Luxuria Lifestyle gets up and personal with Chef Naya
August 12, 2019
It’s hard to believe it has been four months since our Luxuria UK relaunch and International Women’s month event.
The event was such a success; we plan to do it all again next year.
We were delighted to receive support from the Luxuria International team and ambassadors who worked behind the scenes to promote the inaugural event and turned out in full force on the night.
We couldn’t have hosted such an event without the support of our luxury brand partners and service providers who ensured the night went without a hitch and produced to the standard that has come to be expected of the Luxuria brand.
We will be running a mini series of interviews over the next few weeks of some of the key partners who were instrumental in helping us showcase the best of Luxuria on the night.
Our first interview, by our CEO Brenda Gabriel, is with a 26 year old rising star in the culinary world that wowed guests with his delicious three-course verrine menu – Chef Naya.
LL: I love to take an interest in the meaning behind a name as I think it tells you a lot about someones character, what does your name mean?
Chef Naya: My family name was actually Niya, but later was changed to Naya. In my family native country, Ivory Coast, ‘Niya’ means ‘I am here’ in war times.
LL: Where were you born and raised?
CN: I was born in Paris but lived internationally and just relocated from Barcelona.
LL: Where do you currently reside?
CN: Between London and Paris.
LL: What made you decide to become a chef?
CN: I have always loved cooking and started at a very young age as l had to look after my mum who was sick. When I got older, I attended s and qualified at the French School of Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management (Ferrandi Paris). I then moved to the US and worked as a Head Chef in Washington DC at a Ghanaian restaurant for a year. I later moved to Paris to further my education and qualified.
LL: What would you say are your culinary specialisations?
CN: Definitely Italian, French traditional food, American gastro and Pan African food (Nigerian, Ghanaian, Ivorian, Senegalese and Moroccan).
LL: Wow! That is quite a repertoire. Can you tell the Luxuria readers a bit about your journey to today?
CN: My journey is something I’m very proud of because I knew success in an area of my passion was possible, even if I didn’t know if a career as a chef would work out for me.
From a young age, I wasn’t scared to move to other countries or cities to hone my craft, but l found myself in so many different places. My travel experiences definitely contributed to me becoming the chef l am today.
LL: What’s your favourite cuisine/dish to cook and why?
CN: Avocado salad with crabmeat, cucumber, tomato and mint or smoked salmon tagliatelle with parmesan.
Professionally I would predominantly cook Italian food in most of the European restaurants l worked at, so for me Italian food comes quite naturally.
LL: What wine would you pair with this dish?
CN: Any quality Italian white wine such as Trebbiano d’Abruzzo, 2007
LL: A great choice! What is your favourite meal?
CN: Starter: Baked salmon roll stuffed with béchamel sauce
Main: Chicken avocado with gratin dauphinois
Dessert: Apple & white chocolate crumble
LL: Ok, I think you’ve made everyone reading this hungry now! Every chef has a signature dish, what would you say is yours?
CN: Curry mango sauce with goat and coconut rice
LL: I haven’t eaten meat for years but that sounds like a great combo of flavours! Almost every success story has a pivotal moment where the hero is given a big break. What would you say was yours?
CN: Being given the role of Head Chef in trendy gastronomic restaurant in Monaco for a season back in 2017.
LL: Awesome. I can imagine that prepared you well for the success you have had since then. I’m reliably informed that you have cooked for many interesting people and celebrities can you tell us about any of your celebrity or royal clients?
CN: I have had the pleasure of cooking for Princess Stéphanie of Monaco, Price Albert of Monaco, 50 Cent, French Montana, the Royal Family of Morocco, French international football player and World Champion Ousmane Dembele.
LL: Goodness! That is some CV. I feel even more honoured to have had you cater for our launch event. On behalf of our attendees; Thank you! For those who didn’t attend, you really missed out.
LL: You mentioned earlier that you have travelled a great deal throughout your career. Which countries has your work taken you to?
CN: The US, Spain, UK, Switzerland, Monaco, Corsica, Italy, Canada
LL: You must have quite a few stamps in your passport. What is the best thing about your experiences as a chef so far?
CN: As a chef there is always an aim to be able to experiment with food and push people’s culinary boundaries.
LL: With all the highs, there must be some no-so- highs. What would you is the most challenging thing about your industry?
CN: Challenging people food habits and pre conceived idea of what gourmet food should be and look like. Most people are creatures of comfort. I like to use food to help people break out of that.
LL: I totally agree! This is what I love about taking on a luxury magazine, being able to discover new experiences and open our readers up to a work of possibilities. What would you say you are most passionate about in life?
CN: Cooking for women as they are often more critical but also more honest about my food.
LL: (Smile). Yes, if you want an honest opinion on anything, I would say ask a woman. Would you consider yourself a role model to others?
CN: I’d like to think so as l regularly receive messages via social media from young aspiring or food enthusiasts who say l encourage them in their journey.
LL: That’s amazing. It must be great to know that you are inspiring other to become the best version of themselves through your work.
What advice do you have for other wanting to get into your industry?
CN: Definitely travel and explore the world. The worlds best chefs have always trained, travelled or worked internationally in order to perfect their craft.
LL: Great advice. I think that probably applies to most vocations. What are you working on at the moment? What is your next big project?
CN: Currently l am shooting a pilot for a cooking programme for a French channel. I am also planning on writing a recipe book
LL: You are clearly a man with vision. Do you believe your attitude is the reason you are where you are today?
CN: Yes, But also my personality, hard work and consistency. I believe those three ingredients are the key to success in any field.
LL: I think you may be on to something. You must have encountered many people in your line of work and on your travels. Who most inspires you and why?
CN: My best friend Nassim as from a very early age he always knew what he want to do, who he wanted to be and today he is exactly that. Focus and determination goes a long way.
LL: Nassim sounds like an admirable man. I think our readers would agree . Luxuria goes out to a global audience of affluent and HNWI who may see this interview and desire to book a private chef for their next event – who would you most like to cook for and why?
CN: It would have to be Sean Diddy Combs as he is to me the epithome of great taste, class, success and black excellence.
LL: Mr. Combs, if you are reading this, we can recommend Chef Naya’s services personally. Now that’s done, will you tell our readers where they can follow, make contact with and how they can access your services?
LL: Thanks so much for speaking with us and thank you again for catering our launch event.
Interview by Brenda Gabriel for Luxuria Lifestyle UK & Ireland