Four Seasons Tenure
- Since 2014
- First Four Seasons Assignment: Current
- One & Only The Palm Resort, Dubai; Cristal Room Baccarat, Moscow; Mercury Group, Moscow; Carré Blanc, Moscow; El Dorado and Le Gourmet, Moscow; Sofitel Hotels & Resorts, Conventions & Suites, Bahia, Brazil; Restaurant Brasserie Allez, Sao Paulo; Le Jardin des Sens, Montpelier, France; Chez Léonce, Brussels; La Barbacane, Carcassonne, France; La Sall a Manger and La Table du Marche, Bergerac, France; La Cour d’Alsace Hotel; Chez Julien, Stasbourg
- Diploma, C.A.P – Professional Cook, CEFPPA Illkirch Graffenstaden
- Haguenau, France
- French, English, Russian, Portuguese
David Hemmerle is in Moscow again – and this time Four Seasons has got him. “I worked in the city for nine years until 2010. It’s amazing to be back as part of this wonderful project,” he says of his appointment as Executive Chef of Four Seasons Hotel Moscow. “Previously, I was at a restaurant on a street nearby. Every day I would pass in front of this hotel going up on Red Square and think: ‘who is the crazy chef who is going to work at this place?’ Now I have the answer.”
And he has the kitchen. Hemmerle creates menus and fashions the scene at Quadrum, specializing in authentic Italian cuisine, and Bystro, a scintillating destination for organic breakfast and dinner of contemporary Russian cuisine with a Nordic touch. “That’s a new trend in Moscow,” he says of the latter. Hemmerle also oversees the offerings at Moskovsky Bar, afternoon tea at Silk Lounge, light dishes served poolside at Amnis Café, and an extensive in-room dining and banqueting menus.
Things have changed quite a bit since the chef’s first run in the Russian capital, when he was chef de cuisine at a fine-dining French restaurant just off Red Square. While his culinary talent made him “quite famous” across the city, back then dining was more about design and luxury than what appeared on the plate. “The hospitality business in Moscow has grown a lot over the last decade,” he says. “Russian expectations of food quality and service are now higher than ever.”
Fortunately, plenty more has changed, too. Previously, farmers often lacked proper certification to sell to hotels and restaurants in Moscow, so chefs had to keep their wits about them on purchases or rely on imports. Now, not only are local farmers producing top-quality ingredients – seasonal vegetables, meat, poultry, milk, mushrooms and organic eggs – but interactions between producers and restaurants are better regulated, to the benefit of all. Meanwhile, authorities are being proactive, encouraging restaurateurs to open small venues and street food outlets to more fully utilize local product.
“I used to import a lot of French products. The cost was very high, but I could get them because I had connections,” recalls Hemmerle. “Now, we have a manager who has worked with local farmers and a talented young Russian chef who really knows the market. Through team work, we use as much local product as we can.”
Hemmerle’s road to Moscow’s top-of-the-line address was a long and interesting one. He recalls seeing his future in a flash when he was eight years old dining at a restaurant in Lauterbourg, France. “My grandfather was the mayor, so I often accompanied him to the best restaurants in the region. Once on his birthday, the chef came to the table and I asked if I could see the kitchen. When he took me back, I remember saying to myself, ‘maybe one day I will work in this place.’ And that’s what happened.”
There was more of note in between. Hermmerle spent time in an orphanage, often drawing and painting to keep the situation at bay before deciding that he needed to build a life for himself. Later, while visiting his grandfather, he crossed paths with a cook from the restaurant that had offered the kitchen tour. Turns out, the restaurant had room for an apprentice.
“Back at the orphanage, I told the judge my plans. He said he didn’t think I was up to it. I persisted. He said, ‘You can’t – it’s very hard.’ I said ‘you know nothing about me; you are just reading a report. If you don’t give me my freedom, you’ll have to call the army to stop me.’”
And that, ladies and gentlemen, was the start of Hemmerle’s culinary career.
There were many stops on the way to his current assignment, of course, including work on three continents and a most-recent turn as executive chef under a three-Michelin-starred chef in Dubai.
With the recent progress of hospitality in Moscow has come increased competition. Hemmerle is attentive, but not alarmed. “Italian cuisine is very popular here and there are a lot of talented chefs in the city. But with our focus on the quality of food and service, we’re bringing something different and exceeding the expectations of the people.”
With five venues to go around, Hemmerle’s kitchen at Four Seasons Hotel Moscow is quite a scene. “That’s okay, I’m full of energy,” he says, noting that during down time off the job he likes to rollerblade and run in a forest near his home. “I need to move, I can not stop. And when I do stop, I read culinary books.”