Meet Mark Wouters. A Dutch F & B Manager at the Mandarin Oriental who’s fresh off the boat from New Zealand.
Congratulations on becoming the new Food & Beverage Director at the Mandarin Oriental, Jakarta. How are you settling in?
I am settling in perfectly well thanks to and adjusting to humidity and the temperature change, air conditioning life and the chaotic traffic of Jakarta, but overall the most important aspect is the friendliness of my team.
Where were you posted before here? Where’s been the most memorable experience so far?
I lived in New Zealand for four and a half years and joined an iconic property, Huka Lodge, which is situated in the middle of the north island on the beautiful banks of the Waikato River. I started my journey there as a Restaurant Manager and within a period of two and a half years became the General Manager.
The most memorable experience so far again was my time in New Zealand as it was a wonderful opportunity to understand the high-end market, to meet and greet celebrities, royalty, and many interesting walks of life.
New Zealand and now Jakarta… That’s a huge change. What made you decide to move to the Big Durian?
After reaching the position of General Manager at a very young age and working for small luxury brands, I made the choice to throw myself into the deep end again and choose Asia as a destination, as well as making the switch from small luxury to large luxury. This would give me a new opportunity for further development and grow within the hospitality industry.
Was relocating difficult? And what are you finding the hardest thing to adjust to?
Relocating was not difficult because my background has taken me to many places and cultures during my childhood. The hardest thing to adjust to is living in the air conditioning and the noise of the city.
Have you had a chance to sample any Indonesian foods yet?
The first six weeks in Jakarta has given me an opportunity to eat Nasi Goreng, Beef Rendang and Soto Ayam.
What’s the next thing on your agenda at the Mandarin? Do you have any interesting events coming up?
We have several interesting events happening at Mandarin Oriental, Jakarta such as Nicolas Isnard, a Michelin Star Chef who will be cooking at Lyon. MO Bar will also be presenting Indonesian night at the end of March as well as a new Saturday Brunch, instead of Sunday Brunch.
If I wanted to start a career in F & B, where would you advise to be the best place to start?
All F&B careers start with a great education. Mine started in the hotel school, Ter Duinen in Belgium, which is a great institute for classical gastronomy. After my education I would recommend to take training at a Michelin star restaurant.
Confession time, Mark. What weird or bizarre food combination do you love that others may not understand?
Beetroot Risotto with Sweetbreads, is delicious!
And if you could compare your personality to that of a type of cuisine, which would you be and why?
Any type of food or combination puts a smile on my face, but at the same time makes me think about how something is put together. This is very much in sync with my personality I’d say!