When are you happiest at work?
Appreciation and a sense of accomplishment is the strongest driver of happiness. When I receive a positive feedback from the guest about the food, I am the happiest. I am also enthusiastic about trying out new ingredients and creating new recipes.
What trends are you noticing regarding wine and food pairings?
In Germany, food and cocktail pairing culture is prevalent almost everywhere. Personally, I prefer food paired with wine because my cuisines work perfectly well with it. Even when I am going to a restaurant, I always go for a wine-paired menu because I don’t otherwise fully understand the flavours of the dish.
What was your biggest disappointment as a chef?
Things don’t disappoint me easily but sometimes it’s the little things that affect me. For e.g, sometimes I invest a lot on a dish and the same might not connect with the guest. Guests sometimes complain about the food without having any knowledge about the particular cuisine. I understand that they have the right to give an honest feedback, and feedback only helps me grow better as a chef, but the time and effort that has gone into curating a particular dish can be disappointing.
What do you always avoid ordering on a menu?
I avoid eating turtles and horses because I personally love those animals. I also avoid eating Foie gras, which is basically liver of a goose that has been especially fattened by force-feeding them.
Of the dishes you prepare, which one would you never eat yourself? Why?
This is something I will never do because I want to be sure that all the dishes that I prepare are perfect. When I serve something, I need to be fully involved and I can’t do that without tasting and enjoying it myself.
Which is your favourite restaurant? What would you prefer to eat there?
I love going to Michelin-star restaurants and there are a lot of them but during a relatively free day, I like to eat something simple, like a mixed grill platter from a Lebanese restaurant. I love barbeque food and tandooris as well. I have a long list of restaurants I love to visit such as Juhema in Netherlands, Belgium; Alinea in Chicago; Eleven Madison park in New York and there are many restaurants I love to visit even in Germany.
Describe one incident when you messed up a recipe real bad.
There was this time when I was about to make sweet rice for dessert, so I had put the rice with coconut milk and sugar on boil and forgot about it. The rice got burnt but it got burnt with the sugar so it had a roasted taste. I removed the floating coconut milk from top and kept it aside. Later, when we were cleaning the kitchen, I tasted it and surprisingly it was really tasty. The coconut milk with sugar and the smoky flavour of the rice was wonderful.
What is the best recent food trend?
I really liked it when people in Germany started going back to traditional eating and using the more common vegetables of Germany. I also like how people have started becoming more conscious and aware about what they eat and switch to light food.
– Julia Komp, visiting chef to ITC Gardenia, Bengaluru