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    Chefs speak
    David Codney

An exclusive interview, in Peru , with David Codney, sous chef at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, Naples , Florida , who came to hire Peruvian cooks.
15 young peruvian cooks are travelling with the Training programs of Universal Student Exchange - USE, to work at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, Naples , Florida

When you hire cooks for the Ritz Carlton , what criteria is required to be part of the team? Emily Duncan, Employment specialist, answers:

It's true, when you get out of school you usually are in a cook role and the chef is something you work up for. Everybody is trying to achieve the same goal they are all chefs in their heart and what we are looking for is that they have that passion. Cooking is a demanding career and if you don't have that fire and the drive it is not a career where you will be successful at, specially when you are cooking in a large hotel in a large operation.

It's a very stressful job?
It just depends on how, everybody usually finds their niche. It's a demanding job and it can be stressful and there's deadlines to meet.Are there specific traits you look for, that are essential,

they should be confident people? Confidence is a big part of it, the job is not easy to begin with, Confidence but humble, it's not confidence and cocky, I think a a good handshake goes far, if you meet a builder and his handshake is very soft, you don't think he's ok. It's going to be tough. Since you are here in Peru planning to hire Peruvian cooks, are you going to introduce at the Ritz Carlton 's menu some Peruvian recipes? We take from everyone that works with us, bits and pieces from everything, it they're from China we take from them.

Our menus are very diverse and our diverse clientele that comes with us is diverse also. The best part of our kitchen is that you learn from everybody, you learn different cultures and techniques from our cooks. When you came to Peru ...Peruvian people are very proud of their food, it's all about their food. Certain countries are very proud of certain things.

Ceviches, we don't have the same peppers, we don't have the same lemon, they are totally different and that's the best part of it is “mucho” more different. Do you think American people are willing to try this food, for example a big buffet of ceviches? Everything starts in the States, and then.... all of a sudden, the right person does it at the right place and there's the boom and it's all over. I think the ceviche thing is going to start going up.

Americans tend to group all together, Americans see Peru as a region. They are starting to see Brazilian cuisine, Colombian cuisine, Mexico is getting away as one country. Sushi is a one thing that started very slow and then it rocketed up. We need the peppers up there!

What is your favourite style of cooking and what about the style that most appeals to you?
It's so hard to define one thing, I don't think I have the one calling. I have so many things I love from different places.
This month I love BBQ, next month I like Polish food the month after I'm loving Provence . So I don't know if I have really have a niche.

What is your signature dish or your favourite recipe?
We have a lot of restaurants in our property, there are 9 restaurants. The best is a sweetbreads dish, we also have pancetta, fava beans with corn in it; it's a blow away,people love it.

You are in charge of all the restaurants?
There's an executive chef in our property, I am his number 2, his assistant.


What got you interested in a career in the restaurant industry?
It was the first place I really found like a passion, I had a lot of likes growing up and I had a lot of things that I wanted to do but I think cooking was the first place that truly was a passion that you wake up and I think it was the first area I really excelled well in.

Did you do much cooking before in your life?
Yeah, with family, it's always friends, always grandmothers and mother. Everyone has the same story, everybody the same thing.

So you studied where...?
At CIA which is the Culinary Institute of America of New York .

What was the most important lesson you received from your experience there?
I think that school has a very good reputation, but I think the lesson that I learned from that school, the most important, is that school is school, it doesn´t define you, it doesn´t define what you do, it doesn't define who you are, You can't rest your hat on that and say that's who I am. So that was an important thing for me to understand. It´s a part of me but it's not me at all, and that was the biggest piece to it. t o always learn, to always grow,   to keep taking pieces from places and expand on what you got.

 What did you cook with your grandmother, your mother?
My grandmother used to make Spaetzels all the time. She used to do Petitsa bread, it's a Polish nut roll like a strudel. You roll it up like a strudel with a strudel dough. Its really wet dough, it stretches very easy, you roll it up very thin and you use the tablecloth with flour to help you roll because it gets so thin and afterwards you get layers and layers and layers, like a spinwheel, layers and layers and you roll it up with sugar and cinnamon and these nuts that you get in Poland.

Can you buy this dough?
No, you make it.

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