|Chef Darrell Oneill|
Interview with Chef Darrell Oneill, Executive Chef of Shangri-La Hotel Dubai
What do you do and how did you get into the industry?
I am the Executive Chef at the Shangri-La Hotel, Dubai. I started out as my mum’s apprentice by following her around the kitchen when she was cooking. I wasn’t a fussy eater as a child and I used to try everything, which helped! When I was 16 years old, I was offered a job as an apprentice chef at a seafood restaurant in Wollongong, Australia. Shortly after, I moved to Hayman Island for four years and the rest is history.
What's the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is that I get to travel all over the world with my family and we get to experience new cuisines, cultures and learn from their traditions.
What's your personal favourite meal in Hoi An?
Hoi An is my favourite restaurant within the hotel. The French-Vietnamese cuisine and the setting transports you back to Vietnam with every bite! My favourite dish would have be the Pho Beef Noodle Soup.
What's one of the craziest things you've seen behind the scenes?
The craziest thing that I have seen in my career was during a previous stint in Dubai. I cooked for an event of 10 000 people in the desert and we had only four days of around the clock preparation. We were running between the hotel, which was a one hour drive away from the site, to where all the preparation was being done and at the same time we were trying to set up in the desert. In the end we had everything ready to go with just five minutes to spare before all the guests arrived!
The perfect day off would be...
... spending quality family time with my wife, Lalita, and my daughter, Jade, having a family meal or BBQ in the backyard.
A day in the life of a chef is...
... about being on the floor with your team, checking the quality of the products and making sure the food is prepared correctly and to our standards. A chef is also constantly speaking to guests to see if they are enjoying the dining experience and of course taking in constructive feedback in order to improve the guest experience. As a chef, you will try your best to motivate and inspire your team by being innovative with menus and promotions.
What do you do for fun?
I have a custom Harley Davidson and I am part of a motorcycle club called Shaheen. We meet up to do rides to other Emirates. We also have family events and fundraise for different causes.
What's your view on the Dubai food scene?
The Dubai food scene is ever changing and fast paced. With Michelin Star chefs, to free-standing restaurants where young chefs go out on their own to make a name for themselves, Dubai has it all and it is a very exciting place to be!
What's in store for you in the upcoming months?
We have our Lobsterlicious and Butcher’s Block promotions at Dunes Café which are two very well-known theme nights in the market. I will be working on creating new concepts and dishes to continue the momentum. I will also be working on new menus for Shang Palace, our authentic Cantonese restaurant, as well as ikandy ultralounge, our popular outdoor, shisha lounge.
Check out some of the restaurants at Shangri-La Hotel Dubai via this link.