Two generations after his family anchored their working life in colonial Vietnam, a French chef has followed up on his fascination with this legacy to command the kitchens at the country’s most storied hotel, the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi.
As the hotel’s new executive chef, Olivier Piganiol will oversee operations at the French restaurant, Le Beaulieu; Vietnamese restaurant, Spices Garden; Italian restaurant, Angelina; and in the hotel’s three bars, Le Club, La Terasse and at the all new Bamboo Bar.
After five years at the landmark Dharmawangsa in Jakarta, the Metropole became an inevitable move for Piganiol, partly because of his family’s connection and partly from an affinity for the charm and charisma of a classic property. The Metropole’s stature as an historic property will determine the philosophy behind his moves in the kitchen, said the chef.
“The architecture of the building decides what you do in the kitchen because, in many ways, the architecture of the building decides what kind of guest checks in,” said Piganiol. “The splendor of the hotel must be evident in the splendor of the dish.”
After graduating with a degree in culinary arts from CFA La Noue in Dijon, Piganiol spent 10 years working in restaurants that had won two and three stars from Michelin: At the Bernard Loiseau (3 stars) and Pierre Gagnaire (3 stars), he established his credentials as an apprentice and as chef de partie.
“Hotel chefs often graduate from hotel schools and work from the get-go in hotel restaurants. Not so with Olivier,” said Kai Speth, the Metropole’s GM. “His first 10 years as a chef were all about the passion, not the career, as he made his way through a constellation of restaurants in France, earning his stripes.”
In 2000, Piganiol landed at a Ritz Carlton Hotel, and he’s been with hotels ever since, with Hilton, with Rosewood and most recently at the Dharmawangsa. When an opportunity at the Metropole opened up, Piganiol knew it was a move he had to make.
His grandfather was a prominent doctor in the French military who was based in Vietnam for 6-7 years in the 1940s. His uncle was born in Lang Son. His grandmother worked as a nurse at the Pasteur Hospital in Saigon. Throughout his youth, Vietnam was frequently talked about, conversation that sowed seeds of wonder that finally found flower in Hanoi.
“People always ask why you go where you go, and so often the moves we make are accidental,” said Piganiol. “But here in Hanoi, this doesn’t feel like an accident.”
Source = Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi