Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel
- 9500 Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills, California, 90212, U.S.A.
“Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel has such a cosmopolitan feel, with many nationalities on the guest list. The cuisine presents fantastic opportunities for me to give them what they want.”
Four Seasons Tenure
- Since 2017
- First Four Seasons Assignment: Current
- St. Regis Aspen Resort; Al Ghurair Rayhaan and Al Ghurair Arjaan by Rotana, Dubai; Westin Prince Toronto; Hyatt Regency on King, Toronto; Easton’s Group of Hotels, Toronto; Sheraton Centre Toronto
- New Delhi, India
- Sheraton Management Institute, New Delhi
- Hindi, English
“One of these days, I’m going figure out which door opens to what part of this Hotel!” That was Samir Roonwal, with a hearty guffaw, shortly after his arrival as Executive Chef of Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel. All in good time, of course. Appointed in summer 2017, Samir had plenty else on his plate minding culinary operations of the world-famous address on Wilshire Boulevard at the foot of Rodeo Drive.
Samir immediately set out to transform the Hotel’s culinary concepts by drawing on experiences he has had in the kitchen and on the road over three decades in the industry. “If you are preparing, say, an octopus, how will you cook it?” he asks, illustratively. “You can’t just turn it into a Japanese or Lebanese dish by camouflaging it with something you’ve learned from a website.” Instead, Samir employs his own deep talent and knowledge to provide a dining experience all his own. “I use what I know to make things authentic.”
While the delight of his guests is paramount, Samirl also makes a priority of developing his team. “Everyone wants to know how things are done differently around the world. For me to be able to pass along what I know leaves them with a legacy of knowledge they can build on.”
He likes to keep the team on its toes, he says, working side-by-side, changing things daily, and questioning creative efforts. "At the end of the day,” he says, “I’m a cook. Very hands on. A little too much, sometimes, it’s my relentless pursuit for quality.” Communication is key, he concludes, “and not just about food or the job, but about life. I play the human card as well as the chef card. I want to leave with great friendships and an even greater legacy.”
Samir’s responsibilities include the Hotel’s signature dining experience THEBlvd – aka the living room of the Hotel – as well as The Pool Bar & Café, in-room dining and banqueting. At first, he emphasises revealing the true characters, intense flavours, and intricate diversity of ingredients from throughout the vast Mediterranean region. “The way to accomplish that is by being true to the product,” he explains.
Meanwhile, he is set upon enhancing the latter three in unexpected ways. For instance, he intends to move away from some of the more traditional hotel amenities to offer “creative culinary takeaways” that leave departing guests with great impressions of their stay. He is also heightening banqueting with restaurant-style offerings including but hardly limited to bread presentation. “Banquet bread doesn’t always have to be a dinner roll,” he says, noting the wide array of possible alternatives from every corner of the Mediterranean.
“Culinary was never supposed to have happened to me,” Roonwal recalls of his start in hospitality. Born in New Delhi, he had wanted to become an architect, following in the professional footsteps of a family whose ranks include engineers, doctors, and his father, a renowned geologist. But Roonwal quickly discovered cooking as a new art form. “Instead of playing with textures and colours like they do in architecture, in the kitchen you’re playing with textures and flavours.”
Following early apprenticeships in India through the management-training program of a luxury hotel group, Roonwal headed for Canada in search of new challenges. He eventually joined a domestic franchise company where as corporate chef he helped launch five properties in Toronto. He then moved onto other luxury addresses, most recently doubling as an executive chef and food and beverage director at properties in Dubai and Aspen.
He garnered a dedicated clientele along the way, many of whom he is now exposing to new tastes and flavours at Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel. “Los Angeles is truly a celebration of cuisine from all over the world. When guests dine at the Hotel, I hope to share with them an authentic taste of what’s out there.”
Samir recalls that he originally tried to get a job with Four Seasons when he first landed in Canada. “And now, 30 years later, here I am! It is very humbling.”