Chef Carlos Martín Repetto, of The Westin Doha Hotel & Spa, on early inspirations, excitement for his new role and future culinary directions.

What is your earliest kitchen or food memory and how did this shape your decision to pursue a career in the culinary field?
Well, it all started at home, cooking with both my grandmothers – one Italian, the other Basque. Every time I entered their houses, something delicious was being prepared, and they awakened my curiosity for food, ingredients and traditions. It was almost like a competition between them to see who could show me or teach me more.
After finishing high school, my father, like a good Italian father, was pushing me to study a traditional career, like medicine or engineering. Imagine when I told him I wanted to be a chef. At that time, being a chef seemed nothing like the glamour or a five star. Of course, he said no. We went back and forth for almost a year until one day, just to push him a bit, I said ‘OK, I will study medicine, but in the army,’ thinking he would say ‘no dear son, no need’. But it happened that my father had a good friend in the army and a week after that, I was in the army medical school!
Anyway, after all this finished, I finally started to study at the hotel business school of Buenos Aires for culinary arts and from my early days as a student and trainee, I understood that this would be the love of my life and remembered the passion of my two grandmothers teaching me all their secrets. It is with this passion still that I start every day.

Your last post was in Moscow. What attracted you to come to Qatar and what are your plans for dining at The Westin?
After 11 years in Moscow, I needed something new and different. I was interested in the Middle East and the rich culture here, but due to various circumstances, it never happened. Then, this time, as they say, all the planets aligned. On my first call with my GM, when he told me the offer was Qatar, I think I took two seconds to say yes.
Regarding the plans for Westin Doha, it’s first of all to maintain the level of culinary excellence the hotel already has and to refresh some ideas and concepts. One of these is Hunters, for which I have big plans, which you will hear about soon. Westin Doha has a rich reputation as one of the best culinary hotels and, because of that, expectations are very high. I’m sure all of this will make the position more interesting and challenging for me.

What do you feel are the most exciting culinary trends for 2024?
Trends are changing so fast, but I believe that better than following a trend, here at Westin Doha we need to create trends and watch how others follow us. For the coming years, I see these culinary trends:
Salts With History
While salt is one of the most common ingredients in cooking, expect to see a noticeable shift to unrefined salts (Black Hawaiian, Kala Namak, Persian Blue, Celtic Salt, Fleur de Sel) as consumers move away from table salt staples in search of something far more unique to add to their favourite dishes. Sourcing will also be a priority for many chefs, working with global producers to identify salts from around the world and understand their history and uses.
Multisensory Dining
According to different experts, consumers will continue to look for culinary experiences that take them beyond taste and texture and provide a holistic experience filled with more extravagance and novelty.
Emphasis on Locally Sourced Ingredients and Sustainability
I do think more attention will be given to venues that incorporate local ingredients and highlight the cultural surroundings. We need to have a compromise with our planet and the ecology to be more local in all we can and be more creative and curious to work with local and regional producers.

What is your signature dish, how was it developed and what makes it popular?
Working for so many years as a chef I believe I have much more than one dish that identifies me, particularly relative to the Argentinian meats. But I can say, one of the dishes I most enjoy to prepare and eat is my Patagonian Prawns Ceviche, which is coming soon to Hunters. ✤