Chefs’ Guilty Pleasures: Cyril Calmet

Cyril Calmet, executive chef of Mandarin Oriental, truly understands the meaning of a ‘love and hate’ relationship with junk food, especially when his favorite example is the undeniably delicious but unwholesome cheeseburger!

What could be more of an exemplary guilty pleasure choice than a classic good ol’ cheeseburger made of a juicy beef patty draped in melted cheese, topped with crispy bacon and a to-die-for sauce?

“Cheeseburger is my go-to midnight snack after a long hard day at work and I love pairing it with a glass of wine,” Cyril admitted.

For Cyril, his love affair with cheeseburgers began when he spent six years working in Chicago in the U.S.

From devouring tantalizing cheeseburgers served at street stalls to some of the most expensive and alleviated versions found at high-end dining restaurants, he tried it all – including those unique yet costly ones made of foie gras, wagyu beef and truffle.

The relationship turned sour after Cyril realized he had gained about 20 kilograms in three years. “I was working long hours and so I developed a habit of eating junk food,” he admitted.

“After gaining so much weight in such a short period of time, I decided to go on a diet and I was able to lose all of it in just six months. It is important for me to maintain it,” he said with a smile.

Nowadays, Chef Cyril allows himself a cheeseburger cheat day once a month, but there are times where he might treat himself to a little bit more, especially after dealing with back-to-back hard days at work. Think of it as a personal reward system.

“It is such an easy, quick and delicious food. Sometimes, I really can’t help but abuse it!” We get you, Cyril; we really do.

To maintain his weight, he tries to hit the gym frequently, mainly the morning after a night of pure indulgence. On top of that, his favorite cheeseburger has always been from his own restaurant at Mandarin Oriental, Jakarta, ensuring the use of quality ingredients in his dish.

“I think it is really acceptable to enjoy such junk food once in a while as long as it is in appropriate amounts,” said the chef.

He has traveled the globe and tasted different types of burgers including quinoa burgers and Thai-style burgers, but for him, nothing beats the classic cheeseburger with a beef patty and crispy bacon! We can’t help but concur with his sentiment.

A classic homemade burger bun with a premium Angus beef patty grilled to perfection, topped with melted grilled cheese, lettuce and of course, crispy bacon and cocktail sauce made with mayonnaise, ketchup, cognac and chili sauce.


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Written by Divya Pridhnani and Tatu Hutami Photographs by Dennie Ramon April 23, 2017.