Our interviewee for this edition of Breaking Barriers is the first female Executive Chef at Andaz Singapore, Nadine Waechter-Moreno.
Hailing from Luzern, Switzerland, her foray into the culinary world was inspired by childhood memories of her grandmother in the kitchen. Waechter-Moreno has been creating culinary delights for over 20 years now, and has worked across the US and Australia before joining the Hyatt family in 2008 at Park Hyatt Tokyo as Chef de Cuisine. There, she quickly rose through the ranks to be Executive Chef within two years, and was instrumental in the opening of Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen in Mexico.
Most recently, Waechter-Moreno was Cluster Executive Chef for Hyatt Regency Bali and Andaz Bali for four years, where she was, and continues to love the warm culture of Asia as well as Asian flavours.
She has, since taken over and leads all culinary operations for Andaz Singapore, from events and catering, to each of the five drinking and dining concepts of the hotel. "Singapore’s diverse culinary scene and reputation is one that I am excited to be a part of," says this foodie, who on her days off work can be found soaking in Singapore’s food culture at restaurants and hawker centres, and adding some Singlish phrases to her collection of languages including German, Spanish and French.
In this interview with Aditi Sharma Kalra, we find out more about Chef Nadine Waechter-Moreno's childhood influences, inclusive work practices she implements, and her dream dish that represents diversity.
Q What did you dream of becoming as a little girl? What attracted you to the food & hospitality industry?
I always wanted to do something food-related as many of my childhood memories revolve around the kitchen with my grandma. We would spend hours in the kitchen cooking and baking, and it gave me a lot of room for creativity, which continues to be part of the job that I enjoy. The F&B industry is always very exciting, nothing stays monotonous. There is never a standstill as there is always something new and innovative or new processes and products to work with. Another intangible reward is that I get to interact and engage with guests and colleagues from different backgrounds.
When you’re constantly learning, it makes life for me, fulfilling.
Q What it was like starting out as a woman in this sector? Did you come across gender stereotypes, and how did you tackle them?
As society has evolved, there are now more female chefs taking lead and making big leaps. I am proud to be part of this positive movement and to be part of a brand that values diversity and inclusivity. Any chef will know that gender is not the defining factor for success, and ultimately, it’s all about the flavours that you bring to the table.
Q Share with us a little about your transition into the culinary world. What are some lessons you brought over from your grandma’s kitchen back in Luzern?
In my grandma’s kitchen, everyone is welcomed and food is meant to be shared.
Around the table, there is always fun and laughter, and meal times are always enjoyable as she managed to create an environment that anyone can unwind and not take oneself too seriously. This was part of my upbringing and I hope to emulate and give this experience to anyone who dines at Andaz Singapore.
Q As you now lead culinary operations across five drinking & dining concepts, what are some inclusive work practices you implement to ensure your team brings their most authentic self to work?
I always give chefs the opportunity to present what they have in mind so that they can let their creativity flourish. Giving feedback is also important but giving constructive feedback is even more important.
Q If you could represent the concept of diversity in a signature dish, which one would you choose, and why?
Instead of a dish, I’d like to say 5 ON 25’s dim sum experience. Each dish is different just like how it represents an individual of different personalities. You order these small plates that all add up to create a dim sum experience, and if each dish is executed well, the experience becomes a memorable one. This is much like how an individual is mentored to their best and a team is made.
In this brand-new series of interviews, titled Breaking Barriers, HRO speaks to women leaders globally who have forged their paths and made a mark in their career of choice, doing what they love best — living out their passions and uplifting others to go further and faster. Read all our Breaking Barriers interviews here.
Photo / Provided