Establishment Interviewed - Sheraton on the Park, Sydney, AU
Guest Interviewee: Chef Gunnar Muller
Interviewer: Anthony Pezzimenti - IHS Global Alliance
Executive Chef Gunnar Muller, heads Sydney’s award-winning signature restaurant and Sheraton’s legacy – Feast Restaurant. In Australia’s prominent precinct, with a strong reputation, the extraordinary team of 50 plus international culinary experts, has Chef’s team comprising an extensive resume offering a world of flavour, unique dishes and an unmatched culinary experience.
Chef Muller’s passion for cuisine, has been cultivated with his experience from across the seas, including Europe, the United Kingdom and Asia Pacific. Gunnar and cuisine were born for each other, with his apprenticeship marking the beginning of his successful future, at the age of sixteen. And so, it is inevitable Chef leads one of the finest dining establishments in the Pacific.
Coupled with his passion for taste and presentation, Gunnar must try everything once, and ensure the experience he and his team delivers, is one of a visually tantalizing main attraction.
It goes without saying, Chef Gunnar and his team, took first prize in the recent IHS Cool Cube Buffet competition. The aim here was to create awareness of the importance of product versatility and presentation when it comes to inspiration, enticement and delighting your ultimate judge - your guest.
So, we touched base with Chef Gunner to further discover key insight into the success of culinary trends in 2017.
IHS Global Alliance: Right now, everyone wants to know what’s going to be on the lips of the guest in 2017. What insight can you share in regards to culinary trends?
GM: Gunner Muller: In 2017 we will see more and more the trend of pop-up shops and cafes, with fresh, simple, honest and local food. This trend will continue here at the Sheraton on the Park too. In 2016 we have spent a lot of time in reconsidering and restructuring the image of food in the Hotel, particularly its presentation and taste. This will continue in 2017 with the focus on local produce and simplicity, going for quality rather than quantity.
IHS: New trends in culinary trends & creations are popping up all the time. What is, or has been, your favourite to date?
GM: For me this has been and still is the Food Truck scene. What always amazes me about this trend, is the way it has evolved throughout history. What stems from the simple truck includes the many diverse creations, the entertainment matched to define the experience, the look and that simple honest and fantastic food - No concept seems impossible! And the trend is just getting bigger and better across the world. Street food is as a renewed industry bringing unique experiences to all.
IHS: If a guest was to ask you to create a surprise culinary dish for them, what would you create?
GM: It always depends on the occasion. For me, less is always more and basically leaving the products as natural as they are. Tasty, seasonal and appealing in their own beauty. So, keep it simple and add it a modern touch upon presentation.
My favourite cuisine and examples, could include a delicious potato soup, a fantastic steak from the grill, a juicy slow cooked piece of meat from a smoker, a refreshing salad, a simple fried noodle dish, a sashimi fresh off the fisherman’s rope, a fantastic cheese from the Australian highlands - just to name a few! Finally, adding just a few more condiments to complete any of those items and all made from the best local produce available from the land – in my case, it is now Australia.
IHS: The saying – “A Chef is as good as his tools”. How important in your view, is the equipment in terms of presentation and the guest experience?
GM: Equipment is, has been and always will be, an important factor in preparing or presenting a dish. There are five senses to please and vision is definitely one of them.
Leading the cuisine of a five-star hotel in the Sydney CBD, brings with it high expectations, and you need to deliver and WOW people every time. You need to keep yourself progressive in implementing and changing things, to attract and impress your audience at any time. This can only be done with a creative Chef who has the right tools and equipment to combine a new experience. It can be as simple as presenting a Steak on a wooden board, a proper steak knife with the best salt all cooked on a proper seasoned grill, but… most importantly you will need to have all the props.
And most of the properties these days are still suffering by not having the right equipment, and you can tell just by the look at it.
As an establishment who prides itself in buffet and presentation experiences, we always consider the equipment in terms of presentation, as an integral part of completing the guest experience. We love our Cool Cube product from IHS, as it presents a world of possibilities in cuisine and presentation. We just added another one to the live cooking experience!
Pictured Left to Right: Anthony Pezzimenti from IHS Global Alliance and Executive Chef Gunnar Muller from Sheraton on the Park, Sydney
IHS: Where to next in general for the Chef of tomorrow do you think?
GM: Today is all about back to basics and the art of storytelling.
A Chef these days needs to be “complete”. Meaning, a talent behind the stove and a storyteller in front of the guests when he sells his dish.
The younger generation needs to understand that the role of the Chef as such, and in its current stage here in Australia, will not survive if it continues like it is. A huge influence skewing the notion of the modern-day Chef, is TV. Cooking shows are only covering half the truth about the job and are becoming shows which have the ability to destroy our industry. Why? Because it creates a perception where everybody thinks cooking is simple.
Sure, it can be, but …. It is important that a Chef has a solid base of knowledge which can’t be learned from a TV program as such. It takes years to understand and to practice. To be honest a chef’s life is all about learning on a daily basis. The young Chefs think that jumping from one place to another will help them gain more experience. That is basically right, but before all the exciting travelling and trying out new things, the young cooks need to get the cooking basics right. Otherwise they will end up being the one in the corner doing the simple jobs, due to their limited culinary background and the confidence which is needed to succeed in this profession. And this is what we see these days more and more, which is just wrong and gives our trade and profession, such a bad image.
Jump in and acquire a solid foundation of the basics. From the basics, onwards, the doors will open for you to explore new things and gain the experience which is needed to succeed. Don’t worry about jumping in, it will work out fine, as you have the skills to make it work - been there and done that. - Chef Gunner Muller