Chef Lijo George
Two years later, Chef Lijo moved with Alain Ducasse to Hong Kong, where he worked at the one-Michelin-star Spoon by Alain Ducasse, in the InterContinental Hong Kong, for 18 months, and then joined the pre-opening team for Rech by Alain Ducasse, when the restaurant transitioned from Spoon at the beginning of 2017.
Rech, which specialised in imported French seafood, won a Michelin star just nine months after opening. “That was a very special moment,” says Lijo.
The completion of the massive IconSiam development on the riverside at the Thonburi bank of Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River, looking across the water to the towers of the city centre, presented a fresh opportunity for the development of the Alain Ducasse Group, and Blue by Alain Ducasse opened in late 2019 with Lijo as executive sous chef in the pre-opening team and continuing through the grim period of the pandemic.
At Blue, Lijo is responsible for the smooth and efficient running of the kitchen as per the exacting Alain Ducasse standards, and works closely with the executive chef in developing and preparing the Contemporary French fine dining menus.
“We have 21 kitchen staff, including the pastry and bakery team, and I have responsibility for their management, training and assessments,” says Lijo. “Moving to Bangkok was a big challenge for me, and of course the pandemic has been an unprecedented challenge for everyone. But we were immensely motivated when we received our Michelin star in late 2020, and of course we all look forward to getting back to business as normal.”
Have you ever cooked for royalty, international celebrities or other high profile people?
Yes, royalty includes Sheikha Al-Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, sister of the Emir of Qatar, and Thailand’s Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn. Numerous celebrities and high profile guests have of course dined at the restaurants over the years.
If you hadn’t become a professional chef working for renowned restaurants what would you have been?
A farmer! I love the thought of growing something from the beginning, cultivating and caring for until it reaches its full potential, seeing the progress and working towards a quality product by working with Mother Nature.
Who is your greatest role model in cooking and why?
Romain Meder. He is French, and has worked for many years alongside Alain Ducasse. I cooked with him from 2013 to 2014. His dedication to his craft was all-inspiring, and it helped craft a vision for my future self.
Who or what inspired you to become a professional chef?
Of course, Chef Alain Ducasse. His philosophy inspired me in the beginning of my career. Put basically, he believes that nature is an inexhaustible source of inspiration: it is nature that dictates the rhythm of the kitchen, of the farmers, breeders and fishermen. Conscious of his responsibility to the preservation of natural resources, he works only with seasonal produce, produced naturally or fished durably.
What are the three mandatory qualifications of a great chef?
1. Attention to detail. 2.Team player. 3. Creativity.
What’s your best dish currently?
That's a difficult question to answer. I would say every dish I make gets better and better. The one that comes to mind at the moment is a dish made of scallops and black garlic.
What makes a dish outstanding?
Quality produce and focused flavours.