Gregory ChristmantPastry Chef - MANDARIN ORIENTAL JUMEIRA - United Arab Emirates
CHOCOLATE SHOP SUCCESS STORY
1- Could you tell us about your professional career?
I started my apprenticeship at the age of 15 in a Michelin-starred establishment, where I discovered a whole new world that I fell in love with. Even at that age, I realized that my work would be a platform to express my very best, and make people happy. Over time, backed by a lot of practice and commitment, my passion for pastry was evermore reinforced by the amazing joy I felt during every step of the process. I’m the kind of person to focus on the best and forget all the rest. From the very first moment, I had set my professional goals.
After a few years of training, I went to work at La Bastide Saint Antoine, a 2-star restaurant in Grasse, France, where I continued to invest in my personal and professional development. Following that, I faced new challenges and new responsibilities at L’Oasis, another 2-star restaurant in Mandelieu-La Napoule, guided in my learning process by Chef François Raimbault. After a few years, I joined the iconic Hotel Martinez Palace located on the Croisette in Cannes, where I encountered a completely new perspective unlike anything I had experienced at other restaurants. Chef Fabrice Meynet was a fantastic mentor, and under his watchful eye, I moved closer to my dream of expanding my knowledge, skills, techniques, and methods.
A couple years later, I relocated to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, where I worked alongside Chef Fabrice at the Rocco Forte Hotel. My thirst for innovation and perfection, and this challenging experience led me to discover the immense world of hospitality with Royal Catering.
I contributed to large-scale corporate events for Formula 1 and Air Expo, as well as six outlets and 35 contractors, specializing in fine dining. I wanted to master everything that the world of pastry had to offer, and this hunger took me to Palazzo Versace Hotel in Dubai. All before ending up where I am today, at Mandarin Oriental Jumeira.
2- How did you end up specializing in chocolate?
I have always found chocolate fascinating. Nature inspires us to explore, to strive to understand, to build relationships, to create products… I’ve learned that the most important step is actually the journey. Every step in the process is the most important step.
Chocolate is all about relationships where you engage with all your senses and go back and look at what already exists to try to improve
on it with new techniques, new textures, and so on. It means that chefs all over the world can communicate with each other by mastering the art of chocolate, because we all speak the same “chocolate language”. There’s something magical about that.
3- To what do you owe the success of your store/restaurant?
The secret is simple: Never compromise on quality and you will make miracles.
I wanted to give people a glimpse of real “Patisserie à la Française”, where the quality of each ingredient equates to perfect textures, balance, flavors, and sweetness, and where innovation and creativity exceed every expectation. The Mandarin Oriental Cake Shop strives to improve the sustainable development of its operations and creates products inspired by a multitude of flavors, methods, and techniques. Decadently delicious cakes, chocolates, pastries and a range of vegan, gluten-free treats will have you craving more, each one gloriously different from the next.
4- What are your plans for the Mandarin Oriental Jumeira?
My vision for the store is clear. It is composed of sequenced goals and manageable steps that drive all our daily activities. Our focus is on maintaining high standards, creating to the best of our potential in the kitchen, and ensuring cross-functional management of quality, operations, engineering, and the supply chain. All of this, without forgetting to support new talent with professional development programs designed to improve skills, leadership capabilities, and productivity.
«Less excuses, more results. Less distraction, more focus. Less ‘me’, more ‘we’.» Robin Sharma