Biography of Karim Hassene - Executive Chef, One&Only Hayman Island

Chef Karim Hassene is the Executive Chef of One&Only Hayman Island, an ultra-luxury iconic private island resort at the heart of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Chef Karim was formerly the Executive Chef at One&Only Le Saint Géran and he brings a wealth of culinary experience and a love for fresh and local ingredients.

At One&Only Le Saint Géran, an epicurean haven with three stellar restaurants, Chef Karim oversaw the waterside Indian Pavilion, PRIME Contemporary Grill and La Terrasse, offering both local and international cuisine throughout the day.

“As a Chef, for inspiration, I look to my local environment – the farms and orchards,” says Chef Karim. “I really love the idea that you get a sense of place based on what you are eating.”

Chef Karim is a native of the Burgundy area in the heart of France. He began his culinary journey at the Hotel Management School in Paris when aged 16. Keeping the tradition of his family and taking after his father, who was a fine gourmet and taught him from an early age that the only way to learn about food was to make the magic with your own hands. He has travelled extensively, having the opportunity to work in a wide variety of places.

Before completing his studies, Chef Karim had already worked in several hotel restaurants in France. He worked at Les Trois Marches in Versailles, France, a 2-Michelin Star restaurant under the guidance of Chef Gerard Vié. During his 4-year experience at Les Trois Marches, Chef Karim was taken on a culinary journey of discovery and refinement. He then transferred to The Fairmont Hotel in Bermuda, where the tutelage of Chef Vié continued as he came on board as a consultant for the dining concepts.

Chef Gerard Vié is one of the formative influences in Chef Karim’s career. His penchant for travel and yearning to see more, learn more, do more, took Chef Karim to the position of Head Chef for the Newport Room, one of the five best fine dining restaurants on the east coast of the United States.

Chef Karim then travelled to St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands, where he took a different path within his career at The Ritz-Carlton, as the Dining Room Chef. He was then promoted to Executive Sous Chef and spent three summers in St. Thomas. The tropical bounty had him overwhelmed with the multitude of fruits, vegetables and spices. It is in St. Thomas where he started perfecting the fine art of balancing his knowledge of classic cuisine with local flavours.

Chef Karim then moved to The Ritz-Carlton San Francisco, California, in the heart of Chinatown, where he soon discovered a plethora of ingredients and cooking styles that surrounded him in the local markets that would influence his idea of Asian flavours in his cuisine. Chef Karim’s time in San Francisco was well spent along with Chef Thomas Keller and Chef Jean-Pierre Dubray looking over his shoulder. His career continued within The Ritz-Carlton; Chef Karim coordinated the opening team at The Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove in Florida, afterward, he moved to Sarasota, Florida, as the opening Executive Sous Chef at The Ritz-Carlton Sarasota. He spent three years in Sarasota, where he also became a food stylist for a local television programme.

An adventurer at heart, his next position took him to the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando, where the defining concept was Italian and he carried on perfecting his Mediterranean cuisine.

Chef Karim’s journey continued next in Udaipur, India at The Leela Palace Kempinski. Chef Karim was the opening Executive Chef and spent two years nurturing the hotel and benchmarking its cuisine among the best in the area.

25 years in the industry has given him experience with a variety of cuisines, ranging from French, Italian, Caribbean, Indian and Asian.

Chef Karim joins One&Only Hayman Island