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 culinary world.
Now he arrived in India. Christiaan 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 and first place in the preliminary round of the Rudolf Achenbach prize 2015. Where did the passion 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. At the time, I found it very attractive to be 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 that I traveled alone far away and was responsible for myself. From the moment I came back from Shanghai, I knew that I really wanted to do a cooking education.
Working as a cook allows you to work anywhere and express yourself through your work. I started my apprenticeship at Käfer in 2012. I’ve always loved working under pressure and participating in competitions.
Then you worked as a Demi Chef de Partie in the Michelin 2-star restaurant Esszimmer in the BMW Welt. How could you develop and define your own style in such a short time?
To this day I do not believe that I have really found my own style. It’s always a search – through social media, internships, etc. And of course, I have taken over my kitchen philosophy from Mr. Bräuer, who is still a great mentor to me. Mr. Bräuer taught me always to cook intuitively.
In 2016 you became Chef de Partie in the restaurant Moments at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Barcelona. What was the motivation for the change? What did you want to learn? What experiences have you made which you still consider to be very valuable today?
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 leave your comfort zones. You experience new things, get rid of old habits and replace them with new ones. You meet inspiring chefs. That makes you curious!
This first step, however, was much more difficult than I thought. Working in a foreign country for the first time – if you do not speak the language – needs a lot of patience. During that time I learned so much about myself, not only as a cook, but also as a person.
Then you worked as Chef de Partie in the restaurant La Castanya – with a lot of Spanish and Catalan cuisine. What was new for you? And what did you learn that helps you today?
La Castanya was a very popular tapas bar in the heart of Barcelona. I cooked and served 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 use small brushes, fire and nitrogen to amaze the guests.
Barcelona – What makes the food scene so unique and special?
Barcelona has a very active and young food scene. It offers an amazing selection of Latin American and Spanish dishes, creative and always experimental.
Then you worked as Chef de Partie in the renowned 3-star restaurant The Fat Duck. How does someone get in there? Is one recruited? Or do you 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. I was always impressed by The Fat Duck. One day I e-mailed my CV to England and three days later came an answer as to whether I wanted to come to a trial cooking.
“As soon as you put on the apron from one of the world’s best restaurants, you get a dopamine boost.” – Christiaan Stoop
The standards of proprietor and chef Heston Blumenthal are very high. Do you have the freedom to bring in new and fresh ideas in this position?
Such a restaurant works only according to predetermined rules and is of course very well defined. It teaches a chef discipline and perseverance. One learns this only by a certain pressure and demand, whereby the way to perfection can be guaranteed.
If you do not understand that, you’re in the wrong place in The Fat Duck. Still, there was the opportunity to introduce your own ideas with projects like “dish of the month” “Bread Project”, 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. Does this put you under pressure as a cook? And if so, can one convert this pressure as a cook into positive energy?
Every day you work up to 18 hours, but the positive energy comes from alone. As soon as you put on the apron from one of the world’s best restaurants, you get a dopamine boost. The team and the atmosphere are also unique. You motivate each other to reach the limit and 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 have been working as a sous chef at the hotel The Oberoi, New Delhi. When I was offered the position in India, I was really looking forward to the Indian cuisine. It’s one of the most underrated cuisines in the world, in my opinion.
No country brings together such diversity and different religions. This is also reflected in the food and culinary scene. Whether you eat Mimos in the north of India, or crispy Dosas in the south of India. The cuisine is very diverse.
Your plans in India: What are your goals and ambitions in the restaurant threesixty° at The Oberoi, New Delhi?
The restaurant threesixty° offers a worldwide cuisine. Whether it’s sushi from Japan, pasta from Italy or ceviche from Peru. Personally, I want to show my experiences and creativity through my own menus.
I want to clarify through the dishes where I learned and lived. Whether it’s a Gazpacho Andaluz, or a simple braised lamb shoulder with canned red cabbage. I want to encourage people to travel and discover new cultures.
Good luck, Christiaan, and thank you for the insights into your work!