Austen Reid is an asset for Le Meridien. He has transformed the dining experience at Le Meridien, making its Latest Recipe one of the most sought after restaurants in the country.
As I browsed through the Internet, running through some last minute background info on Austen Douglas Reid, I came across some food bloggers raving about his Tuna Nicoise. Now, mind you, I am not a fan of seafood, but details about the dish rattled my taste buds.
“There’s no harm in trying out a tad bit,” I tried convincing myself.
You might say that it was sheer imagination from the food-bloggers’ end to have been able to describe his dish with such finesse; I on the other hand, believe that true talent lies with the chef to have been able to prepare the dish with brilliance. Had he not done so, his concoction would not be glorified to the extent it was.
Walking through the kitchen towards Austen’s office, one thing I took particular note of was hygiene.
It is not easy to manage a kitchen as mammoth as Le Meridien’s, that too with such a big and diverse team of chefs, yet Austen has left no stone unturned in maintaining cleanliness.
His efforts are praiseworthy for his team is disciplined and his kitchen is heaven for people who obsess over cleanliness.
Chef Austen reaches out his hands enthusiastically upon meeting me, and right away, begins to converse with me in his soft Scottish tone, as though I have known him for years. Early on, I got a hint of his sense of humour as it allows people around him to ease in and feel at home.
“While I was in high school, I worked during the weekends at my uncle’s restaurant,” recalled Austen.
“At a very early age of 15, I got a good idea of working in the industry; it demands a lot of sacrifices, a lot of long hours,” he further added.
Austen studied Hospitality Management in college, before joining various establishments, and it was not until 2004 that he moved to Burj Al Arab, in Dubai, to work as a junior sous chef.
During his four-year tenure at Oman’s InterContinental Hotel, he was first promoted to the ranks of executive chef. His cooking journey has seen him travel across the globe, spending a big chunk of his life in the Middle East.
The very experienced chef took over Le Meridien’s kitchen January last year, puts in long hours behind the counter, working tirelessly week in week out, pushing his creativity to the limit every time — in pursuit of doing himself one better.
He hardly ever rests, but when he does, it is mostly during his time stuck in traffic, when he utilises it to catch up with friends and family, or pamper himself to a podcast.
His time in Le Meridien has seen Latest Recipe pay particular attention to theme nights. His skills and knowledge have brought immense diversity and creativity in the Mediterranean, Mexican and Asian Nights.
To add a punch of excitement to the ‘food-ing’ experience in Le Meridien, The Great British Food Festival has allowed Austen Reid to help us enjoy and celebrate British culture through his beautifully curated array of delicacies.
“This has been an educational week for me. I have taken this opportunity to engage with our customers and give them an insight on the food we are serving. This has allowed them to enjoy a 360-degree experience in dining with us,” said Austen.
Photo courtesy: Le Meridien Dhaka