Four Seasons Astir Palace Hotel Athens
- 40 Apollonos Street, Vouliagmeni, Athens, 16671, Greece
Michel Gunnar Eberhardt
Food and Beverage Director
Four Seasons Tenure
- Since 2016
- First Four Seasons Assignment: Assistant Director of Food and Beverage, Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru
- Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru; Dorado Beach, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve, Puerto Rico; Sharq Village & Spa, Doha, Qatar; Marriot International, Copenhagen, Denmark; Hotel Nimb, Copenhagen
- Stockholm, Sweden
- Bachelor of Science, Restaurant and Culinary Arts, Örebro University, Sweden
- Swedish, English, Danish
There are a lot of moving parts to the dining scene at Four Seasons Aster Palace Hotel, Athens, so Michel Gunnar Eberhardt keeps moving. “I like to get close to managers to know what their challenges and needs are, give them input and direction to push the menus forward, and make sure everything is covered to fully optimise the operation,” he says of his role as Food and Beverage Director of the seaside resort. “Supporting people and challenging them is the way to ensure they’ll deliver the quality Four Seasons guests expect.”
With eight outlets plus banqueting for more than 500 people, there’s always something on Eberhardt’s plate. He joined the Hotel in May 2021, not long after the seasonal reopening of the fine dining seafood restaurant Pelagos, with a new chef, a rule-breaking menu shaped by contemporary influences from around the world, and a dedication to local product. He’s keen on training, whether it’s delivered one-on-one, through formal programming, or on the fly. “So much can be accomplished with conversation before or after service,” he says. “Our managers have the experience, so it’s often more about honing their decision-making process.”
Eberhardt’s own management style is to deal with everyone in a patient and open way, and to always be willing to listen as well as learn. He is also careful about being sensitive to local culture, especially at a property like Astir Palace, where nearly everyone on the 300-plus-member F&B team is from Athens – distinctly different from the dozens of nationalities he has worked with on previous assignments.
“One thing I’ve always done through my career is to learn a certain amount of the local language and culture and use that knowledge as soon as I start working,” he says. “People always take to that: They appreciate it, and it helps us connect.”
Another thing Eberhardt quickly learned in Athens is how to source local product. The Hotel’s intent is to use as much as possible, the better to ensure top quality ingredients for the kitchen staff and give front-of-the-house staff good stories to share at the table.
Such as? “We get honey from a bee farmer just two kilometres away. We know him. We know his trees. And the honey is wonderful. We express as much of that as we can on the menus and at the table. It can really enrich a guest’s time with us.”
Eberhardt, who hails from Stockholm, Sweden, and got started cooking at home, had a “fantastic idea” that he wanted to become a chef. “It just came to me when I was 10.” He ended up going on to restaurant school where he discovered the kitchen wasn’t really for him. “It wasn’t as romantic as I’d hoped. I prefer the way I do it on my own.”
Meantime, Eberhardt discovered he had a talent for service and enjoyed it. As his skills grew so did his knowledge. Starting off at hotel bars in Copenhagen, Denmark, he hoped to find work in Asia, a region and culture that had always fascinated him, but job offers took him to destinations he’d never contemplated: Doha, Puerto Rico, and Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru, where he directed F&B for lots of moving parts including six restaurants and bars, a luxury liveaboard catamaran, and a private island where every detail – and every dish – was personalised to the guest.
“Every place I’ve ended up I never thought I’d be there, including Greece. It was always my dream to work for Four Seasons, though.”
While not managing food and beverage he likes to learn about it and things related to it. He used to be fascinated by wine; now he is taken with cigars, he says: “Not because of Aristotle’s either,” he says, referring to the cigar bar at Astir Palace, “but because they’re part of F&B. Learning the art of anything can be very attractive and interesting.”