CHRISTIAAN STOOP – ESSZIMMER | THE FAT DUCK | OBEROI NEW DELHI
From the restaurant “Esszimmer” in Munich to the restaurant “Moments” in Barcelona to the Michelin-starred restaurant “The Fat Duck”. Christiaan Stoop has traveled the world culinary.
Now he arrived in India. Christian Stoop works as a sous chef at the 5-star hotel The Oberoi, New Delhi (restaurant “threesixty°”).
You started your career with pretty high standards and achievements – with an apprenticeship at Feinkost Käfer und First place in the preliminary round for the Rudolf Achenbach prize 2015. Where did the early love and the ambition to become a chef come from?
At the age of 15 I was able to grab my first kitchen experience at a local Italian restaurant as well as at Herrn Schuhbeck in Munich. I found it very exciting at the time that I was allowed to be so creative at work. When I was 17 I went to Shanghai for a cooking workshop to learn all about how to make Dim Sum. It was the first time in my life I had to travel alone and be responsible for myself. It was the moment when I returned from Shanghai when I knew, definitely, I wanted to do a culinary apprenticeship.
The profession in itself makes it possible to work everywhere and enables you to express yourself through your work. I started my apprenticeship at Käfer in 2012. I’ve always loved working under pressure and participating in competitions.
Without a break it went on as Demi Chef de Partie in the 2-Star Michelin restaurant Esszimmer in the BMW World. How were you able to develop and define your own style in such a short time?
Even up until today I don’t think I have really found my own style. It’s always a search though, through social media, Internships and of course I took on my kitchen philosophy from Herrn Bräuer who is still a great mentor to me. Herr Bräuer still tells me, always cook from your stomach.
In 2016 you switched to Chef de Partie in Restaurant Moments at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Barcelona. What was the motivation behind the change? What did you want to learn, and what did you take away from that time you found valuable?
As already mentioned, I already knew that I did not just want to work in Germany. I had the desire to learn a lot about other cultures, and in doing so, you become much more open and have to go outside your comfort zones. You experience new things, get rid of old habits and replace them with new ones. You meet new and inspirational cuisine. That tends to make someone very curious! However, that first step was a lot harder than I thought. Working for the first time in a foreign country, if you don’t speak the language, it takes a lot of patience. I learned so much about myself during these times, not only as a Chef, but about me as a person.
Following that, you worked as Chef de Partie at the Restaurant La Castanya, even deeper into Catalan and Spanish cuisine. What was new for you and what did you learn which helps you to this day?
La Castanya was a very popular Tapas bar in the heart of Barcelona. I cooked and described dishes right in front of the guests. I was able to improve my language abilities. It was quick dishes, which nevertheless had character and personality. But above all, they were very creative. We used small brushes, fire and nitrogen to amaze the guests.
Barcelona: What makes the food scene there so unique and special?
Barcelona has a very active and young food scene. It offers an amazing array of Latin American and Spanish dishes which is creative and always experimenting.
Then came the change as Chef de Partie in the renowned 3-Star restaurant The Fat Duck. How does someone get in there? Are you recruited or just apply?
I was always impressed by “The Fat Duck”. One day I just sent off my CV via Email to England and three days later came an answer, if I would like to come by for a trial cooking.
“The moment you put on an apron from one of the world’s best restaurants you get a dopamine boost!” – Christiaan Stoop
The high standards from the restaurant and kitchen chef Heston Blumenthal are very strict. In this chef position do you have the freedom to bring in new and fresh ideas?
A restaurant like that is set by predetermined rules and also very well-defined. It teaches a chef discipline and perseverance. You learn certain things through specific pressures and demands, and through that perfection can be found. For those who cannot understand that, the Fat Duck is the wrong place to work. Still, there was the opportunity to introduce your own ideas with our “dish of the month” or “Bread Projects” , where each Chef de Partie has to introduce his signature dish or bread.
The Fat Duck has 3 stars, 42 seats, over 80 employees including over 30 Chefs. Do you put yourself under pressure as a Chef, and if so can one channel that into a positive energy and drive?
Every day you work up to 18 hours, so any positive energy you need to find from yourself. The moment you put on an apron from one of the worlds best restaurants you get a dopamine boost. The team and the atmosphere are also unique. You motivate each other as a team to the limits and then grow beyond that.
“I want to encourage people to travel and discover new cultures!” – Christiaan Stoop
Which cuisine or cooking techniques in the world would you like to know more about?
Since March of this year I’ve worked as a Sous Chef in The Oberoi, New Delhi. As I was offered the position in India I really looked forward to the Indian cuisine and it’s one of the most underrated cuisines in the world today, in my opinion. No country brings together such diversity and different religions which is also reflected in the culinary scene. Whether you eat Mimos in north India or crispy Dosas in south India it is always very divers.
Your plans for India: What are your goals and ambitions for the restaurant “threesixty°” in the Oberoi New Delhi?
The “threesixty°” restaurant offers a world wide array of food. Whether it’s sushi from Japan, pasta from Italy or Ceviche from Peru. Personally, I want to show my creativity and personality through my own menus. I want to bring across through my dishes what I have learned and experienced, be it a Gazpacho Andaluz or a simple braised Lamb shoulder with Red Cabbage. I want so much, that people travel and discover new cultures.
Good luck, Christiaan, and thank you for the insights into your work!