1on1: Shangri-La Dubai’s Chef Deivid Paiva

Hailing from Portugal, Chef Deivid Paiva has over ten years of culinary experience in hotels worldwide. Prior to joining Shangri-La Dubai in February 2018, Chef Deivid was the Executive Sous Chef at China World Summit Wing in Beijing where he originally joined as Chef de Cuisine at the steakhouse, Grill 79. He has also held roles with Shangri-La Hotel, Doha, Jumeirah, Hilton and Chapter One, the Michelin Star restaurant located in Dublin, Ireland.
Chef Deivid is a dedicated leader with creativity and a keen eye for detail.
What makes you so passionate about being a Chef?
It takes a really determined and persevering person to survive working in such high-pressured environments. Every day presents a new challenge and we want to give our best and send out the perfect plate of food to our guests. This job might not be for everyone, but it is what I love doing. When I see my guests delighted with our dishes and making memorable moments, it truly makes me really happy. This is what keeps my passion for cooking and hospitality going each and every day.
What is your specialty? Your signature dish?
I get asked this question a lot and it is really very difficult to answer since, as a Chef, we try to create dishes every day and change our menus regularly to keep our guests interested and excited about our restaurants.
So to answer the question, my specialty would be European cuisine because I was classically trained by European chefs and I have been cooking this cuisine for the majority of my professional career.
The latest signature dish that I created was when I was the Chef de Cuisine at the award-winning Grill 79 Restaurant at China World Summit Wing, Beijing. The dish was Duo de Beef. I created this dish to show the versatility and the countless possibilities a chef can do with beef and the different cuts.
I personally love beef because it is very versatile. Beef offers me a lot of possibilities and I can really get creative in making my dishes when I work with beef. When I conceptualize a new menu, I try to use the different parts of the meat to limit wastage and maximize on different tastes. It also shows the respect that I have for each ingredient that I use. In the dish Duo de Beef, I showcase two different cuts of beef, with two unique textures and two different cooking methods. Wagyu beef cheeks are slowly cooked until meltingly tender and a medallion of beef tenderloin is cooked on the grill to perfection. It is accompanied by a puree of sweet carrots, smoked potatoes, and the jus of the beef which have been infused with herbs de Provence.
Where do you get inspiration from?
Working in a restaurant entails tremendous hard work and perseverance. As a chef, we never stop learning. There are always new ingredients and modern techniques that are being discovered every day that would make cooking more versatile, efficient and consistent. One great advantage of Dubai is its ability to import a lot of different products from all over the world in such a short time which creates a lot of possibilities for us chefs. The variety and diversity of ingredients and products available for us in Dubai is incredible. This gets my “creative juices” flowing into creating culinary masterpieces for the restaurants and the hotel.
What and who inspired you to pursue Culinary Arts?
I have been cooking professionally for 10 years now and it has been an amazing experience so far. Growing up in Portugal and Brazil, I have been always surrounded by rich food and ingredients. At home, my grandmother would always cook for the family and prepare feasts from the region during weekends. This, for me, is my first hand experience with food and cooking. I grew up in a family who loves cooking and really appreciates good food. So it was not a surprise that I ended up choosing this career as a chef.
What makes the Shangri-La F&B experience special?
In Shangri-La, we have this “credo” that we adopted a few years ago that really captures the true essence of our service in the hotel: “To embrace a stranger as one’s own”. It literally means that all our guests are considered family to us. This is what makes our F&B experience special. All the guests that dine with us are treated as if they are guests in our houses. With a strong Asian heritage and the culture embedded in our service standards, we treat our guests with the utmost hospitality and comfort.
What is your favorite food from the Shangri-La menu?
I love everything that we offer here at the hotel. We strive to cater to even the most discerning palates. I find that the mix of food and beverage concepts that we have at the hotel are very diverse and gives me different cuisine options to choose from. At the moment, I find that our signature Chinese restaurant, Shang Palace, offers really exceptional Cantonese cuisine and our Vietnamese restaurant, Hoi An, produces some of the most refreshing dishes I have ever tasted.
What is the kitchen like here in Shangri-La Dubai?
It is not my first time working in the Middle East and I really admire the Dubai property. This property is an established hotel in the city and it continually reinvents itself and embraces innovation to produce a better product year on year – both for the guests and our colleagues. The hotel invests in procuring additional equipment and changing our old tools for better efficiency and effectivity in the performance of our duties and responsibilities. I am pleased to know that we use high quality equipment and tools in the kitchen of the hotel to always produce the highest quality dishes that our guests expect from us.
What is your F&B team composed of?
Getting to know my team, both in the culinary department and the food and beverage department, is really important to me. I want to know each person I work with so that we can all perform our duties and responsibilities more efficiently and effectively and deliver a memorable experience to our guests. For the past month working with my team, I can say that I am very pleased with their work ethic and professionalism. They are a diverse group of people with different personalities but we use it to our advantage because they bring more fresh ideas to the table. All of them are really determined to strive for excellence in this industry.
A message to all the aspiring chefs out there
I know I mentioned that working in the kitchen is really tough and entails a lot of hard work, but it is equally rewarding.
I love being a chef and it really makes me happy to serve my guests and see them delighted with the dishes that I present to them. This is a truly heart-warming experience for me, each and every time. If you have the passion, the drive and determination to become a chef – go for it! It is not an easy road to walk and you will experience pressure and hardships along the way, but do not give up. This will make you a better and stronger chef in the future, just continue to push yourself to be the best in what you are doing and everything will fall into place in the end. One additional thing that is important in a young Chef’s career is finding a mentor to guide you and help you grow.