Expat chefs in Romania: Ashlie Dias of Crowne Plaza

The kitchens of Bucharest’s restaurants harbor a number of internationally renowned foreign chefs. Romania-Insider.com talked to expat chefs about work, food and life in Romania’s capital – check this section as more will follow in the coming days.

Ashlie Dias, Executive Chef @ Crowne Plaza in Bucharest. The Indian chef previously worked with Carnival Cruise Lines, Miami, USA, as well as in New York, San Francisco, Honolulu and Lyon.

When did you first come to Romania, when did you move here? I first came to Romania in 2001 and I moved here in October 2009

What brought you here in the first place? My wife ( then my fiancee ) and now my little boy have kept me put.

What is your favorite place in Romania? On the other side of Busteni, when you climb over the Sphinx there is a monastery, that area is so beautiful.

Where else in Romania have you worked before your current position? I taught for a few months at the American Hospitality school in Brasov.

What is your favorite Romanian food? Mici

What is the one food you love to cook? Fish

How did you learn how to cook? I learned from my mum.

Tell us about an adaptation of a Romanian recipe (if you have any) Fish cooked in Vine leaves & Grilled on the Barbecue

What sort of recipes sell better in Romania, from your experience? Grilled Meats especially Pork and Beef , organic is picking up too.

To what extent do Romanians appreciate more uncommon recipes? Are they traditional or do they like to try new things? Very few Romanians are outgoing and like to try uncommon recipes, if it is on the menu the waiting on staff or myself have to sell it to them, to get them to try it. Romanians are traditional and they tend only to try things when they already know the product or, even more so, if someone has recommended it to them.

What is the largest number of people you ever cooked for? We used to cook daily for 4,600 people – breakfast, lunch, dinner and late night buffet; during the inaugurations or openings we have done lunch for approx 8,000 in NY.

What was the biggest kitchen ‘disaster’ in your career? How did you solve it? Fire is one of the biggest kitchen disasters and I encountered a massive fire that had begun in the kitchen and could have taken all 4,600 of us down plus a USD 600 million ship.

Who is your favorite Chef (in the world)? I guess all great chefs have some things in common (ie: passion and perseverance). I would like to work with Adrian Ferra, but my favorites are Gary Danko, who I worked with  in San Francisco, and Georges Blanc in Vonnas.

How many people currently work in your kitchen? Thirty two

What is the first thing you usually do in the kitchen at the beginning of the day? Check the contracts for the day, e-mail, and ask the staff to follow up on them.

What sort of food and recipes do you think people in Romania are most attracted to? The clientele that we cater too love sushi, seafood that is easily consumed ( without bones, shells, etc ) they love barbecues. Plus,  live cooking is another thing they love. A restaurant with an open theater kitchen would do well.

Where in Romania have you eaten the best Romanian food? A wild game restaurant in Poiana Brasov

Interview by Corina Saceanu, [email protected] 

(photo source: Crowne Plaza)