HYDERABAD: For someone who has been cooking from his teenage years and a for a food lover, a career spanning 30 years in the restaurant and leisure industry is not surprising. Chef Winkelmann, who for the last 14 years has been with Chili’s is currently responsible for Europe, Middle East, North Africa and Asia, opening the first Chili’s in Belfast, Russia, Jordan, Portugal, Turkey, Singapore, India, Brazil, Colombia and next year in Tunisia – while being based in the UK. While he has been the brain behind those yummy south western rolls and steak at their restaurant in Banjara Hills, the Chef in a candid chat reveals his love for playing guitar, golf, football and of course, food.
How did you get into the food industry?
From my love of food I started working in kitchens when I was 18 years old.
How difficult is it to cater to Indian customers?
I am Global Culinary support and not responsible for business development. It is not difficult to cater to Indian markets at all, everyone from around the world love Chili’s food, it’s like no place else!
Have you customised Chili’s menu to suit Hyderabadi palate?
There are no specific customisations for Hyderabad but the vegetarian selection within the menu is specific to India.
Your favourite food at Chili’s.
A lot of people like to be in control of what they eat. How do you get them to try new delicacies?
Our food is fresh that you can see as well as taste. Most people ‘eat with their eyes’ and all food looks awesome and sharable.
What is the dish you are never tired of making?
Your signature dish.
What is your comfort food, and what do you cook at home for your family?
Macaroni and cheese and Sunday roast dinners are a family tradition.
If you were to take off your chef’s apron and try something else professionally, what would it be?
Musician, I love playing the guitar (I have seven).
The most under-appreciated ingredient that you are a fan of?
Orzo is always the least favoured pasta but the best in my opinion.
A lot of chefs have a ritual after a long shift. What is yours?
A cold glass of beer and then sleep!
Your culinary philosophy.
Passion, Passion, Passion!