Thomas Jakobi, Executive Chef at Waldorf Astoria Doha, West Bay, tells how culinary ambition has always been part of his life.

What is your first kitchen memory and how did this shape your choice of career?
As long as I can remember gastronomy and the passion for it have been part of my life.
I grew up surrounded by family members who pursued these dreams. So, I guess there is not this one special moment in the kitchen that sparked but the everyday passion for it which I was surrounded by.

You’ve described your overall cooking philosophy and style as ‘Quintessence’. What does this mean?
Quintessence is mindful eating and eating in tune with nature. It is an experience that touches all senses. The essence of tradition, knowledge and cultural influences. Breaking it down to the focus of each product. On each dish there will be one product as the star. I then add flavour that enhances the main product, breaking it down to the soul/essence of each dish. This is how I would describe my overall cooking style.

How are you bringing the Waldorf-Astoria New York’s rich heritage to Doha?
Waldorf-Astoria New York has long been known as one of the world’s most grand hotels, where tradition meets the pulse of time. The restaurants have always been ahead of their time. One would think such a grand hotel would only serve classic traditional cuisine. However, in this they would be mistaken. The Waldorf-Astoria New York’s dining outlets have been innovative in introducing new products to the market. That is exactly what we are going to do here.

What is the secret of your signature dish, Bass in the Bag, that sets it apart?
Bass in the bag is a dish that I still remember from when I was small. Something I learned during my early years. It’s quite a classic cooking technique, which has kind of been forgotten throughout the culinary scene as everyone is using more modern techniques. I thought I should bring back the classic technique as it enhances the flavour of the fish, setting it in focus, as I love doing – transforming this classic dish it into a contemporary one. ✤