An interview with John Bakker

17 April 2017

Born to be a world class chef, John Bakker is a talented member of an industry that keeps on developing every day. Our interview with John, provided an inside view into the culinary standards at Gili Lankanfushi, and the long and careful evaluation they make in every single decision they take in the kitchen. Chef John Bakker leads the amazing kitchens of Gili Lankanfushi, Maldives which has often been praised for its high standards and the miracles of gastronomy they produce on an everyday basis.

 Q- John, when did you first know you wanted to be a chef? 
Cooking has always been of a keen interest for me, but knowing that I wanted to be a chef only came much later in life.  Introduction to chef life began when I was in high school with a part time job working evenings and weekends in hospital kitchen as a steward/cleaner.  That was the first time I ever encountered any professional cooks, and thought it looked like a lot of fun so I decided to give it a try.

Can you tell us about your culinary background and what brought you to the Gili Lankanfushi Maldives?
As a Dutch Canadian with dual nationality, I left Canada for Europe to pursue a career as a Chef in 1995.  Since then, I have had the pleasure of working in multiple high profile hotels and Michelin star restaurants across 17 different countries. 

For me, the attraction to Gili Lankanfushi was the existing international reputation for food and with my experience and knowledge, I saw an opportunity to bring things to the next level

What does your resort offer to its visitors in terms of gastronomy? 
The dining experience at Gili Lankanfushi is like no other, we take guests on a gastronomic journey in Gili style with a combination of organic, island grown vegetables and the finest seasonal produce.  

We bring Maldivian cuisine to live by blending flavors of modern European culinary artistry with the natural flavors of the Indian Ocean. The subtle flavors and delicate touches that is often playful or dynamic reflect the culinary concept of Gili Lankanfushi and my personality on a plate. 

How would you best describe your cooking style?  
My cooking style is simply Modern European Cuisine, however the longer I stay in the Maldives the more it takes on the local flavours of the Indian Ocean.

What is your top recommendation you think guests should try or do while staying at Gili Lankanfushi? 
My recommendation would be to enjoy every minute guests have on the island and to do as little or as much as they want, as most people will only visit the Maldives once in their lifetime, so I would encourage them to make the most out of it.

Personally, I would suggest for all guests to experience the destination dining – “Dine under the stars” concept we have to offer, where guests are able to dine at exquisite locations around the island, such as our very own “One Palm Island” and our floating “Castaway” platform. 

When it comes to planning a menu, where do you begin? 
Only one word explains it, seasonality.  We look at what is available, what is fresh, what is at its very best.  Inspiration for the menu comes easily, if you start from there.

What food trends or ingredients are you currently focused on? 
We try to avoid specific food trends and define our own food focus based on the ever changing set of menus based on seasonal quality ingredients that never go out of style.

How do you select your ingredients and why? 
As with every resort in the Maldives we have many suppliers, both locally and internationally, offering many different things.  We try to select specific suppliers to supply the things that they offer best.  By focusing on specific regional seasonality we can offer our guests some of the world’s best quality ingredients all year round.

Do you think we can promote Maldives as in a culinary destination? 
Absolutely yes, as I mentioned earlier, there are many resorts, many chefs offering some completely fantastic cuisine here in the Maldives.  We have access to some the world’s freshest markets, making the Maldives a wonderland for foodies.