Executive Chef, Hilton
With a career spanning over two decades at some of the world’s finest dining establishments, Luigi Vespero is the Executive Chef at Waldorf Astoria Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) overseeing the hotel’s three distinct dining venues. For as long as Luigi can remember, he always wanted to be a Chef. Starting out in the industry in several Commis Chef roles in restaurants across Italy, Luigi moved to the United Kingdom in 2003 and held Chef de Partie positions first at the Cambio restaurant in Guildford, followed by the City Café at the City Inn Hotel in Birmingham. Here he mastered all sections of the kitchen, working to produce high quality food whilst adhering to the upmost standards in kitchen cleanliness. It was in 2016 that Luigi relocated to London, and embarked on a breakthrough role in his career as Senior Chef de Partie at Gordon Ramsay Holdings. In the company of some of the greatest chefs, Luigi was trained to Michelin standards and has carried his learnings to this day. The following year, Luigi joined The Wolseley – a London landmark for dining – as Sous Chef. Luigi was primarily responsible for main courses and he worked closely with the Executive Chef to oversee the day to day operations of the kitchen, which catered to around 1,000 covers a day. In 2010, Luigi joined Galvin La Chapelle as Sous Chef where he spent ten years delivering a menu of modern French cuisine. An integral part of the pre-opening team, Luigi worked closely with Chris and Jeff Galvin to launch the restaurant and within only a year, the third Galvin restaurant gained a Michelin star in the 2011 Red Guide and grabbed no less than eight top restaurant awards including AA London Restaurant of the Year and Tatler Magazine Restaurant of the Year. Luigi continued his collaboration with the Galvin brothers as Head Chef of Galvin Bistrot de Luxe, the original flagship restaurant by the award-winning Galvin duo, and was in complete charge of the kitchen operations, in addition to the marketing and promotional efforts for the restaurant. Luigi also participated in “Britain’s Best Dish: The Chefs” where he was awarded Britain’s Best Main Course out of 60 participants, and contributed to the creation of “Galvin: a Cookbook de Luxe”. In 2018, Luigi made the pivotal move to Dubai, to the signature Rib Room at the iconic Jumeirah Emirates Towers. In his role as Head Chef he oversaw the smooth operations of the restaurant and the adjacent and well-loved wine bar, The Agency. This role took him to Jumeirah Restaurant Group, where in addition to his Cluster Head Chef responsibilities, Luigi was in charge of creating, developing and executing the group’s new home-grown concepts at Al Wasl Square, JBR the Beach and Bluewaters. A year later Luigi joined the F&B Division of Meraas as Executive Chef. First he was reunited with the Galvin brothers in a joint collaboration between Galvin Restaurants and Meraas to expand the Galvin brand globally, which included the launch of two new restaurants. Commanding a team of 50 people between the two venues, Luigi managed all aspects of the culinary division, including project development and operational management for the Galvin brand. His most recent role with Meraas saw him take charge of multiple award-winning F&B concepts spanning premium casual and fine dining, such as Galvin Bistro & Bar, Lima and Toro & Ko, to name just a few. Besides supporting the chefs in charge of the basic day to day operational requirements, Luigi led and developed large culinary teams, key stakeholder relationships and cultivated an international network of suppliers, in addition to implementing effective operational controls and driving revenue generation and cost saving initiatives. Some of Luigi’s prized accolades include winning “Chef of the Year” at the BBC Good Food Middle East Awards 2018, “French Specialty Chef” at the Pro Chef Middle East Awards 2017, “Most Commended Chef of the Year” at the Caterer Middle East Awards 2018, Esquire Middle East’s “Top 100 Most Influential People” in 2018, highly commended Chef of the Year at the Hotelier Middle East Awards 2020 and has recently been included in the Executive Chef Power 50 as the 50 most influential executive chefs working in the Middle East’s hotels. A leader by nature, Luigi is perfectly poised to direct his culinary teams at Waldorf Astoria DIFC and ensure elevated culinary experiences at the signature Bull & Bear restaurant, St. Trop rooftop lounge and iconic Waldorf Astoria Peacock Alley. Within his two years of experience at Waldorf Astoria DIFC, Luigi has successfully led his team to win prestigious awards for Bull & Bear at highly acclaimed publications such as the 2020 and 2021 Best North American & Caribbean title for two consecutive years at Time Out Restaurants Awards Dubai, Best Steakhouse Restaurant in the Fact Dining Awards Dubai 2020 and recently the first brunch awards at What's On Dubai Awards 2021.