Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort recently hosted a special dinner in honor of Executive Pastry Chef Rabii Saber’s James Beard Award Nomination for Outstanding Pastry Chef. The three course-dinner (each with a twist by Chef Saber) with wine pairings was held on Thursday, March 14, and we were graciously invited to attend as media.
Rabii Saber, Executive Pastry Chef at Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort, oversees the dessert options for the Resort’s five restaurants, in-room dining, and banquet operations and was profiled on Tasty Chomps in 2017 as a part of National Chocolate Day celebrations.
“The world of sweets is for everybody. No matter your taste, you can always find something on the dessert menu that will make you happy.” – Rabii Saber, Executive Pastry Chef
Saber was born and raised in Morocco, and recalls helping his mother late into the night creating sweets from honey and almonds for morning holiday festivities. Though it was “a little bit nuts for men to be in the kitchen in Morocco those days,” Saber kept at it, fashioning cakes for siblings and friends before studying the culinary arts and heading off Five-Star restaurants across Europe and the US.
His path took a pivotal turn in the mid-‘00s when Top Chef Michael Voltaggio offered him a slot as head pastry chef slot at a start-up in Los Angeles. His boss at the time, Frederic Monti, a renowned Master Patissier in his own right, advised Saber to turn it down. “He told me if I wanted to be a good pastry chef, I should stay in hotels,” he recalls. “He was right. With dining rooms, banquets and room service, there are so many possibilities. At restaurants, all you do is plated desserts.”
Like Hawaii, Saber has found Orlando to be a little slice of paradise. “The skies, the trees, the sunsets here are so beautiful.” Passionate about fishing, Saber likes to go Florida bass fishing whenever he can find the time.
Moroccan-born Saber joined Four Seasons Orlando by way of Four Seasons Resort Lana’i. In 2016, after an extensive interview and vetting process, Saber was selected to be on the US team for the 2017 Coupe de Monde de la Patisserie in Lyon, France. Saber was in charge of chocolate artistry, and his chocolate cake creation won best in the competition.
When he’s not traveling to represent Four Seasons Resort Orlando at prestigious festivals and events, Saber oversees all of the dessert production at Four Seasons Resort Orlando – from the trendy gelato flavors at Lickety Split (such as the Guinness flavor for St. Patrick’s Day) to the decadent Peanut Butter Pie at The Lobby Bar and wedding cakes for special occasions.
2nd Course – Prime Sirloin tagliata | Rub: 80 % chocolate, thyme | Chocolate-Bordeaux sauce | potato ciambella
3rd Course – Nougat Glace l Fruits of the Forest l Valrhona Bahibe 46%
The nougat glace, usually a creamy, frozen dessert from Provence–a mix of Italian meringue, whipped cream, fruit, and caramelized nuts is truly a delight to the senses – from the textures of the sweet and refreshing icy nougat glace to all the wonderful features of forest flavors – it is no surprise that Chef Saber placed as a semi-finalist for these prestigious awards.
Although Chef Saber ultimately did not place as a finalist in this year’s James Beard Foundation Awards, he has already done so much to make Orlando, our city beautiful, very proud.
Acclaim for Chef Saber
“Chef Rabii is truly an innovative pastry chef who helped to change the landscape in Central Florida when it comes to dessert and his James Beard House nomination is a great reflection of his leadership and passion. His complexity in flavor, texture, taste and presentation is truly unique. Chef Rabii is a true craftsman, who earned his skills while working with many accomplished pastry chefs throughout the world. His professional integrity and his decisiveness make him an industry leader for our profession. Congrats to chef Rabii and his team at the Four Seasons!” -Stefan Riemer, Executive Pastry Chef, Culinary Development/Food & Beverage, Walt Disney World
“I am very pleased that a remarkably creative and well-rounded talent such as Rabii Saber has been nominated as Outstanding Pastry Chef by the James Beard Foundation. The immense talent, excellent workmanship and generous camaraderie he exhibited during the preparations for the Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie in 2017 was commendable. I can only wish him even more success.” –Ewald Notter, World Champion Pastry Chef
“Pastry Chef Rabii Saber possesses a rare combination of technical skills and artistic brilliance. He is a master chocolatier who is capable of creating intricate showpieces, but is equally adept at crafting a simple and memorably delicious plated dessert. He is exceptionally talented, and also happens to be one of the nicest guys in the business – I am a huge fan!”- Tish Boyle, Managing Editor, Pastry Arts Magazine
“Chef Saber is a very driven and passionate Pastry Chef. His craftsmanship and creativity are superb. I strongly support his nomination as a semifinalist for the 2019 James Beard Outstanding Pastry Chef award.” – Executive Pastry Chef Robert Nieto, Jackson Family Wines
Chef Saber is a true and talented professional pastry chef. I have known Rabii for about 10 years when he worked for the prestigious Greenbrier… Rabii never stopped to move forward and learn the art of pastry… he took the challenge to work for the most talented pastry chefs in the world to continue learning and improving his talent day after day. I was not surprised when I found out that he was selected to represent the USA team at the prestigious coupe du monde in Lyon France, when he was awarded the best chocolate cake in the world. Chef Rabii deserves to be selected for the James Beard Award and I am very confident that he will go to the final. I really wish him great success because i know he deserves it.” -Hichem Lahreche, Founder / CEO/Master Pastry Chef, Criollo Chocolatier LLC
“Chef Rabii is a true and genuine craftsman of pastry; the award would be well deserved.”- Bill Foltz, Executive Pastry Chef, L”Auberge Casino Resort, Lake Charles, Louisiana
“I am writing to provide my support to Chef Rabii Saber as he is being considered for the 2019 James Beard Award for Outstanding Pastry Chef. While I was Executive Pastry Chef at The Greenbrier Resort, Chef Saber worked for me. He is a hard worker with strong leadership skills. Over his years in the industry he has earned a reputation for being able to continuously produce high quality products.” –Chef Frederic Monti, CEO, Norman Love Confections, Inc.
“I had the pleasure to work with Rabii at The Bellagio in Las Vegas; his talent and remarkable palate are some of the reasons why I put his name in the hat to represent Team USA at the Pastry World Cup in France.” –Christophe Feyt, Executive Pastry Chef, Mandalay Bay
“In 2016, Rabii became member of the U.S. Team which competed in the 2017 Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie in Lyon, France. Rabii quickly assimilated in this group of expert pastry chefs. He brought his energy, passion, excellent pastry and chocolate skills to the group, and spent countless hours practicing and preparing for this challenge of a lifetime under a tight schedule and extreme pressure. Never did Rabii loose his calm and positive attitude. He is an excellent team member of whom we can always count to take on new tasks and initiatives. When I had the opportunity to visit him at the Four Seasons Resort in Orlando, I found him surrounded by a large staff, whom he had modeled his kind and friendly values. His international experience in some of the world’s best hotels and pastry shops, his mastering of multiple languages, and his sincere caring for fellow pastry chefs make him an excellent ambassador of our profession. Rabbi is a true gentleman who is always ready to lend a hand to fund raise for any noble cause. I am proud to call Chef Rabii Saber a friend and I wish the world to know him and appreciate his company as much as I do.” — Gilles Renusson, Chef and Pastry Instructor at the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education, President, US Pastry Team
“Rabii Saber is an outstanding pastry chef. He is very talented and has shown his mastery of the craft throughout his career in the luxury hospitality industry. Leading by example with an effervescent style of positivity, Rabii has always inspired others to follow and succeed along his path. His true passion for his craft has propelled him to a record of continuous overachievement. Rabii is deservedly respected and appreciated by his colleagues and customers for his dedication, diligence and spirit of cooperation. Equally as impressive is Rabii’s enthusiastic support of new food trend initiatives and company mindedness. It’s a pleasure to see Rabii’s continued successes, which I follow with great interest and applause.” – Franck Riffaud, Executive Pastry Chef , HILTON ORLANDO BONNET CREEK & WALDORF ASTORIA ORLANDO
“Chef Rabii, you are a rare combination of humility, dedication, sincerity, hard work and immense skills. Your efforts to share, grow and contribute to further our industry are much respected and appreciated. My best wishes.” – Anil Rohira, Export Corporate Pastry Chef at Felchlin -Switzerland
“Competitions, accolades and awards received speak for themselves. Chef Saber is one of the best and most talented pastry chefs in the US, and to represent American at the Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie in France is an exceptional achievement in a pastry chef’s career. I am honored to have had the opportunity to work with Chef Saber and still exchange about our passion for the pastry world.” – Jean-Marie Auboine, President & CEO, Jean Marie Auboine Chocolatier
“Our clients in Orlando are so lucky to have the talents of Chef Rabii to design and execute sublime pastry offerings for their events. I truly appreciate how he is constantly seeking new ways to elevate their experience and surprise guests with something unique. He is exceptionally skilled in the art of chocolate and I always look forward to what creations he will come up with next. I am so thrilled for Chef Rabii and his much deserved recognition as a semi-finalist this year for the James Beard Awards.” – Whitney Devin Carillon, Owner, Whitney Carillon Events and Très Chic Southern Weddings
“Rabii is an artist who challenges the boundaries of possibility and creates unimaginable textures, flavors and works that defy creativity and is unmatched in the pastry world. Rabii is the the most talented, creative and empowering pasty leader I’ve worked with. He constantly takes my breath away with his inspirational works of art. Wishing Rabii all the best for this deserved recognition!” – Phil Clough , General Manager, Aegis of Queen Anne on Galer, Seattle, Wash.
“Chef Rabii is talented, passionate, humble and creative pastry chef! Watching him compete on the Pastry Team USA, he proved he is innovative, a strong team player and highly motivated professional.”
– Luba Petrash, GRCC Banquet Chef, Grand Rapids, MI