Artemis Grill is a newly-opened Mediterranean restaurant on the 40th floor of CapitaGreen. It can accommodate up to 120 people, with a private room seating of up to 40. The kitchen is headed by Chef Fernando Arevalo, and he shares some of his insights in an exclusive interview below:
How did you get into the F&B industry?
My first job in the industry was for private BBQs back in Colombia as a teenager. I used to do one or two of them a week to earn extra money whilst still in school. From there on I have always worked in F&B.
As a Chef you need to have creative flair, but how does that creativity translate to business?
I really like this question. Creative flair is essential. In a growing industry like Singapore, where chefs everywhere are working hard to make a difference, only creative flair can keep you alive.
In my opinion, in any kind of restaurant being good in the business aspect is essential, and basically any chef worth his or her salt is capable of handling that part of the job exceedingly well. But what makes you truly excellent is not giving people what they want... It's giving people more than that, more than they ever expected to get. It's giving people an experience, something that exceeds their expectations, and that's where the creative flair comes in.
In other words, I don't think that creative flair is intimately involved in the business part of being a chef, except for the essential fact that without it your business will never truly succeed.
However, this does not necessarily mean that creativity does not help business. For example, being creative allows a chef to create revenue from trimmings of prime cuts, and thus properly profit from every single part of the products and produce that is used in the kitchen.
What's the most important business skill a Chef needs to have, and why?
In my opinion, management is the most important skill a chef needs. I believe that there is no success in any discipline without the help of others, but this is particularly true in the kitchen. The chef must be able to manage effectively, to communicate properly, and to be able to transmit passion and respect of food to everyone.
Not only the cooks, but also the waiters and managers, need to understand very clearly the concept the chef wants to transmit. Also, kitchens are very harsh environments, and a chef must keep his staff motivated and passionate about what they are doing. They must believe that their sacrifices have a meaning, and that the person in charge is worth fighting for.
What's the biggest mistake young, up and coming Chefs make, and what should they do instead?
The biggest mistake is making career decisions based on money. To be a chef is a long journey, filled with sacrifices; but you must endure and keep focused on the objective throughout, which is to learn as much as possible. Through your career, always work with the best; they may pay less, but they will teach you more. Focus on becoming an expert at your trade, and then the money will come.
Making money your symbol of success is a guaranteed failure. Most successful chefs are driven by passion and love for what they do. Money is just an extra perk.
What's the best advice you've ever been given regarding the F&B industry?
The best piece of advice so far was “don't take yourself too seriously." F&B is extremely competitive, and there are tons of extremely talented people in the business. Celebrate your victories, but leave pride and ego out of the way. Stay humble and keep an open mind.
From a commercial standpoint, where do you see yourself headed in 5 years time?
For me it's hard to see myself in the future. All I can say is that five years ago I was working the line day and night, learning as much as I could. I was working 94 hours a week. Now I am the head of a great project, with an amazing team behind me working hard for the things I believe in. I hope the next five years are as successful as the past five, and that my passion and drive stay intact.
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