Meet Executive Chef – Eric Henri Drogueux
Born in France, Eric is an experienced chef whose career has spanned numerous luxury resorts and restaurants over different continents, working alongside esteemed Michelin-starred chefs. Eric manages all restaurants at Hurawalhi Maldives, including the famous 5.8 Undersea Restaurant – the world’s largest all-glass undersea restaurant. He oversees a variety of cuisines, including the Asian street food inspired Kashibo restaurant and bar, buffet and à la carte Canneli Restaurant, and the indulgent Junk Food Kitchen with plenty of vegan options.
We managed to steal some time in Eric’s busy schedule to find out about his culinary career and his experience of life in the Maldives…
What is your favourite dish to create?
I like to work with fish, which is very fortunate as here in the Maldives it’s in plentiful supply! This fragile ingredient pushes you to use the highest level of skills with great accuracy; fish dishes demand pristine freshness and the fish here is the freshest you’ll get anywhere in the world. I am currently working on a new dish that uses seawater fermentation and seaweed – look out for it appearing on the menu at Hurawalhi once perfected!
What do you love about being in the Maldives?
The Maldives offers a quality of life that’s not easy to find in other places around the world. Warm weather all year, calm days, the possibility of dive in some of the best spots in the world, or to enjoy all kinds of water activities. Besides that, Maldives occupies a nice geographical position that allows travelling in Asia and in Europe quite easily.
How did you become a chef?
At the beginning, my scholarship background was from Accounting, and then I studied for a degree in economics and law. Cooking at this time was more like a hobby, influenced by my grandmother and my mother, both exceptionally skilled in cuisine. Then, one summer, I decided to work in a restaurant close to my hometown, and that was the end of school for me – I never went back! I love the unlimited possibilities in kitchen, not only with food and creation but also the spectrum of skills used, in my work I use elements of physics, chemistry, physiology, the study of the natural world with regards to vegetables, fruits and animals, I also get to use my management and finance skills as well as countless others.
What is your experience working with finest ingredients?
Creating exquisite food depends on a couple of simple criteria: love and care in what we are doing, and getting the best products based on the season. My different experiences working in high end outlets, and the richness of my native area in terms of products, gave me the chance to use superb products at a very early stage of my life.
What is your vision for Hurawalhi?
My vision is to offer the very best of what is possible, with this reflected in the guests’ experiences. I believe sustainability should not only focus on products or energy, but that we must lead and be innovative in terms food and beverage offerings with a focus on the environment and sustainability, as well as new dietary and lifestyle habits. Reduction of the use of plastic and packaging, choice of producers and suppliers, reusing food trimmings and left overs, and looking at the materials used in the outlets are some of the points that I’d like to take to the next level. I would like to see thriving partnerships with hospitality schools in the Maldives, to set stronger bases for the next generation of Maldivian professionals, I believe the future belongs to them.