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Chefjw.com :: Biography :: (4) Triumphing with award-winning innovations

Triumphing with award-winning innovations
You can call Chef Wierzelewski' cuisine culturally inspired, but don't call it fusion. "Fusion, to me, implies a loss of authenticity," he says. "I am adamant about creating exceptional food that accurately reflects the cooking styles and flavors of each cuisine. I add my own artistic flair, but not to the point that the food loses its identity." To preserve authenticity in his dishes, Chef Wierzelewski brings chefs from other parts of the world to work with him at each restaurant. In the kitchen at Aria, he employs chefs from France, Malaysia, China, Japan and Thailand.

Chef Wierzelewski's commitment to learning from the best has kept him working abroad for most of the past decade - from two-star Michelin-rated restaurants in France to five-star hotels in Thailand. "I'm not a Chicago chef who goes on vacation - it's about sacrificing whatever it takes to learn directly from the source," he says. This extensive education has made him a leading authority on cross-cultural culinary trends and traditions.

Wierzelewski's versatility as a chef is unparalleled. He has worked in more than 18 restaurants around the world, including: Ma Maison, a fine dining restaurant featuring innovative French cuisine in Bangkok, Thailand; Lafite, a traditional French fine dining restaurant in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Paulaner Brauhaus, a Bavarian microbrewery in Bangkok, Thailand; Miyako, a Japanese restaurant in the Mariana Islands; and stateside spots like The Wine Cellar, a modern French restaurant in Newport Beach, Calif.; and Parian, a culturally inspired fine dining restaurant in Las Vegas.

Chef Wierzelewski has also been recognized with several prestigious awards: In 1993 he won the Golden Siam Award for best French Restaurant (Ma Maison) in Bangkok; in Kuala Lumpur he received the Bonlac Great Chefs of Asia Award, naming him one of the Top Twelve Chefs of Asia for 1996. That same year he was also named Malaysia's Best Chef of the Year.

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© James Wierzewlewski 2010