and good quality Burrata Cheese both of which I consider to be my favourite comfort foods! Most Italians would have to agree with me!
3. Main considerations when it comes to choosing your ingredients?
In general, I follow the season and look for the best ingredients. Quality is something I never compromise. Working with good ingredients makes the difference, it will elevate both the product and your skills in how you handle them. I also think that the process of choosing ingredients is very personal as it inspires each chef differently. So, I would say my food philosophy and past experiences in the kitchen play a role as well.
4. How do you see the growing demands for sustainable produce affecting the food world?
We are starting to notice an increased awareness towards socially and environmentally responsible food practices amongst customers – they are starting to become more knowledgeable about where the food they eat comes from and how it is produced. Food businesses will definitely have to place a larger emphasis on sustainability with regards to their values and practices. This will definitely be challenging, especially for cities such as Singapore where most produce is imported. I think it will force chefs to become more creative with their dishes if they eliminate non-sustainable foods in their restaurants.
5. If you weren’t a chef, or in the food business, what would you be?
Probably a photographer – Photography is another passion of mine – or an artisan carpenter. I find a sense of satisfaction with woodworking and being able to create something with my hands.
6. Do you have a memorable food experience that impacted you as a child or young chef?
After I finished hospitality school, I was eager to start working and start learning (even though I was on a scholarship to further my studies). At the beginning I was doing mainly seasonal work in between school terms, such a summer or winter season in a hotel. Then I was called to join my first 5-star hotel in Rome. It was an amazing experience for me, and I learnt a lot from the Executive Chef there at that time. We also got a Michelin star during the period that I worked there! I was only 23 years old then and the whole experience changed my career and shaped me as a chef.
7. What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
I love the whole creative process to being a chef – working with different ingredients, understanding how each flavor complements or enhances a particular dish. Although I have been a chef for most of my life, I am still amazed that I can discover a completely new ingredient or combination of flavor every time I cook. This way, I have new challenges and opportunities every day, which makes cooking exciting! Of course, knowing that my food makes people happy is one of the best feelings in the world.
8. Other than creating good food, what are the most important qualities that make a successful chef?
I believe that managing people is one of the important qualities that a chef needs to have. A great team makes a great chef and a great chef makes a great team – this is something I still remember from one of my teachers, when I was just starting out in this profession, and is something that I always remember.
9. If you had a choice of anything for your last meal, what would you choose to have?
Definitely my mother’s cooking! It’s hard to pick one particular dish but if I really have to, it would probably be Gnocchi alla Romana. It is a rustic and very traditional dish that is smooth and creamy – the gnocchi is made with semolina, and the dish is baked with cheese. It is a very homely dish and I remember it very fondly.
10. Do you have any tips for budding chefs or restauranteurs?
Find time to make friends who share your passion for food. I think sharing the same passion definitely makes for a great friend and advisor, and I always find time for that, even just for a simple coffee and chat about food, and anything related to that. It is great to step out of your own kitchen to get new ideas and even a new perspective from someone else in the industry.
To read more about Beach Road Kitchen, visit: savourblackbookasia.com/beach-road-kitchen-singapore/
JW Marriott Singapore South Beach Level 1, South Beach Avenue
30 Beach Road, Singapore 189763
A La Carte
6am – 10pm (Daily)
630am – 1030am (Mon-Fri) 630am – 11am (Sat-Sun)
12pm – 230pm (Mon-Fri) 12pm – 3pm (Sat)
6pm – 10pm (Daily)
12pm to 3pm (Sun)
TELEPHONE: (65) 6818 1913