Aminath Hameed works as Commis One Pastry Chef at Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi. She also runs a page on Instagram called maldivian.pattisier. We recently had a brief chat over the phone about her career as well as the inspirations behind her work. Read on to find out more.
Lonumedhu: Let’s start the interview by talking about your current job at Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi. What are your main tasks and responsibilities?
Aminath: I am currently working as a chocolatier. My tasks include making homemade chocolates with various flavour combinations and chocolate percentages for the different outlets on the island. We actually do 20 varieties of chocolate. Apart from that I work with pastries in the dessert section too.
Lonumedhu: What’s it like working in the kitchen of a top tier resort?
Aminath: On average I’d be spending around 10 hours per day in the kitchen. And the festive season sort of begins with Halloween and then I’d be working even more than that. But I do love my job so I’ve never felt like it was a burden. I’ve always found it rather exciting.
Lonumedhu: Did you always plan to work in F&B? Was this something you dreamed of as a child?
Aminath: No. My childhood dream was to become an accountant. So when I did my A levels in 2009 that was what I did. For a while I worked at Alia Investments and I even enrolled for a course at the Clique College. However, I soon discovered that my heart wasn’t really in it.
Lonumedhu: I see. So how did you go from accounting to pastries?
Aminath: I liked baking and I was baking at home for friends and family and even did a cake decorating course from the FS Institute. Then I got the opportunity to do a live baking show for EVO home in 2014. I wore a chef’s uniform for the event and that was the first time I wore one. Wearing the uniform made me feel so good; I felt like I had finally found where I belonged and it occurred to me that this was what I wanted to do.
Lonumedhu: What sort of trainings have you done?
Aminath: I did a culinary diploma course from Win-Stone in Sri Lanka. While in Sri Lanka I was frequenting a French patisserie and the food there was so good that I eventually asked to meet the owner. And that’s how I met Chef Jean Pierre who trained me and taught me the basics of French pastry. In 2014 I worked at the patisserie for 6 months while studying under his wing. And the following two years I did short courses from Australia, Thailand and South Korea. Also, I love to travel and I always take cooking classes from everywhere I go so that I can learn about those different cuisines.
Lonumedhu: And how did you get into working at resorts?
Aminath: I joined Conrad Maldives Rangali Island as a pastry intern in 2016. I had actually applied for jobs at 20 plus resorts and had no luck, so when I came across the opportunity to work as an intern I thought I’d give it a shot. Just 6 months after joining as an intern I was offered a permanent position. And after two years I started working at Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi.
Lonumedhu: Apart from working at the resort, you’ve been running a page on Instagram too. You’ve been taking orders and even doing classes. How do you manage that?
Aminath: The resort had to temporarily close down due to Covid 19 and I moved back home to Addu. Since I had time, I started taking orders. Then people wanted to learn so I did classes too; there were 50 students in total. The resort is actually reopening soon and I am getting ready to get back to work now.
Lonumedhu: We can see some exciting flavour combinations on your page. Like the murangafaiy (moringa leaf) and cherry tart and the kanamadhu (sea almond) and gabulhi (young coconut) tart. How did you come up with these?
Aminath: At Waldorf Astoria we regularly have a Maldivian buffet night and there’s a misunderstanding that Maldives does not have desserts. I’ve always maintained that there are plenty and that has made me want to promote Maldivian desserts as well as come up with modern desserts with Maldivian flavours. The kanamadhu gabulhi tart sprang from my love for huni hakuru (a pastry with a sweet coconut filling). Huni hakuru is made with gabulhi and I wanted to see what else I could make with it. As for the murangafaiy and cherry tart, we have a moringa tree here at home and I dried some moringa leaves and thought the resulting flavour was very similar to green tea. So I thought I’d combine it with another flavour and cherry happened to be that flavour.
Lonumedhu: Do you have a favourite ingredient?
Aminath: Chocolate, I think that’s always going to be the ultimate ingredient for me.
Lonumedhu: We’ve reached the end of the interview. So let’s wrap it up by talking about your food heroes.
Aminath: Whenever I am working Chef Jean Pierre is always on my mind; the basics he taught me; he’s such an inspiration. Vinesh Johny on Instagram, I find his work inspiring. And Saurabh Shahi, Executive Pastry Chef at Waldorf Astoria Ithaafushi, he inspires me daily. He gives me the freedom, space and time to be creative. He’s always encouraging me to come up with new ideas.
Lonumedhu: Thanks so much for having this chat with us Aminath. We wish you all the best on your future culinary adventures.