How did you become interested in cooking? 'It started when I was around 11, watching my mother prepare meals for the family as I did my homework. My mother is a great cook. I started learning how to bake and was interested in the ingredients and process. Then at 15, during a school break, I did an internship at a restaurant and fell in love with the kitchen.'
Why is German cuisine relatively unpopular internationally? 'German food is rustic and probably less popular globally because it has so many pork dishes. Although it's not refined, it does have variety. It's very regional and seasonal and geared towards using home-grown produce. Actually, there are many Michelin-starred restaurants in Germany.'
What have you learned while coming through the ranks? 'My stints at Michelin-starred restaurants had a tremendous influence in my early years. I learned to define and refine elegant presentation, to develop a finer palate, to concentrate on the details during cooking - to do all these things perfectly correctly. I also learned how to get the best produce possible and to use it well.'
You worked for three years in Delhi - what do you think of Indian cuisine? 'The Indian culture is very rich and extremely interesting. In their cuisine, they use lots of different spices. Each region of India uses different ingredients and has its own way of cooking. It takes years of practice to be able to measure spices just by using your hands. They have so many vegetarian dishes, it's amazing.'
What about the food in Hong Kong? 'My first priority is to understand Cantonese cuisine and the cooking philosophy that goes with it. I want to visit the local wet markets to learn about the produce and I need to get acquainted with Hong Kong diners so I can recognise their tastes. Another major attraction is sampling other iconic restaurants in this city.'
What culinary direction are you planning for the Grand Hyatt? 'There's not much I need to fix but I want to take it forward - come up with new concepts to ensure we remain trendsetters. I need to find my space on the team and achieve consistent quality.'