OLIVER DOVEY – FINALIST PRIZE DIARY – PART #3 – SIX SENSES ZIL PAYSON

Posted on January 17, 2018

Oliver Dovey

Six Senses Zil Payson, Seychelles – Diary 2017

Part 1

Day 1 – Arrival

Today I landed in the Seychelles after 19 hours of travelling. I stopped off at London, Abu Dhabi, Mahe, Praline and then finally Six Senses. Landing in the Seychelles was magical, as I looked out of the window you could see how clear and blue the sea is.

I was picked up from the airport and driving to the port of Mahe island where I waited for my first boat. When I got to Praline I was quickly snapped up by the six senses team and put on their private speed boat to be taken to the hotel. When I arrived the executive chef and the general manager were waiting by the jetty to welcome me.

The Executive Chef Richard took me on a tour around the island. It is amazing not only the views, the sunsets and the nature but also what six senses has managed to do on the island. they are 95% self-sufficient, making their own drinking water, electricity, gas, they have their own recycling plant and they even produce their own bio fuel. I was taken up to my staff accommodation, as they were a general manager short I was given the executive’s staff accommodation, which was like a suit! it was at the top of the mountain, so I had an amazing view right across the island and out to sea.Oliver hard at work in the Seychelles

Day 2 – Sushi Night

So today was my first day in the kitchen. I was shown around meeting everyone and explained how it works. As it is a remote island the guests rely on us 100% for food. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, boat trips, parties anything they want they shall receive.

I was set to help their Sushi Chef with preparation for that evening as it was Sushi Night. I cannot count how many I made but I learnt how to make them one to one with a very experienced Chef. For service we set up on their chef’s table in the restaurant interacting with the customers and making fresh Sushi and Sashimi constantly. One customer asked if he could have a photo with both the chef and I, so we posed and then we went on to teach him how to make Sushi. It felt amazing using the knowledge I had only learnt hours ago to teach someone else how to do it.

Day 3 – BBQ night

Today in the evening a BBQ and movie night were planned for the customers. I spent the day going between the larder section where we made all the complex salads, to go with the BBQ. I worked on fish section breaking down the lobsters, shrimps and crabs as well as the meat section preparing dry-aged rib eyes, pork cutlets and lamb spiced lamb.

During the BBQ it was again set up outside next to the restaurant. the customers would come and ask for specific items which they would then pass to me (doing meat) and Billi (doing the fish) where we would marinade and cook to their liking

BuffetDay 4 – Tali

Today was the Tali night so i spent the whole day working on the Indian section making curry pastes, roti’s, sauces and drinks.

The dishes were mainly based on Bangladeshi cuisine which I have not experienced before so it was a whole new learning experiences talking and understanding their flavour combinations and how to balance the spices.

During the Tali service I was working on the main courses, cooking the assortment of curries, dahls, rice’s and sauces as well as making fresh poppadum’s.

Day 5 – Creole

Today I was working in the ocean kitchen in their creole restaurant. As I have never experienced traditional creole food it was a brand-new experience to me.scallops

How they prepared food, cooked it, presented it and even the flavour matching. They use local ingredients all farmed from that island or the surrounding islands, so it was a great experience working with food that was so fresh.

They caught me many tricks that I have never heard before which I shall be taking forward with me in my future career.

During services I was working between the starter and the main course which consisted of a palm heart salad with sweetened green mango, crevice of tuna. The main course was an octopus curry which was sweet and very citric or fresh fish BBQ.

Day 6

Today was my day off so I took the boat over to Praslin island with the sous chef, we went around the island taking me to beaches. we also went and visited the coco de mare tree which grows that largest nut in the world that can only be grown on this specific island. It was surrounded by police and guards as it is a popular place for poachers as each nut sells from £500 per unit, minimum.

Day 7 – Thai night

Today was one of the nights I was looking forward to the most as I have a great love for Thai cuisine as well as I have spent many summers there. I was working with their Thai chef.

We made all the food for that evening, Thai curries, salads, roasted rice powders, curry pastes for pad Thai and many more dishes.

I felt very comfortable on this section as I have cooked a lot of Thai food myself. The service was busier than usual, and we completely sold out on everything, with many compliments coming back to the kitchen.

Day 8 – Lobster Night

lobsterToday was their fine dining lobster tasting menu. It was based in ocean kitchen again with the creole chefs so everything with creole influenced. As I have spent my whole career in fine dining it was the most comfortable felt.

To start was a gazpacho of melon with dill oil. The second course was poached lobster wrapped in nori served with crispy nori, avocado croquette, lemongrass panna cotta and fresh pomegranate.

The next course was grilled lobster served with sweetened mango and coriander infused rice. The dessert was a chocolate fondant.

It was the style of food I was used to and the busy stressful service that I crave for.

Day 9 – Bakery

Today was my first day on the pastry section. I started early in the morning making the breads from fresh, shaping all of the breads and working with their signature sour dough.

I also made croissants and muffins from fresh for the breakfast. Next, I helped with the pastry preparation for that night, making the creme brulee, panna cottas and all the amenities for the rooms.

In the evening I helped with the services, making the fresh butter, cooking the breads and plating the desserts. I have a love hate relationship with pastry, when I do it for so long I hate it but when I don’t do it I love it and I miss it. So it was a great relief to do some pastry work!!

Day 10 – Pastry/Sushi Night

Today I was working with the pastry team. I made their ice creams and sorbets and the breads again during the day. They have such a talented team base, because it was coming to Halloween they had a pumpkin carving competition. The pastry sous chef is a competition winning cake chef so he was carving the pumpkin. He was working for 30 minutes on it and it was the best one I have ever seen. so detailed and obviously a very talented chef.

It was sushi night again, this time I was working with the pastry again plating all their desserts but when we had no orders I would run downstairs to help the sushi chef.

Day 11

Today is the start to my holiday, I packed my bags and I was picked up at 9 in the morning. I was brought straight to my room and told I am now a guest for the remaining time on the island. I was full board so I had everything for free and I could enjoy all of the facilities which was amazing!!

The room was massive, my own dressing room, a modern bathroom. my own private pool and dining area. I was given the sunset room, so I had the best view of the sunset as it sets between two islands on the horizon.

This afternoon I went to the national Seychelles fishing competition which was sponsored by the hotel. In total the hotel took 5 tonnes of the best fish, mainly consisting of Yellow fin tuna and massive red snappers. The experience was wonderful as it was only the executive chef and the butcher, we had to inspect each fish and made sure it met the standard required for the clientele

Day 12

Today was my last day working. as I was working in the afternoon I enjoyed a nice long sleep with an amazing breakfast. I spent some time in my pool and exploring a bit around the island.

In the afternoon I helped unload all of the fish that had be caught yesterday and we started the long process of filleting 5 tonnes of yellow fin tuna, kingfish, jobfish and red snapper. I have had quite a lot of experience on the fish section, so I was very comfortable, but it gave me a lot of time to hone and improve my skills.

In the evening I went down to the restaurant and enjoyed a nice meal while watching a film in the open-air cinema which they had. In the evening I went and joined my friends from within the hotel at the staff accommodations and we had a celebration of my last day working.

To be continued…

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