Four Seasons Hotel Riyadh at Kingdom Centre
- Kingdom Centre, P.O. Box 231000, Riyadh, 11321, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Four Seasons Tenure
- Since 2006
- First Four Seasons Position: Sous Chef, Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru
- Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at Nile Plaza; Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay; Four Seasons Hotel Guangzhou; Four Seasons Hotel Singapore; Four Seasons Resort Mauritius at Anahita; Four Seasons Hotel Amman; Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru; La Cantinaccia, Brescia, Italy; La Pina, Brescia; La Piazzetta, Brescia; Taverna Toscana, Prague; Chez-Chef, Cologne, Germany; Taku, Cologne; Via Bene, Cologne; Al Pino, Munich; Hotel Adlon Kempinski, Berlin; Al Pino, Munich; President Hotel, Roncadelle, Italy; Military Service, Special Dive Corps, Navy; After Dinner, Brescia; Las Palmeras, Tenerife, Canary Island; Le Grotte, Madonna di Campiglio, Italy; San Domenico, New York
- Brescia, Italy
- Degree of Maturity, Caterina de Medici, Desenzano del Garda, Italy; Chef Degree, Caterina de Medici, Gardone Riviera, Italy
- English, French, German, Italian, Spanish
“My main focus is for this Hotel to be the best in the city,” says Stefano Andreoli, succinctly, of his role as Executive Chef of Four Seasons Hotel Riyadh at Kingdom Centre. Considering his previous successes opening three Four Seasons addresses across Asia over five years, how hard could that be? “Very challenging, actually,” he continues. “Middle Easterners don’t ask. They always tell: ‘I want.’ They really know what good food is and what ‘5-star’ means.”
Andreoli’s strategy for satisfying five-star desires in Riyadh is straightforward: “The best product, the best service, and the best design.” The Hotel, he notes, has four dining options with various types of cuisine between them. “That’s a 360-degree angle for the chef to do what he wants.” And do it Andreoli does, focusing on authenticity – “there is no fusion in my mind, and I’m no fan of molecular gastronomy” – and originality – “customers come to Four Seasons for an experience; otherwise, we are no different from anywhere else.”
The keys, for Andreoli, are first getting product and then giving it the respect it deserves. “We keep things natural, creating healthy dishes that maintain the colour, flavour and nutrients of the ingredients.” He keeps things simple, too: “The mouth won’t recognise more than three ingredients at once. Add more and you risk confusion.”
That maxim came from madre, whom Andreoli, the youngest of four, watched in the kitchen while he was growing in northern Italy. He says he can remember every item his mother cooked, the passion and love she put into the process, and the way she used only products that were in the market at the time.
By the age of 13, he knew what he wanted to do, but his decision didn’t go over well. His father was an architect who had wanted to be a doctor. “I always thought he was never very happy because he wasn’t doing what he wanted,” Andreoli remembers. “When I told him I wanted to be a chef, he said, ‘If you want to do that, not in my house,’ and out I went.”
No problem. Following culinary school in Italy, his career has taken him far and wide. Very wide: Andreoli has had 29 different employers in 12 countries over the years. “My job is all about experience. I’m never able to say I know everything, and I like a challenge. There is natural cycle to every place you work, and I try not to get too comfortable.”
He joined Four Seasons as opening Sous Chef in the Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru in 2006, jumped to opening Senior Sous Chef in Mauritius two years later, landed in Singapore as Senior Sous Chef in 2009, and then became opening Executive Sous Chef in Guangzhou, China, in 2011, fashioning kitchen operations for five restaurants, two bars and in-room dining.
Andreoli’s run in Guangzhou was particularly charmed, with glowing media coverage and an appearance on the Chinese version of Iron Chef. “I’m very, very patient in terms of anything,” he told an interviewer before the start of the competition. “If I do something, I do it 100 percent. There is no compromise.”
The same holds true in his current position, of course. Andreoli is partial to a multicultural team in the kitchen, the better to bring together the strengths of different experiences. He finds no benefit in micromanagement, he says: “I’m about letting people express themselves. If I provide the right environment and the best ingredients, I know I’ll get the best out of them.”
It’s a recipe for success that has worked for Andreoli in Four Seasons across Asia - and it is working again in Riyadh.