Francois Xavier Simon, 28
Chef de cuisine at Reflets par Pierre Gagnaire, InterContinental Dubai Festival City
CV so far: I did my schooling in Belgium in 2004. I later went to Paris to explore and work for Chef Philippe Legendre at George V, Four Seasons Paris, where I worked for three years. I started in service and continued in the kitchen, and then I moved to work for Chef Joël Robuchon in Paris for a year and a half. In 2008, I moved to Italy for two years to work under Chef Anthony Genovese in Rome. In 2010, I finally moved to Dubai to work for Chef Pierre Gagnaire at Reflets par Pierre Gagnaire.
Who are your culinary idols?
Chef Pierre Gagnaire of course, due to his simplicity and positive approach towards cooking. He holds great passion in what is placed on the plate and I feel inspired working with him.
What would you say is your signature dish?
Working in Reflets you cannot make one dish as your signature, as the menu changes with the season.
Describe your style of cooking in three words
Artful and tasteful.
How are you approaching the Young Chef competition?
Every competition comes with some excitement and anxiety. I’m preparing myself to do my best and I’m sure the chef who wins will have done his best as well.
What would be your perfect last meal?
It would have to be a meal that my grandmother made, and that I shared with my family.
Not counting your own restaurant/hotel, where is your favourite place to eat in Dubai?
I like to go to Thai Kitchen at the Park Hyatt Dubai in Deira.