On leadership, teamwork and the next generation of chefs
Chef Kamel Guechida was born in Perigueux, France and has been working in kitchens since he was 16. He came to the United States in 2013 and is now based in Las Vegas as the Corporate Executive Pastry Chef for the Wolfgang Puck Group (WPG). We recently met with him at the Wolfgang Puck kitchen at the Pacific Design Center in Los Angeles where we spoke to him about his work style, teamwork and what he thinks about today’s young chefs.
Although he’s based in Vegas at Lupo, Kamel travels the world to support openings and projects, and to change the menus at the various restaurants. Add in the annual Academy Awards Governor’s Ball and the Super Bowl Press Preview, and we wonder how he keeps it all together.
When speaking about the necessary focus on chefs’ well-being, he admits he’s not the best example. He has built a reputation as a tireless chef and believes that, if you like what you’re doing, you never tire. “I work a lot, but a two-day refresh each week is necessary,” he says. “You need time to go off and be with your family and do your own thing. You have to refresh yourself and what you’re doing, or you’re going to be lost.”
And certainly no one does it alone. Hollywood’s biggest night starts with the Group Leadership choosing the theme, followed by 35 chefs from the WPG restaurants contributing ideas to build the menu. “Every year, we want to make it interesting for our guests, but also for the team. It’s so special, even for us!”
“The more you give, the more you have success,” he says. “We push our young chefs. My favorite thing is to share and give knowledge to young people.”
“I try to guide them in precision and detail. If you mess up something in cuisine, you can fix it. Not so much in pastry. In pastry, you have to be excellent.”
“You’re the end of the meal and that’s what people remember.”
But young chefs are looking for quick success. “We need social media, but sometimes it shows a lie about how difficult our job is. Students don’t realize how hard it is. They’re so impatient to be famous.”
More about Chef Kamel Guechida:
Born in Perigueux, France, Kamel began his culinary career as an apprentice at age 16 at the three-Michelin-starred Mazi Francis, a chocolatier in Perigueux. Partly inspired by his Chef uncle, Kamel received a degree in professional pastry, specializing in chocolate and confections, from the Centre de Formation et Apprentissage de Boulzac. He worked as a consultant for Joël Robuchon from 2000-2005, and then moved to the U.S. in 2013 to focus on opening U.S.-based Robuchon projects. He joined Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining in 2013 as Corporate Director of Pastry and is now Corporate Executive Pastry Chef for the Wolfgang Puck Dining Group. As such, he opens new ventures around the world and sets the tone for all pastry and boulangerie for all WPG restaurants. See more of Chef Kamel on Instagram @chef_kamel_guechida.
For Chef Kamel’s recipes – Lemon Cheesecake Meringue, Panna Cotta with White Chocolate Ravioli, and Chocolate Souffle, click here.