Four Seasons Hotel Pudong, Shanghai
- 210 Century Avenue, 200120 Pudong District Shanghai, China
Four Seasons Tenure
- Since 2000
- First Four Seasons Assignment: Demi Chef de Partie, Four Seasons Hotel George V Paris
- Four Seasons Hotel George V Paris; Restaurant Guy Savoy, Paris; Le Macchi, Chatel, France; La Cognette, Issoudun, France; Chateau Unang, Avignon, France; d’Artigny, Tours, France; Le Bouchut, Paris; Casa Medina Hotel, Bogota, Colombia; Carulla Restaurant, Bogota, Colombia
- Bogota, Colombia
- CAP de Cuisine at the SENA, Bogota, Colombia; Grande Diplome, Le Cordon Bleu, Paris
- Spanish, English, French
“I had to prove I could do it,” recalls Weimar Gomez of his return to Paris at age 30, where he landed as commis chef at the three Michelin Star Restaurant Guy Savoy. Months later he was promoted to chef de partie. And a little over a year after that, he was scooped up into the same position by Four Seasons Hotel George V Paris. It was great job with burgeoning responsibilities that ended with his becoming executive sous chef and bras droit to Executive Chef Eric Briffard. “I worked all over the kitchen. By the end I was chef of Le Galerie, Le Bar and room service.”
But it couldn’t last. “If I’d stayed in Paris, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to grow as I desired. You have to keep growing in this business. So here I am proving I can do it all over again in Pudong.” Indeed. As Executive Chef at Four Seasons Hotel Pudong, Shanghai, Gomez crafts menus and sets the scenes at the Italian restaurant Camelia, and the exceptionally elegant and exclusive Chinese restaurant, Shàng-xí, with just 22 seats but five extraordinary private dining rooms to go around.
Given his background primarily though hardly exclusively in French cuisine, the key for Gomez’s success in Pudong has been hiring talented specialists and diving passionately into his position. Along the way, he has proven exceptional at expanding his knowledge of local ingredients and culinary techniques to assure uniqueness on the plate.
Upon arrival in Shanghai, Gomez gobbled his way through the Pudong dining scene. Generally unimpressed with the “big plate” style of many restaurants in China’s economic capital, he decided to shape his own dishes with the fine French techniques he knows so well, assuring “beautiful presentation” to dazzle diners. Significant to those efforts has been securing ingredients up to Four Seasons standards. “One of the first things I set out to do was to meet as many suppliers as possible,” he says, delighting in the abundance of choice he found in Shanghai, including fish, noodles, mushrooms and vegetables he has rarely experienced. “I’m having a lot of fun with the produce here.”
Gomez has plenty going for him in Pudong, not least his own history of culinary innovation. Initially intent upon becoming an architect, after high school he took work at a restaurant to finance his drafting dream. At the encouragement of colleagues, he entered a gastronomic festival in Casa Medina and, at the age of 17, saw his talent immediately recognized by an instructor from Le Cordon Bleu. Wasting no time, Gomez packed for culinary training first in Bogota and then Paris, where he was awarded a Grand Diploma from Le Cordon Bleu in 1995. He spent the years prior to joining Four Seasons working at hotels and restaurants across France and in Miami, where he spent two years as a private chef. “I knew I wasn’t going to grow there, either.”
Though training has been important in shaping Gomez’s culinary talents, even more significant is the passion he finds in the kitchen. “Being a cook is a long, tough road,” he says, with no hint of weariness. “You go hour after hour every day. It takes passion and drive to excel, to do things better each day than you did them the day before. That passion follows me all the time.”
No doubt plenty of culinary professionals would happily follow Gomez - if they could keep up. When not hard at work in the kitchen at Four Seasons Hotel Pudong, Shanghai, he keeps his head clear and physique in tip-top condition running marathons. To date, he has completed Paris, London, Chicago, Boston and New York and was looking forward to a 26-plus-mile haul through Shanghai in November 2012. “The only way to find the time to marathon is to sacrifice sleep,” he says, still unwearied. “I’m a nervous guy, I need to move - running is the way I shake stress out of my day.”