“Day in the Life” allows you to step into the shoes of a UAE resident to experience a typical 24 hours in their work and home life
Feeding 1,200 for breakfast may seem like a daunting task, but for Christophe Devoille it’s a piece of cake.
The Frenchman, who honed his skills under the guidance of celebrated chef Alain Ducasse, took the reins as executive pastry chef at Atlantis The Royal before the hotel’s launch in February.
Today, Mr Devoille oversees all of Atlantis The Royal’s bread and pastry production, a 24/7 operation that delivers 4,000 croissants, 30 loaves of bread, 300 bread rolls and 500 cakes every day.
Here, The National joins Mr Devoille on a typical day juggling patisserie and prep with the occasional sugar rush.
5.30am: Starting the day right
Tasting desserts is an important part of Mr Devoille’s job and hitting the gym is vital for keeping his waistline in check.
“At around 5.30am I go to the gym when I'm not being lazy,” he says. “Just 45 minutes is enough for me to empty my brain and prepare for the long day ahead.
“I can be at work until around 9pm depending on the day and exercise energises me. I try not to eat too much sugar but sometimes it comes with the territory.”
7am: The most important meal of the day
Atlantis The Royal’s 19 breakfast-serving restaurants are always bustling, and the day starts early for the kitchen staff.
“I oversee the entire breakfast operation and at 7am, I check all the pastries and make sure the team is ready to go” says Mr Devoille.
“Everything is made fresh and it takes my team of 42 around six hours every morning to bake and prepare everything for the day ahead.”
To keep the supply constant, Atlantis The Royal bakers work on rotation to make sure the kitchen is always manned, and nothing is wasted under Mr Devoille’s watch.
“We send leftover bread and Danish pastries from breakfast to the cafeteria for Atlantis staff and all of the leftover croissants are used to make mini sandwiches,” he says.
“We want to keep it sustainable, but our standards never slip and you will never be served old cake at Atlantis.”
Noon: Let them eat cake
One of Mr Devoille’s sweeter responsibilities is tasting new recipes and he uses the downtime in between breakfast and afternoon services to work on creations.
“We want to make sure we can offer our guests something new every week so on Friday or Saturday we add one or two new items,” he says. “In the spring, we have a lot of European fruit like cherries and raspberries and the menu always reflects what is in season.”
At the beginning of the week, Mr Devoille challenges his team to work on something new.
“We have a presentation and a tasting session and I might tweak the recipe a little bit to add sweetness or crispiness,” he says.
“For me, you can’t beat something simple like an amazing apple pie but a lot of our guests prefer chocolate.
“After the cake tasting is done, I’ll usually have something light for lunch like a salad – you can’t go the gym every morning and then eat nothing but cake.”
3pm: Preparation is key
Atlantis The Royal has a packed roster of events throughout the year and menu preparation always starts early for the patisserie team.
“I started working on our Christmas cake in the spring to add a new shape and develop a new mould and packaging,” says Mr Devoille. “It’s important not to rush these things and it’s best to finalise all of our projects during the summer when it is quieter.”
As well as the festive season, preparations are also well under way for Thanksgiving, Halloween and New Year, with tantalising treats in the pipeline.
“I work with my sous chef and pastry chef on the design and recipes,” he says. “We’ve got some very exciting desserts planned for the winter months.”
7pm: Party time
During events season, Mr Devoille will often stay late into the evening to make sure everything runs smoothly at various parties and banquets.
“When you’re passionate about what you do then the time flies,” he says. “I’m very lucky that I love my job and I’m happiest when the hotel is busy and people are enjoying the food.
“Depending on what time I finish, I might see a movie or meet friends, but often it’s just a cup of tea and a relaxing evening with my fiancee.”