When you think of hotel dining, you may think a few things: staid, ordinary, and underwhelming. Chef Victor Boroda, executive chef at Esterél in the Sofitel in Beverly Hills, however, is slowly but surely breaking that convention to offer guests and patrons a most intriguing dining experience.
The young, eager chef took over the post only seven months ago and has already breathed new life into the cuisine being served at the luxury hotel. The concept of the restaurant is Mediterranean, but goes beyond just that to bring a French-style feel to meet a California culture. “My goal is to use the freshest products and to do very little to them,” Boroda told The Daily Meal.
One of the things he loves about California is the access to outstanding produce; it’s why he believes California is poised to become the culinary epicenter for the United States.
With that in mind, he has created dishes like the ahi tuna, an outstanding preparation that uses very few ingredients. It’s flavored with salt, pepper, sumac, and Greek yogurt, paired with black rice and English peas, and topped with a fennel-cucumber slaw.
Boroda got his start by going to culinary school in Arizona followed by a stint on a Norwegian cruise line. “I wanted to break myself,” he began. “And I did so on that cruise ship by working every day — all day — in a French restaurant.”
Following the regimented cruising experience, he did stints in catering and Las Vegas restaurants before landing a job at the Orient Express, where he spent two years traveling throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico. The experience moved him and spurred on his love of food and travel. “People take the United States for granted,” he added.
He also spent time working at the healthy food chain True Kitchens in California as a sous chef. While the job, being at a chain, had its constraints, Boroda respected how the restaurant exalted fresh produce to create delicious and healthy meals for a large market.
Today, Boroda is having fun in his new gig. While the Sofitel is known for its core hospitality and its food and beverage programs that run throughout all of its properties to maintain its standard of excellence, the chef is still gifted with the freedom to play and to break down boundaries with his food.
Most recently, he worked in tandem with the hotel when it hosted an event, coined “Revealed,” that showcased a photography exhibition. The show took an intimate look at the world's greatest modern artists at work, and was curated by Olivier Widmaier Picasso, grandson of Pablo Picasso and author of Picasso: Portrait Intime.
The chef created a menu that reflected three of twentieth century art’s biggest movements: Cubism, Surrealism and Fauvism. For the Cubism movement, for example, the culinary theme was deconstructed dishes; the stand-out was the beef tartare in which the meat was not blended; rather, beef pieces were put next to each other in order to create an angular aspect.
This event tapped into Boroda’s creative side. He drew inspiration from the work of the most famous painters of the twentieth century, whose intimacy and daily life are revealed throughout the exhibition.
As for what’s next for the chef on the rise, he plans to continue working closely with his team and staff at Estérel to continue to elevate its cuisine. He also spends his free time in local farmers markets, neighborhood restaurants, and wine bars, hoping to feel inspired by the sights, smells, and sounds around him.