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- Tuesday, 16 July 2013 05:35 | Written by Matthias Tesi Baur
Awards: Five Star Diamond Award as one of the Best Chefs in the World
Chef Susser has forty seven years’ experience in the global hospitality industry as Executive Chef, Regional Executive Chef, F & B Manager and Culinary Educator, and member of executive committees with some of the most prestigious hospitality operations worldwide, such as Starwood Hotels Int’l, Intercontinental Hotels, Caesar Park Hotels, Avari Towers, Royal Viking Line, and Royal Caribbean cruise lines.
Amongst numerous awards, Chef Susser’ proudest professional moment was when he was awarded the “1997 Five Star Diamond Award ” as one of the Best Chefs in the World.
Chef Susser was senior chef Instructor at Le Cordon Bleu college of culinary arts and was the main creator of the syllabi for all culinary classes. He also started the school’s “cookbook club,” was program chair for the culinary program in English, and successfully implemented and started a Spanish language diploma program both as program chair and teacher. Nominated as Teacher of the Year in 2006 and 2011, Chef Susser is also fluent in three (3) languages with basic proficiency in six (6) additional languages.
1. Chef Susser, you have been building your culinary experience for 47 years. You are a German who has travelled the world and now lives in Florida. What was your motivation to leave Germany and start a career as a chef abroad? Did you want to spread the word about our great German cuisine?!
Hans: I left Germany when I was 19. Coming from a very small village close to Stuttgart, all I desired was to travel and to see the world. I didn’t start a career as a chef because I loved cooking and food. I started that career because it was my ticket to discover the world. My first country to live abroad in was Austria. After Austria, I worked as chef of a cuisse line, which was amazing and unusual for that time. Very quickly I started to love what I do. I think that was the time I truly became a chef!
In the early 90’s after the fall of the Berlin Wall, I returned to Germany and ran a small boutique restaurant in East Germany. I realized that, as much as I loved my home, Germany had become too small of a place for me, and I left again.
2. A good chef should:
a) Know more about people.
b) Know more about ingredients.
For which statement would you vote?
Hans: That entirely depends on the type of restaurant a chef is working in. If you, as a chef, work in a specialized environment, for example, a sushi place, you for sure need to know the specific demands of the people who visit your restaurant. If you work in a more diverse environment, you can add more of your unique style to how to use and cook with ingredients. It also depends on whether you want to run a restaurant for just a couple of years or for your lifetime. The longer you want to run a restaurant business, if you have enough customers to support the new trends you establish or follow, the more you can move on from mainstream trends.
I would say it is foolish not to follow trends, but it is equally foolish to only follow trends. Turning a trend by adding your own style and ingredients to it usually delivers the results your clients demand.
In short, my answer is you need to know the people as well as the ingredients. No chef could be a good chef by ignoring one side.
3. If you had only US$20 to cook a dinner for four friends but could fly anywhere in the world for free to buy your ingredients, to where would you fly, and what ingredients would you buy?
Hans: The place I would fly to is absolutely, for sure, Asia. Asia simply has the biggest selection of fresh and very affordable ingredients in an enormous variety. Imagining the food market of Manila, I could prepare an amazing dinner for my friends by not spending more than $20. That would not be possible in the market in Munich.
I love pasta. The main course would be Asian pasta with some fresh vegetables. As a dessert, I would offer a mix of fresh Asian fruit.
Just in case you offer me a second flight free of charge, my choice would be the Middle East for a second dinner with friends.
4. People say that “the world is getting smaller.” Would you say this is also true for the culinary world, or are there still culinary regions that need to be discovered?
Hans: Yes, the culinary world is getting much smaller than it used to be. When you compare to 15 years ago, we now have much more access to a greater variety of ingredients. Now, with access to the Internet, a chef can get all kinds of information regarding the most unusual ingredients in seconds. That was not possible too long ago.
However, as an individual, you should never stop discovering new culinary trends or cuisines. There is so much out there.
5. What does good food mean to you?
Hans: I love good food! Food always needs to serve the purpose of satisfying one’s culinary craving and not just be a pretty picture. When you go to an upmarket restaurant and the food is presented in a great way but the ingredients are not right, I would not call that good food.
When I have never eaten a dish and feel excited about the new tasting experience I have discovered, I will remember that dish as good food. Equally, when I feel a craving for a dish, it means really that represents good food for me.
Hans, thank you very much for the interview!