Jasjit (JJ) Singh Assi
Four Seasons Tenure
- Since 2008
- First Four Seasons Assignment: Restaurant Manager, San-Qi at Four Seasons Hotel Mumbai
- Four Seasons Hotel Sydney; Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai; Four Seasons Hotel Mumbai; The Park, New Delhi
- Punjab, India
- Bachelor’s degree, Dr. Ambedkar Institute of Hotel Management, Chandigarh, Punjab, India
- English, Hindi, Punjabi
Jasjit Singh Assi, more commonly known as “JJ” at Four Seasons, insists that the key to his career with Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts was a combination of salmon tikka and white zinfandel. Not usually a combination famous for kick-starting successful careers, but according to JJ, this was what paved the way for him.
“At the time I was working at The Park in New Delhi in the contemporary Indian restaurant. A guest came to dine, but the restaurant was full and he had to wait for a few minutes. I took care of him, and suggested that he might like to try the salmon tikka with the wine he’d chosen, a Robert Mondavi white zinfandel. He declined and went for something else, but I offered him one on the house anyway as I really wanted him to experience the flavours since it’s such a winning combination.”
That guest happened to be the then General Manager of Four Seasons Hotel Mumbai, Armando Kraenzlin, who was looking for a manager for the Hotel’s new signature restaurant, San-Qi - and JJ believes it was this episode that led to Kraenzlin offering him a job with Four Seasons.
Born in Punjab in India to an army family, JJ spent a great deal of his childhood travelling around as his father was posted to various different regions of the country. It was this peripatetic upbringing that inspired a love of travel, not only in his own country (JJ insists that the most beautiful places that visitors to India should experience are Udaipur, Ladakh and Leh), but also further afield.
A career in hotels wasn’t actually JJ’s first choice. Initially he had planned to follow in his father’s footsteps and join the army. But unfortunately, his eyesight wasn’t good enough, so a career in hotels seemed like the best alternative for someone with a love of travel. JJ studied in Chandigarh and joined The Park in New Delhi as a management trainee, within a year being promoted to assistant manager. He was in charge of the coffee shop, moving on to the Indian restaurant, and then the hotel’s nightclub.
His career with Four Seasons began on that unexpected day of salmon and white wine, with his appointment as manager of San-Qi. One of the most memorable times for him at Four Seasons Hotel Mumbai was in 2010 when San-Qi was rated Best Asian Restaurant and the Hotel’s bar Aer was rated Best Bar in Mumbai by The Times Of India, The Hindustan Times and a number of other publications. But perhaps the highlight of JJ’s career in Mumbai was the opening of the highly-anticipated Aer, the Hotel’s rooftop bar, which immediately became known as the hottest hangout in the city. In addition to training and managing daily operations, JJ was responsible for ensuring a successful and smooth opening of the bar.
“Every weekend we would have up to 200 guests waiting to zoom up to the 33rd floor in Aer’s dedicated lift. There was always a great buzz in the lobby, the car park was full, and we even had traffic jams in the street outside the Hotel with people desperate to come in and experience the bar. People would try all types of tactics to jump the queue,” says JJ.
But after the hectic urban lifestyle of Mumbai, it was time for JJ to take on a new challenge in a more peaceful environment. He joined Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai as Restaurant and Bar Manager in June 2011 and was promoted to Director of Food and Beverage in January 2013.
Then Sydney beckoned, and with a strong interest in Australian wine and culture, JJ moved to Four Seasons Hotel Sydney in 2014. Among many feathers in his cap while in Sydney was the launch of Pei Modern, the Hotel's bistro restaurant helmed by acclaimed chef Mark Best. Sydney-siders and Hotel guests embraced the new concept wholeheartedly and Pei Modern has fast risen to popularity.
When asked what he enjoys most about his role at the Hotel, he says it’s all about doing his part to ensure that the guests have a memorable visit. “It’s the little things that matter, the minor details that really make an experience special. I always try to welcome every guest to the Hotel as if I am welcoming them into my home. And if I can contribute in some small way to making a guest’s stay even more memorable, to me I’ve succeeded.”
His return to Mumbai is a happy homecoming, back to Four Seasons Hotel Mumbai where it all began. JJ likens it to cricket - a return to homeground. He says - "I feel a fresh zeal of energy and enthusiasm that is being fueled by a dynamic, young team who are all determined to help define and share a true Four Seasons experience."