Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at Nile Plaza
- 1089 Corniche El Nil, 11519 Garden City, Cairo, Egypt
Four Seasons Tenure
- Since 2019
- First Four Seasons Assignment: Current
- The St. Regis Osaka; The Ritz-Carlton, Okinawa; The Ritz-Carlton, Shanghai, Pudong; The Ritz-Carlton, Beijing; Il Lido Restaurant & Lounge, Singapore; COVA Pasticceria-Confetteria, Singapore; BICE The Cannery, Singapore; Brunello Restaurant Baglioni Hotel, London; Teca Restaurant, London; Hotel Torre Maure, Milano Marittima, Italy; Grand Hotel Terme, Riolo Terme, Italy; Hotel Senio, Riolo Terme, Italy
- Imola, Italy
- Diploma, Istituto Professionale di Stato Per I Servizi Alberghieri E Della Ristorazione, Riolo Terme, Italy
- Italian, English
“I came up with a new pizza dough.” That’s Gianluca Visani recalling the first step of his current turn as Executive Chef of Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at Nile Plaza. Sizing up culinary offerings, contemplating new menu items, and adjusting and updating kitchen operations are always priorities for incoming chefs. Italians, he says, tend to begin with the basics. “We make a new pizza recipe, a new pasta, and a new tomato sauce. It’s our way of putting our own touch on things right from the start.”
As at every address he has cooked for over his long hotel culinary career, Visani takes inspiration from the recipes he grew up with, as so many Italian chefs do as well. His recipes came from his grandmother, who would always be cooking for 10 or 15 people and passed her passion along to him.
Visani brings many more inspirations to Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at Nile Plaza. He arrived in summer 2019, a good time to lead the launch of the Hotel’s new Mediterranean dining experience Bullona, a sleek, modern, river-fronted celebration of distinctive seafood flavours and a timely addition to Cairo’s booming nightlife scene.
There is plenty else on his plate, with nine restaurants and lounges through the property as well as the in-room dining operation. The Italian entry Bella and the Chinese cuisine at 8 restaurant are particularly popular with international travellers, he says, while Zitouni is a destination for the best of local fare. Visani keeps things lively for all palates at all venues, devising new concepts and dining experiences to keep locals coming back for more.
Visani brings impressive experience to all of the above, having cooked professionally in Italy and led multifaceted dining operations at international luxury hotels across Asia. He recalls mastering the arts of sweet and sour, steaming and stir-fry in China, and expanding his knowledge of seafood, beef, and zingy marinades in Japan.
He has opened a lot of operations, implemented new food trends, and worked with many different cultures along the way. The talent on the culinary team at Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at Nile Plaza is about 95% local, all of them masters of their craft. Visani starts each day walking through the kitchen shaking hands and getting to know his team more, this way he can always be there to spread support and encouragement.
Visani was raised on a farm in the countryside of Riolo Terme in the province of Ravenna, Italy, where he acquired a taste for good ingredients that helped him throughout his culinary journey. While he relies heavily on family recipes – “I still go back to my mother’s recipe book!” – he endeavours to make them more modern, particularly in presentation, to match today’s contemporary trend and appeal best to guests’ eyes.
Meantime, Visani likes to keep things simple, yet delicious, preferring to use only three or four ingredients per dish to ensure that their individual flavours shine through. He intends for that to be part of his contribution to the Egyptian culinary culture. “Guests need to understand right away what they’re eating,” he explains. “Beautiful presentations encourage them to venture further, and we have a lot to share.”
After a decade-and-a-half of travel from the UK to Singapore, China to Japan, Visani is thrilled to be in the sprawling capital of Egypt with his family in Italy not far across the sea. He likes to spend downtime with his wife and their beautiful black Labrador Retriever, named Blackie. “We take him out and run together: Cairo has a lot of history for us to explore,” he says. “It’s a very comfortable life away from the kitchen.”