Lifting Bhutanese dining to a new level

Chef Dean Sincock

In place of traditional buffet dining, expect a refreshing menu full of international flavours when you stay at Zhiwa Ling Ascent.

Each dish has been perfected by New Zealand-born head chef Dean Sincock who has set his sights on offering a unique dining experience for visitors to Bhutan.

“We change the menu daily,” says Chef Dean, “and we provide full table service.”

Dishes have included red wine poached tenderloin with Mutsutake mushrooms, gel and rocket leaves, and also confit NZ Salmon with roasted broccoli, Beurre Blanc and fondant potatoes.

Mouthwatering indeed.

“We’re buying expensive proteins out of Singapore, Australia and New Zealand. We’re getting salmon and ocean trout from Tasmania, beef and lamb rump from New Zealand, prawns from Australia, parmesan cheese from Italy, to offer people something a bit different from the standard fare.”

Chef Dean began cooking at age ten baking bread for the family household. He has prepared food in restaurants, cafes, fishing lodges, and even a luxury barge. He has clocked up more than 20 years experience spanning four continents.

In his late teens, after completing a short cooking course in Christchurch, Chef Dean headed to Australia where he did an apprenticeship in a small but well regarded restaurant on the lower North Shore of Sydney.

A two year jaunt through England soon followed and then it was back to Sydney where he worked at Lucio’s Italian Restaurant in Paddington before taking on a number of head chef positions.

In 2002 Chef Dean returned to New Zealand to live, and spent that summer working at the Boatshed Cafe in Mapua, just on the outskirts of Nelson. After that season he went back to Australia to work, but was soon back in New Zealand working at Lake Rotoroa Lodge over the summer and northern hemisphere fishing lodges over winter, first at Murmansk in Russia, then another fishing lodge in Bristol Bay, Alaska.

In recent years Chef Dean spent the New Zealand winter in the south of France on the Roi Soleil – a luxury barge cruising the Canal du Midi. “Spending the European summer cooking for clients in one of the world’s great food and wine regions was a great experience.”

Chef Dean was first introduced to Bhutan in 2011 when he was asked to do some consultancy work at Zhiwa Ling Heritage Hotel, Zhiwa Ling Ascent’s sister hotel located in Paro. During two separate seasons, he taught and guided the restaurant team there on ways to better utilise the local produce.

Prior to joining Zhiwa Ling Ascent in early 2017, Chef Dean was head chef at Stonefly Lodge, a 5 star boutique fly fishing lodge in the Moutere Valley, New Zealand.

Chef Dean has relished the opportunity to set up the kitchen at Zhiwa Ling Ascent from scratch. His main goal is to pass on his years of knowledge to staff and students at Zhiwa Ling Ascent so that when he returns to New Zealand the kitchen will continue to operate to a high standard. “The ideal is to have a Bhutanese head chef, so I basically do myself out of a job.”