Defining Culinary Excellence: An Interview with Chef Ruchi Thammitage of Raffles Al Areen Palace Bahrain


We embark on a culinary journey with Ruchi Shueng-Li Thammitage, the Executive Chef of Raffles Al Areen Palace Bahrain, whose 17-year career spans Asia and the Middle East. Working alongside Michelin-starred chefs and leading culinary teams in luxury properties, he now brings his expertise to Bahrain. Join us as we dive into the art of creating special dining experiences with Chef Ruchi in this exclusive interview.

In your opinion, what makes a restaurant special?

A truly special restaurant combines several key elements that come together to create an exceptional dining experience. At the heart of it is the exceptional, unique cuisine made with high-quality ingredients that tantalise the palate. But it’s not just the food – attentive and knowledgeable service that makes guests feel welcome and valued is equally essential. The ambience also plays a crucial role in setting the right tone and mood through thoughtful design choices. Finally, it’s the unexpected, memorable touches that leave a lasting impression and make guests eager to return. The best restaurants seamlessly blend all these elements to craft an experience that goes beyond just serving food.

What are some of the upcoming projects you’ve planned at the hotel?

The hotel has an exciting slate of new projects in the pipeline that will further elevate the dining experiences on offer. These include the launch of the YCONE Paris pâtisserie by Chef Yazid, showcasing the finest in French-inspired pastries and confections. There are also plans to unveil a contemporary Moroccan restaurant, blending traditional flavours with a modern twist. The hotel is also set to launch a refreshed pool concept and has even partnered with a renowned restaurant group to bring a new pan-Asian dining destination to life. These diverse offerings will ensure there is something to delight every palate that visits Raffles Al Areen Palace Bahrain.

What are some personal favourite dishes you would recommend guests try at your restaurant?

When it comes to must-try dishes at the hotel’s restaurants, a few personal favourites immediately come to mind. The Kibbeh Mashwaya, a delectable fried bulgur and meat croquette, is a standout. The saffron risotto, with its luxurious texture and deep, complex flavours, is another highlight. The Samak Charmoula, a flavourful North African-inspired fish preparation, showcases the culinary team’s creativity and mastery of local cuisines. These dishes not only highlight the quality of the ingredients but also the skill and artistry of the chefs in bringing them to life.

How do you ensure your restaurants always meet the highest standards?

Maintaining the highest standards in the restaurant industry requires a multi-faceted, disciplined approach. It starts with an unwavering commitment to food safety and hygiene protocols, ensuring the utmost care is taken in handling and preparing ingredients. Equally important is the relentless focus on quality and consistency, both in the ingredients sourced and the meticulous execution of each dish. Building a team of extensively trained, knowledgeable staff who can deliver exemplary service is another key pillar. Proactively gathering customer feedback and using it to drive continuous improvement across all operations is also critical. Embracing this customer-centric mindset and continuously enhancing every aspect of the dining experience is what separates the good from the exceptional.

Tell us about your journey in the hospitality industry and how it led you to Raffles Al Areen Palace Bahrain.

My journey in the hospitality industry has been a dynamic and rewarding one, spanning over 17 years across diverse regions in Asia and the Middle East. Throughout my career, I have had the opportunity to hone my skills and expertise at renowned international properties, which has ultimately led me to my current role as the executive chef at Raffles Al Areen Palace Bahrain.

My culinary journey began in my home country of Sri Lanka, where I laid the foundations for my future success in the industry. Then I had the privilege of working alongside the esteemed Michelin-starred chefs in Dubai, Doha and Singapore. This invaluable experience under the tutelage of culinary masters played a crucial role in shaping my culinary vision and expertise.

Following this formative experience, my career trajectory gained momentum as I took on leadership positions across luxury establishments, including Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts, Genting Resorts and Raffles Hotels. Each of these roles allowed me to further hone my skills, develop a deep understanding of the hospitality industry, and cultivate a passion for redefining gastronomic experiences.

Now, as the executive chef at Raffles Al Areen Palace Bahrain, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to apply my extensive expertise and innovative approach to create unforgettable dining experiences for the guests of this esteemed all-villa luxury destination. I am dedicated to pushing the boundaries of traditional cuisine and redefining the culinary landscape within the Kingdom, drawing upon my wealth of knowledge and a relentless commitment to excellence.

What are some of your favourite places to eat in Bahrain?

My favourite places to eat in Bahrain are Palma at Raffles Al Areen Palace, Roka, Nomad, Muchachos and local street food restaurants.

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