Behind the scenes with the Viceroy’s ‘sweet-tooth’ fairy

Reem H

1 year ago

Over the years, Yas Island has gained a global reputation for being a top destination for leisure, business and entertainment, as well as its culinary diversity and ingenuity. The 5-star Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi has specifically left a mark with its award-winning brunch and its assorted dining options catering to the most discerning of palates, quickly becoming the destination of choice for even the most seasoned food critics.  Visitors to the Yas Viceroy can always look forward to indulging in a rewarding experience, from its appetizing beginnings to the very exceptional sweet endings.

For our inaugural edition of 25SQR, we went behind the scenes to meet with the Viceroy’s very own curator of sweets, and pastry magician, Chef Chintaka Wekadapola.

In this one-on-one interview, Chef Chintaka takes us through his journey from the early days of his career in Sri Lanka to his dessert artistic perfection training in Switzerland and Germany, leading us all the way to today – where he holds long-term tenure at the hotel, and continues to be a valuable member of the Yas Island family.

  1. What ignited your passion for cooking? What does it mean to you?  

    My true passion in life is for people to enjoy my food. I love cooking, and I consider it both a gift and a great honor to see pure joy on the faces of people who have tasted something I cooked from the heart. The human element is an integral part of the work I do, and so I do not focus just on cooking but rather on the guest experience, and how to make them enjoy it so much that they always come back for more. I do not just rely on taste with my creations, but I feed the senses. I ensure that I am catering to the palate, the eyes and the sense of smell to create a really unforgettable holistic experience.

  2. Tell us more about how you started your career…  

    I started my career in Sri Lanka where I studied and practiced baking at a local bakery for around 6 months. From that point I knew that this would be my passion and I decided to go down this career path.I came to Abu Dhabi back in 1994, and I was fascinated by the learning opportunities that became accessible to me here. I was able to travel to countries like Germany to get higher-level training and bring this knowledge with me to Abu Dhabi. I was particularly privileged to be able to develop my skills in sugar, chocolate and ice carving, and this qualified me to work on the opening of Abu Dhabi’s iconic Emirates Palace hotel.

  3. How did you join the Yas Island team?  

    Having been recognized for that work, I was given the opportunity to join the Yas Viceroy pre-opening team in 2009.When I heard about Yas Island being a promising project, I was interested. Learning more about its ambitious vision of being home to world-class destinations, I knew I wanted to be part of the team who will bring only the ‘best of the best’ to Abu Dhabi.I joined the Yas Viceroy and following a successful opening, I decided that this is where I want to continue working for the long-term.

  4. What is your favorite memory on Yas Island?  

    I would have to say that one of my truly favorite memories is working on our grand opening in 2009. We managed to open 6 main restaurants that boasted very diverse cuisines. We really worked hard to put together unique creations to mark the occasion – and the results were phenomenal. We received recognition by many VIPs and visitors made this a true highlight for the entire time, and a personal milestone that I am very proud to achieve in my life.Another moment that has been a recurring favorite is the F1 season every year. We’ve given special attention to creating a bespoke culinary experience for our visitors, carving chocolate Ferrari Cars one year, or serving them a platter of deconstructed car components (specifically bolt-shaped) desserts this year.Most recently, we hosted a large fashion gala dinner and I created a large dress shaped dessert that received applause as it was unveiled to the audience.

  5. In your opinion what makes Yas Island a unique destination? Why do you choose to call it home?  

    I think Yas Island is one of the greatest destinations in the world! We have world-renowned attractions like Yas Waterworld, Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, Yas Mall and the soon to open Warner Brother all within just a few minutes from each other. Besides having these wonderful attractions, we have a great team that is friendly, committed and above all, passionate about their work. The Yas Island family inspires and supports me to do better each and every day. I am happy to call this place my home and look forward to working here for years to come.

  6. What is the dish you are most proud of creating and sharing with Yas Island’s visitors?  

    There are many creations like the layered chocolate cake I’ve created for several Yas Viceroy celebrations which includes a combination of rich chocolate, coco jelly, chocolate mousse and much more.However, my personal favorite is the diverse range of dessert mousse that we offer our visitors using the molecular gastronomy technique. We are one of very hotels in the country that use this technique and have created our very own spin to offer our visitors creations that they will not find anywhere else in the UAE.

  7. Away from the kitchen at the Yas Viceroy, what is your favorite activity on the Island?  

    I love spending time with my family at Yas mall. It truly has something for every member of the family. I look forward to visiting Yas Waterwold very soon.

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