Chef Florence Dalia : the intrepid adventurer of Taipei
- 1 Michelin star chef in Taiwan
- More than 15 years experience of fine dining in Asia
- Modern French classics in Asia
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The intrepid adventurer returned to Taipei as Chef De Cuisine after 14 years in the region already.
After six years with chef Olivier Jean at its helm, one-MICHELIN-starred L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon Taipei welcomed its new chef de cuisine, Florence Dalia, in October last year.
Born in Burgundy, 42-year-old Florence Dalia started her culinary journey when she entered cooking school at the age of 16, training in top kitchens across England, France and Switzerland. She joined the Robuchon group in 2005, working at the two-MICHELIN-starred Joël Robuchon Monte-Carlo and then at three-MICHELIN-starred Joël Robuchon Hong Kong as its sous chef de cuisine. Subsequently, she left the group and furthered her career in Shanghai, where she served as chef de cuisine at top French restaurants such as Sofitel Shanghai Sheshan Oriental, Laris Shanghai and New Heights Shanghai for six years. The most memorable experience in Shanghai and her greatest challenge, she shares, was managing a team of over 40 chefs at New Heights. But it was there as well that she fell in love with the dynamism of Asia.
It was only natural for Florence Dalia then, to join Mandarin Oriental Taipei’s Cafe Un Deux Trois as its chef de cuisine, where she continued serving modern French classics in Asia. She worked at Hong Kong’s two-MICHELIN-starred Amber at Landmark Mandarin Oriental as sous chef to Richard Ekkebus for three years before finally returning to Taipei’s L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon.
“I wanted to return to the kitchen. I was sous chef at Amber and Cafe Un Deux Trois and if I wanted to return to the kitchen, it had to be the best kitchen, in terms of culinary fundamentals, such as the style of cuisine, the ingredients and sauces and the flavours presented in the plate. When L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon Taipei approached me to be their next chef de cuisine, I thought: ‘this is it’,” she recalls.
2019 marked the 10th Anniversary of L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon Taipei and in November, a group of top chefs from the Robuchon group, including Eric Bouchenoire, who heads research and development; Philippe Braun and Tomonori Danzaki, the group’s Chef Conseil; and François Benot, Chef Patissier Conseil from Joël Robuchon International France, teamed up for Robuchon Week in Taipei.
Having inherited the legendary chef’s legacy, Florence Dalia believes that the fundamentals of Robuchon’s creations lie in premium ingredients, adept techniques and the eternal pursuit of true flavours, rather than following the trend. “Diners will never get tired of classic flavours. There might be a time for adventure and novelties but there’s nothing like a well-executed classic French dish.” She says.
Before coming to Taipei, Florence Dalia decided to take a two-month break, returning to Burgundy to spend time with her family before embarking on an adventure across seven South-American countries. She took apprenticeships in famous restaurants in the region during her trip and experimented with local ingredients and techniques. “The schedule was tight, but it was great,” she shares. When asked about her favourite part of working in the kitchen, she replies: “There is no fixed routine, and new challenges await every day. Whether it is the ingredients or the techniques, there are always new things to learn.”
During her 14 years in Asia, Florence Dalia has accumulated a wealth of experience and has an outstanding portfolio, from working in top kitchens across Hong Kong, Shanghai and Taipei.