EXCLUSIVE: Interview with Ingo Möller — The Executive Chef at LUX* North Male' Atoll

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Chef Möller, an experienced chef from Germany and the Executive chef of Lux North Male Atoll sat down with me in the terrace of the resorts INTI restaurant and shares his thoughts and insights about the culinary and tourism industry. From the first moment, chef Ingo was full of energy and excitement driven by his passion and enthusiasm. 

1. Can you give our readers an introduction about yourself?

Welcome to Lux North, my name is Ingo Möller, I’m from Berlin, Germany. 25 years in the industry,7 of them here in the Maldives, and rest of them in different countries like, China, Vietnam, India and many more.

2. Why did you choose to work in the Maldives?

I wanted to travel around the world, try different cuisines, like spices, cooking technics, to become innovative and creative and also to see what’s happening around the world, at an early age I knew I was going to become a chef so I just wanted to travel the world, and Maldives was always an option for me as there are a lot of cuisines to work in here and since 2008 I have been working in and out of Maldives for different companies since 2008.

3. Who was your inspiration to become a chef?

I grew up in the industry. Since an early age, I knew I want to become a chef since my mother and sister were also working in the industry. So it was very clear for me already at the age 8-10 that I wanted to become a chef. We grew our own vegetables in the elementary school garden and after several weeks we harvested what we grow and I went home went to the fridge and pantry and cooked my mother always something. So I was already exposed in an early age to fresh products and creativity to only use what you have given of products by season.

4. You have been working in the Maldives for a while now, how do you describe your experience in the Maldives?

It is always a pleasure to come to the Maldives for several reasons, including the culture, the amazing beaches, the people, which you are working with from around the world. 

5. So let’s say that you get to eat only one dish for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?

This is a very difficult question for anybody and impossible to answer especially for me as a chef. But also because of health benefits or deficits you would have form the only 1 food group for the rest of your life, if we would narrow it down only to continents I would go for Europe based on all fresh seasonal fruits & vegetables, Charcuterie, Cheese, Fresh bread & Pastries, Seafood, Poultry and Meat items.

But I also love Asian cuisine a lot, something fresh, light and healthy. 

6. What makes LUX* North Male stand out from the rest of the hotels in the Maldives?

Well I’m honored and lucky enough to be part of the lux north Family where at the first time all villas are totally different compared to all other 144 resorts in Maldives where all villas are built from wood and all have a thatched roof. We are different now with our Modern Miami style villas and this makes also stands out from all other resorts here in the Maldives. Also our staff is amazing since Lux invest in People to make it right that we always have a top standard but most important consistency to make sure that our guest to spend a time in our hotel worth their time and money. If you look using a big telescope from the sky into the Maldives, and you see white houses, that’s us, and no one else can say that. We are that unique! 

7. Gastronomy is a top inspiration for travelers around the world, why should one visit the Maldives for the culinary experience?

I would say since the food is so diverse and as we have great food from around the world here in Maldives it’s a destination for a great culinary experience, you can get really anything here, Maldivian, Sri Lankan, Bangladeshi, Indian, Malaysian, Chinese, Japanese cuisine and many more cuisines… So at this particular point in Maldives we have so many cuisines equally focused and so many varieties, which you don’t have at any other location. 

8. I assume that being in the kitchen is always a challenge for every chef, what was most challenging throughout your career?

The biggest challenge I guess was at the beginning of time when I moved out of Germany, I was in India. I’m a German and besides I’m organized so the time management became a challenge for me, back there it was like, if it’s not today it’s tomorrow or next week, I can’t work like this I need to be organized and know when things happened to also create a better kitchen atmosphere. Since there is always a lot happening in the kitchen the staff needs to be organized. There always is last minute work so at least we are better prepared in advance to and “I don’t care attitude” is not the best way to work in the hospitality industry. We should care for our guest needs so it’s important that we all understand this culture of serving with pleasure to make sure that the guests are always happy and provide them moments they will never forget.

9. What’s the happiest moment while being at work?

Happiest moment is also hard to describe, there are so many moments that makes you happy but the main goal for me as a chef is, I don’t care how many hours I work 15, 18 or 20 hours, for me at the end of the day it is just fact that the guest is enjoying the food and the smile on their face and knowing that we create memories always makes me happy. I think the atmosphere at the kitchen makes me happy and if I go to a customer after their dinner and ask how their experience was and seeing them happy makes my heart warm and it thrives me as a chef, this is why I became a chef. 

10. What’s the secret to become a successful chef?

To be successful, it does not matter whether you are a chef, photographer or a waiter, if you want to be successful you have to work very hard, overtime, very hard. And you need to understand what you want to achieve. It’s always hard work but you have to be patient and in the end it will drive you to success. It’s always the same no hard work no results, NO SUCCESS!

11. What would you say to the people who dream of becoming a great chef in the future?

You really should know what you are going to do. 

Well the kitchen is not an amusement park and just because you see now all those celebrity chefs on TV, YouTube doesn’t mean that you go the culinary school and after 2-3 years you get your TV gig and be instantly famous.

All those chefs worked extremely hard, sacrificing a lot, almost no free time for family or friends since you spent 15-18 hours a day the kitchen at least. If you work in a Michelin Star kitchen or 5* luxury hotel / resort.

Which gives also a wrong impression to the new and young chefs just because they see those tv chefs, it is really hard to be a chef and it’s a very hard industry with long hours, weekend’s, holidays working where the rest of your friends and family spend those time tighter but you are in the kitchen . Its tough in the kitchen to drive the best results and to push on daily basis. 

Actually I expect even more from the current generation since everything is online nowadays. So it is lot more easy to get all information about cooking, celebrity, new trends, chefs and the industry. It is so much better than it was at my time. Back then I had to buy myself all the magazines, chefs books and study and practice all new trends or recipes with no internet and or Tv shows running 24/7.