Fusion Spices up Its Kitchens with New Group Food & Beverage Manager

By: City Pass Guide

Vietnam-Based Hospitality Group Appoints David Perlmutter to New Role

From head waiter to heading operations for an entire restaurant group, David Perlmutter has taken on just about every role in the restaurant industry over the last two decades. His latest challenge sees him stepping into the hotel sector as Fusion’s group food & beverage manager.

Fusion PQ

Perlmutter joins Fusion, which operates several wellness-inspired resorts and hotels throughout Vietnam, at a fertile time for the group. The company plans to open two new properties in 2019, with two “all-suite” hotels and three “all-spa-inclusive" resorts already in the Fusion portfolio alongside the recently launched Alba Wellness Valley by Fusion. As the group expands, Perlmutter’s role will involve taking Fusion’s signature onsite restaurants back to their roots, elevating simplicity and authenticity over blue-sky reinvention.

“Vietnamese food is famous all over the world for its freshness and its unique flavour combinations, so why change it?”, said Perlmutter. “People come here wanting a “back to the source” experience. We will aim to provide this, with dishes cooked, prepared and presented in the most traditional way possible, to the highest standards possible, and with the best locally sourced ingredients possible”.

It’s a direction that will also complement Fusion’s holistic wellbeing philosophy, with healthy cooking styles, little to no use of oils or added fats, and an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables all ubiquitous in Vietnamese cuisine. “It’s the ideal balanced diet”, adds Perlmutter “with many dishes accompanied by large baskets of garden-fresh leaves and herbs”.

While the French national now lives and breathes all things food-related, working in F&B wasn’t initially on his radar. “I studied history but all of that changed in 1996 when I got a job as a waiter”, he explains. “I quickly developed a passion for food and slowly worked my way through almost every position in the business—even sometimes jumping into the kitchen when needed”.

Since switching paths, he eventually went on to manage several restaurants in Paris and made the move to Asia three years ago. His most recent position was group director of operations for the Farandole Group in Bangkok, where he was responsible for oversight of three popular restaurants and bars in the city.

Perlmutter’s position with Fusion is his first F&B role within a hotel group. “I think [coming from the restaurant side] is actually a positive point in today’s super-competitive industry”, said Perlmutter. “A hotel or resort's restaurant needs to have an identity, a soul—something that appeals to guests and non-guests alike. Many owners around the world are starting to realise this. It’s no longer enough to provide a convenient place to eat. People want an experience”.

Where Others Follow, Fusion Leads

Since its launch in 2008, Fusion has become a leading innovator of wellness-inspired hotels and resorts and is now the only fully vertically integrated hospitality company in Southeast Asia. Under one roof, Fusion conceptualises, designs, builds and manages beachside resorts and city hotels through its uniquely branded hospitality concepts. Fusion has opened five resorts and hotels in Vietnam so far, with a team now boasting more than 1,600 employees, including 300 spa specialists. At present, guests can experience Fusion’s original “all-spa inclusive” concept, and “breakfast anytime, anywhere” service, along with its inventive approach to the hospitality sector, in Da Nang, Cam Ranh, Ho Chi Minh City and Phu Quoc. The Fusion catalog of brands currently includes:

fusion resort

Fusion Resorts: Where contemporary original design meets traditional Vietnamese charm. Home to Fusion’s unique “all-spa inclusive” service, Fusion Resorts fully embrace the combination of ultimate wellness with a rejuvenating and down-to-earth lifestyle, all in natural, picturesque surroundings.

Fusion Suites: With well-located city hotels in key business and tourism hubs, Fusion Suites redefine holistic living and bring a wellness-inspired vacation experience to today’s urban adventurers. As 21st-century city life continues to accelerate, Fusion Suites aim to bring balance and harmony to the urban jungle through healthy and nutritious food and drink options, daily spa journeys included in the room rate, and original and rejuvenating interior design.

Fusion Originals: The individually branded Originals do not share a consistent style. Instead, Fusion tailors each hotel to evoke the life and times of a pioneering artist, inventor, scientist or social leader. Originals aim to provide a fun, fresh, and 100% unique hotel concept each and every time.

Alba Wellness Valley by Fusion: Thirty kilometres from the city of Hue, this expansive project is located at the source of the Thanh Tan geothermal spring and comprises two accommodation options: the five-star Alba Wellness Resort by Fusion and the three-star Thanh Tan Hot Springs by Fusion. With a series of thermal baths at its heart, the valley also offers various outdoor facilities including a water park, a family-friendly craft village and organic farm, and a thrilling highwire course and zip line.

Image source: Fusion Resort


Salinda Restaurant on Phu Quoc Island

By: City Pass Guide

During our days at Salinda, the five-star luxury resort and spa on Phu Quoc Island, I had the chance to try an assortment of specialities, prepared by the fabulous chefs of Salinda Restaurant.

The restaurant is on the ground floor, right below the picturesque Phu Quoc honeymoon villas. Its decoration is tasteful and the open kitchen is spacious and well lit. The first joy upon entering the restaurant (and admiring a part of the largest wine collection of Phu Quoc Island) is to watch the masters at work. Whether you sit inside or outside, or even dine by the pool or on the beach, every location has its own charm. Just pick the corner you enjoy the most. And since we were just talking about the cozy honeymoon villas, there is room service as well.

Like all the other staff members at Salinda, the waiters and waitresses carry open smiles naturally. Since I am receptive to chatting, we had great conversation at times. Mostly about food of course, but also about Vietnam and, surprisingly, about the gardens of our respective hometowns, where mothers or aunts grow fruit and vegetables.

Honestly, there is nothing better for breakfast than a coffee and a smile.

Vietnam, Italy and India - Salinda’s culinary triumvirate

A look into the menu shows three distinct cuisines, each one brought into the restaurant by a native master chef of his trade:

The Vietnamese executive chef puts the best dishes of Vietnam on the menu. Mango salad, banana flower salad, braised pork belly, grilled grouper in banana leaves and many more.

The Vietnamese cuisine at Salinda restaurant is actually the most popular among foreign and native tourists on Phu Quoc Island. Of course, it’s Vietnam! Foreign tourists want to experience Vietnamese cuisine as a part of their visit, and Vietnamese couples and families love to taste the high-end options of their country’s amazing food.

The Italian chef is responsible for the marvelous Italian salads, desserts and pasta dishes. Personally, I consider Italian cuisine some of the best of Europe. In my Austrian hometown, we have a selection of excellent restaurants, run by Italian families. So it does not come as a surprise that the Italian items on the menu got my attention immediately. I mean how to better test the quality of food than to compare it with something you already know by heart and stomach?

I guess it is also no surprise when I tell you, the chef at Salinda restaurant can stand proud before mamma and papa of every family-owned restaurant I know.

And now we come to the third man of the culinary triumvirate at Salinda Restaurant. The Indian chef. While I consider Italian cuisine as some of the best of Europe, Indian food, in my opinion, is some of the best in the world. In the past six millennia, the cooks, chefs and housewives of the subcontinent have created and perfected flavors like no other culture. And here at Salinda restaurant, we meet a master of his trade.

The wine sortiment

Before I start to focus on the marvelous dishes, which we had the privilege to sample, I would like to take a look at the extensive wine menu. Salinda resort has two perfectly tempered wine storages with 1,200 bottles in total. I am not a sommelier, but the collection is impressive. Reds, whites, and rosés from all over the world. I see names that I only know from James Bond movies.

I see a Cabernet Sauvignon from Château Margaux in France, a Shiraz from Penfolds Grange in South Australia and even Grüner Veltliner from Weingut Prechtl in Austria’s Weinviertel.

What an amazing collection!

Breakfast buffet

By the way, for breakfast, they offer an amazing buffet that satisfies every culinary wish from the morning until it’s time to head for lunch. Unfortunately we did not try the breakfast. But the espresso was good and strong, the perfect kick I needed in the morning.

But now, without further ado, let’s get to business and discuss the dishes I tried at Salinda restaurant.

Meals at Salinda restaurant

On the first day for dinner, I ordered:

Pumpkin soup

Grilled, line-caught grouper in banana leaves

Strawberry tiramisu

Inspiring

I was actually really surprised to find pumpkin soup on the five-star specialities menu, but since it’s one of my favorite soups and a little private signature dish of mine, I had to try it. And it was amazing, how a skilled chef can transform a simple dish into something mouthwatering and delicious. The surprise was a big and butter-soft scallop, and the whole taste experience was rounded with candied ginger and olive oil.

Refreshing

The fish was a well-rounded flavorful gift from Thien Hau the goddess of the sea, wrapped in fresh banana leaves. When I opened the banana leaf package, the refreshing scent of lemongrass caressed my nose, and the taste did not stand behind! One of the great things I discovered since I came to Southeast Asia are the banana leaves. They lock in all the flavors of a dish and perfectly distribute the heat, so especially fish cooks equally and stays juicy. Opening a banana leaf package that contains Vietnamese food is one of the great joys every gourmand should experience once in a while.

Creamy

I love making strawberry tiramisu, and my friends love eating it – if they can get some, that is. So naturally, I picked this dish to compare tastes and steal... I mean, get inspired by how a five-star chef creates tiramisu. It was beautiful and creamy and sweet and the homemade sauce tasted of a thousand ripe strawberries... Just delicious and yes, addictive.

At the restaurant of Salinda Resort and Spa, they buy the ingredients as fresh and local as possible. What the chefs cannot buy on Phu Quoc Island, they try to get from other places in Vietnam. For example, they are in a partnership with organic farmers in Da Lat. Only if the resources can't be found in Vietnam at all, they import.

On the second day, I had a delicious lunch as follows:

Penne pesto

Chocolate cake

Fragrant

Penne pesto? You might say I am weird, ordering penne pesto when I could have had steak, seafood or other five-star dishes. Let me tell you something: creating a good pesto requires a mix of culinary high-end science, experience and a good measure of love for cooking. Well... sort of. I guess the love for cooking alone can create a good pesto, but without it, there is no way.

As a matter of fact, I had good pesto such a long time ago, that I barely remembered the taste. And how to test an Italian chef other than with pasta? So, the penne were al dente as it is the proper way of cooking them. You could taste the freshness of the ingredients of highest quality. Basil, olive oil, pignoli... and a few things the master added as a friendly nod towards Vietnam. Chopped cashews for example, and they fit well. It was more than delicious pasta. Basta.

Chocolate!

Now that chocolate cake was very, very chocolaty. To call it a dream would be not quite right, because the firm consistency and strong chocolate taste made it a grounded, powerful dessert. To compare it to yesterday's dessert at Salinda restaurant, the strawberry tiramisu was a cloud, light and fluffy. The chocolate cake was a mountain, but one of the sort you love to climb, and would love to climb at least twice a week. It was accompanied by a scoop of homemade, fresh and marvelous vanilla ice cream. So good!

For dinner on the second day, I decided to challenge the Indian chef by ordering:

Vegetable samosa

Chicken tikka masala

Black currant sorbet with Phu Quoc pepper

Flavors!

The samosas were like little, triangular pillows. When I opened them, they revealed fragrant, soft vegetable fillings, seasoned to perfection. It is hard to describe, but I started smiling when I took the first bite, and I smiled all the time during the whole meal. I don't know what it is, that makes me love Indian food so much, the spices, the way they prepare the dishes, the flavors, enhancing and supplementing each other until everything tastes so... whole?

More flavors!

Now, tikka masala is one of my favorites of all time and the chef at Salinda restaurant met all my expectations by pampering my taste buds with this wonderful dish. It was actually a bit sweeter, finer and rounder in the taste than I had expected, because I am used to the Southern style of Indian cuisine, which is a bit more rustic. The lemon chutney was the first of its kind I ate and its spicy, zesty taste complemented the full gravy of the masala. This dish left me speechless.

And even more!

I know, I know... All of you wonder what on earth can top the chicken tikka masala at Salinda restaurant. The answer is nothing. But one dessert is so rich and intense in it's unique composition, that it is more than worthy to be admitted into this succession of culinary delights.

Imagine a sorbet from fresh and ripe black currants. Now that in itself is a taste like no other, but combine this strong flavor with the aromatic, warm and round feeling of ground, black Phu Quoc pepper.

Have I ever tasted anything better?

Well, leaving the cooking skills of my mother and grandmother aside - I mean nothing can ever match grandma's kettle - the kitchen at Salinda five-star luxury resort can match most of my favorite, dedicated restaurants in Saigon and other places where I have lived.

Why didn't I sample more Vietnamese dishes?

Oh, I would have loved to! Even if I recently read a rather sad post by some food critic, who did not think too well of Vietnamese food, I still believe that Vietnam has some unique and amazing flavors and kitchen styles to introduce to our culinary universe.

Especially fresh ingredients and seafood are an area where Vietnamese chefs can teach the world. But my purpose was to test and challenge the kitchen at Salinda restaurant on Phu Quoc island. And I can only compare things I know.

Also, I was not alone. My colleague, Mr. Thoai sampled an array of Vietnamese dishes, and he loved them!

Salinda restaurant belongs to the Salinda five-star luxury resort, but it’s open to the public and not just to resident guests. The food is amazing, so if you are traveling to beautiful Phu Quoc Island, drop by and book a table for a masala. Believe me, it’s delicious!

More about Phu Quoc Island

While you are enjoying your stay at Salinda Resort, you may also want to take a look at the beautiful Phu Quoc Island and the many attractions there.

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