Interview with Chef Yann Chupin, New Executive Chef
The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota
Chef Yann Chupin is the new Executive Chef at The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota, and has been in the hospitality industry for over 25 years, working in the kitchens of hotels, resorts and restaurants.
He served as private chef for the French Minister of Defense in Paris. Prior to his arrival in Sarasota, he was the resort Executive Chef at The Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation, with previous work at The Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City and The Ritz-Carlton, Philadelphia. His talents have been honed from his culinary efforts in Pennsylvania, Paris, Boston, and the Turks & Caicos, acquiring an international flavor and perspective on culinary trends in travel. Among his many accreditations and accolades, Chef Chupin was the winner of the Manager of the Year Award by the Georgia Hotel & Lodging Association in 2012. He graduated from La Roseray Culinary Institute in Angers, France. Recently Chef was inducted into Les Maitres Cuisiniers de France.
When asked who or what experiences encouraged his culinary pursuits, he referenced his apprenticeship work as being critical to his career. Mentored by Jean-Francois Piers he felt attributed to his successes from the very beginning.
Cooking in a fine dining, two-star Michelin restaurant was a formative experience for Chef Chupin. He highlighted his prior work for the Defense Minister of France and preparing for the many diplomatic dinners and other high-level government officials. While at the Ritz-Carlton in PentagonCity, certain events were for diplomats – complete with a SWAT team with dogs in the kitchen looking at hot boxes. His sense of composure is validated when he spoke of a banquet event for 200 people, “everything was going well – until the elevator went out and half of the food was stuck in the elevator in between two floors, so we got engineering involved quickly and literally served the food between two floors to the tables.” At another event while at Reynolds, the hotel was hosting the company’s Key Account (consisting of the top 150 global Ritz-Carlton customers coming to one location for three days). Professional challenges were managed with aplomb to accommodate the 3-day event.
Opportunities await prospective students interested in pursuing a culinary career. Chef said he is interested in promoting various cooking techniques, in particular sous vide – it’s a high-profile technique which you need to embrace, understand and have experience with. Banqueting has changed with new oven technology and changes the way banquets are done. In current use chefs have access to gigantic ovens that fit 100 plates, enabling the cooks to finish cooking on the plate. This allows more time for plating, decoration and, in the end, a better product.
Trending visionaries, like Chef Chupin, tend to look towards delivering nouvelle cuisine, while embracing certain aspects of the current trend within the farm-to-table process. He expressed interest in incorporating new and different techniques, such as sous vide, and mixing the new with the traditional techniques to combine and maximize flavors to make dishes even better. As the Executive Chef at the Ritz-Carlton Sarasota, he will be overseeing all menu and culinary production and looks to bringing in some of the BBQ elements into banquet fare, as well as create pop-up events to draw a new audience.
When asked what advice Chef would impart to culinary students currently on internships and to encourage them to prepare for their future roles as chefs de cuisine, he offered an anecdotal moment which occurred while at Reynolds. Due in part to the geographically isolated location of the Reynolds property, he said it was difficult to find qualified staff. He received a resume from a woman who had never been in culinary school and was a Realtor. She wanted to change her career. Chef reflected on the candidate’s points of interest and, while he said that most chefs would probably have thrown her resume in the trash, he decided to talk to her, asking why she wanted to change careers, and that she would (in this scenario) start at the bottom. With his listening and observation skills at the helm, he found her to be very motivated and subsequently decided to hire her for a very entry-level position. Her passion for working with food and her commitment to remain in the kitchen until late hours brought her to an impressive role and became the highest level cook at Reynolds – all within three years. Passion and drive can propel you to be a success. She took in everything she could from the sous chefs and everyone around her and became a great cook. In Chef’s words, “I was inspired and proud of her and I hope to have the same experience with other young aspiring chefs.”
An article in The National Culinary Review (July/August 2011) “Spoonfuls of Value” highlights some of Chef’s special ingredients he uses to compose his signature sauces. (See Reference Source Below)
And, finally, my favorite question I like to ask other chefs: If you were to be invited to create a State Dinner, say for The White House (symbolic for the purposes of this interview only, as a remarkable place which serves as host to remarkable and influential people from around the world), what would your menu be? Chef offered his recommendation would certainly be prepared based on the region and the time of the year to incorporate seasonal and local farmers into the menu offering.
Wild mushroom ragout served in Yukon gold potato cup
House-made smoked King Salmon mouse served in an egg shell with Caviar
Lentil soup shooter with seared foie gras
A Champagne Rose would have to be part of the meal, with the hors d’oeuvres or with dessert
(Pink Champagne from Laurent Perrier is a nice preference)
Halibut wrapped in brick leaf with a Beurre Blanc (to be true to my origin)
Chocolate mousse cake with honey ice cream