By Jim Boyce | You can take the bar and restaurant people out of Beijing but you can’t keep them from feeding and watering the world after they’re gone. Welcome to the second in a series of “where are they now” posts about former Beijingers still in the food and drink game. Part 3 is coming soon!
He gave us five full years of fun, first as food and beverage manager then as director of operations, at Hilton Beijing. going beyond the same, same old hotel events to regularly hold rodeos, pancake races, pole dancing competitions, singles auctions and Christmas train launches while maintaining the legacy of the longstanding annual wine fair. He even green-lighted giving away the presidential suite suite on this humble blogger’s sibling site. Pictured above lighting stuff on fire in Beijing. Now soaking up the sun as hotel manager at Hilton Waikoloa Village
Dan Segall |Pizza Express | Singapore
Another Hilton Beijing veteran, Segall jumped onto the city’s fo0d radar when he headed the kitchen at Louisana restaurant just over a decade ago. He had stints at venues such as Wangfujing’s RBL—Restaurant, Bar, Lounge—and, much later, at The Courtyard, now TRB Bites. Segall has an impressive list of stops on his resume, everywhere from Zuma in Hong Kong to M1NT in Shanghai, and was last spotted at Pizza Express in Singapore. (He once invited me to a house party and I figured a bunch of chefs getting together would mean some crazy good food. Yeah, I was naive. They ordered from Buona Pizza and Indian Kitchen, go-to comfort food, circa 2006.)
Known in Beijing as a merciless quiz master, creator of one of the best video applications for the “best job in the world” campaign in 2009, and manager of The Bookworm. He took some of the spirit of that place with him upon moving to Australia and opened cafe and wine bar Muse, complete with with more than 2000 books.
Amber Deetlefs | Alphen | Contantia
She blew people away with her menu at South African restaurant Pinotage: the downtown branch tickled taste buds with dishes such as biltong carpaccio, chicken liver parfait, venison Wellington, marrow roasted in bone and, one of my favorites, vertoek (deep-fried dough) with baked Camembert, thick bacon and peach chutney. Now she’s back in her home country and still working kitchen magic, most recently at Alphen Boutique Hotel in Constantia, just outside Capetown.
Nico Pellissier | O’Steak | Taipei
While many people in Beijing know him from Salud, a place where many a night has been spent knocking back infused rum shots, pounding draft beer and listening to music, he brings a good deal experience in the food and drink trade, including at several top-flight hotels. Now he is settled in Taipei and heading up that city’s operations for Beijing-based restaurant chain O’Steak.
Damien Alvarez | Daniel | New York City
He held positions in several high-flying venues in Beijing, including Le Pre Lenotre in the Sofitel Hotel and Maison Boulud in the Legation Quarter, the latter venue a regular candidate for restaurant of the year until it closed. Alvarez is now assistant general manager at another Boulud project, Daniel, in New York City. Unfortunately, I don’t have a photo of him, so I’ll go with this shot from the final round of drinks at Maison Boulud.
Few people have pushed the food envelope as far as Olabegoya has at Migas. From innovative high-value lunches to cutting-edge dinner menus to classes with high-profile visiting chefs, he continually pushed the scene to be better. During that time, he was also involved in projects in cities such as Hong Kong, Singapore and Phnom Penh. Now he lives in Taipei, where his work includes teaching a sous vide course at Gastrojoy Academy.
More “where are they know” posts coming soon. You can see part 1 here.