Philippe Ruiz, from Saint-Julien-en-Genevois, France, began his stint at the Biltmore Hotel in 1999. Few local chefs can match Ruiz's resumé of Michelin-star establishments, and fewer still possess his prodigious culinary talent. While most closely associated with the property's exalted Palme d'Or, Ruiz was recently named executive chef of all three hotel restaurants.
1. What is the greatest challenge of being executive chef of the hotel?
I try to hire good cooks and take the level a little bit higher. The biggest challenge is to take all of these cooks and chefs and keep them together — make sure they work well and everybody's happy.
Philippe Ruiz|Biltmore Hotel
2. How long is your typical workday?
Twelve, thirteen hours.
3. The Fontana restaurant at the Biltmore is going through changes. Is it still Mediterranean?
No, it's all Italian now. We hired a new chef, Mario Cania, who used to be chef at Il Gabbiano. He's great with pasta and knows his Italian food. We'll be coming out with a new menu, but we're keeping things quiet now while we work things out. We'll probably have an announcement in September.
4. You and others at the hotel are beginning to work on a Biltmore cookbook that will include recipes from visiting Michelin-star toques who have cooked there. Which of these chefs impressed you most?
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Jean-Pierre Jacob of Le Bateau Ivre in Courchevel. But we had a lot of great ones.
5. What if one of your kids [the older is six, the younger 21 months] decides to become a chef. Would you be happy?
Well, yes and no. It's hard work. If she wants to be a chef, fine; if she wants to do something else, that's fine too