Josef Gallenberger – Executive Sous Chef at Hugo’s at the Hyatt Regency Hong Kong
Josef Gallenberger is Executive Sous Chef at Hugo’s at the Hyatt Regency Hong Kong, Tsim Sha Tsui. He started out in kitchens in Germany before taking up his role at Hugo’s two years ago.
We chat to Chef Josef about cooking classic European in Hong Kong and growing environmental consciousness in diners.
Please tell us a little about your training and background.
I began my professional training in 2004 in local hotels, where I enhanced my foundation in food preparation. I completed a three-year training course at the Kempinski Hotel Airport Munich, and was trained in all major parts of the kitchen. I specialised in traditional French and European cooking with a modern influence. After working for, and learning from, chefs in some of the best hotels and fine dining restaurants from Frankfurt to the Alps, I have curated my own regional cooking style.
Tell us more about your style.
I would describe my cooking style as fresh, young, modern, seasonal and regional, with a foundation in French and European Cuisine. But the key essence is always to use the best and freshest ingredients.
Has your cooking style changed over the years, perhaps through influence of working in Germany and Hong Kong?
I learned from chefs in many different kitchens, and equipped myself with the best skills and knowledge from each of these chefs. I have created my own cooking style with the infusion of these different skill sets and knowledge. I always love learning the different cooking techniques of different countries and cultures. Having been in Hong Kong for two years now, this wonderful city has definitely had a lot of impact on my cooking style, as well.
Do you find the kitchens in Hong Kong different from those in Germany, in any way?
There are many aspects in which the kitchens in Europe are different from those in Hong Kong. For example, in Europe, dishes often incorporate many more seasonal ingredients.
At the same time, guests’ dining preferences can be very different across the continents. This, of course, affects a kitchen’s style. For example, guests from Hong Kong prefer grain-fed US beef, rather than the grass-fed European beef, which has a slighter tougher texture.
How would you describe the menu at Hugo’s?
Hugo’s menu is quite a traditional classic menu in which you can also find some modern dishes. But the main focus is classic French and European cooking techniques complemented by the restaurant’s iconic service – tableside preparation of dishes such as lobster bisque, caesar salad, steak tartare, etc.
You’ve been at Hugo’s for two years, have you changed the menu in any way?
Yes, of course. We change some of our a la carte menu items once a year, while we have four new promotional menus, a wine dinner set menu, as well as festive set menus for Valentine’s Day and Christmas, and so on.
Our upcoming highlighted project will be Hugo’s 50th Anniversary Menu, which we will be rolling out by early October and will run till end of November. We are going to present some of Hugo’s old classic dishes and new dishes, for example our pigeon consommé under a puff pastry dome and pheasant souvarov.
What are some of the more unusual ingredients you use?
I would not say we use unusual ingredients, but we always try to find different raw ingredients that have not been used in Hugo’s before, and are new and interesting to our guests. For example, simple vegetables like oca root from South America paired with special meat and seafood, like our L’Etoile oysters from France. The most important thing is good quality.
Have you seen Hong Kong’s food scene change in any way over the last couple of years?
Yes, environmental consciousness has definitely had some impact on the Hong Kong dining scene recently. Some guests now look for sustainable seafood options and vegan meat.
Thank you, Chef Josef, and all the best from us here at Cook Concern. Please also find his new recipe here.
Are you an ambitious cook with a desire for a fulfilling career? Are you interested in working for Hyatt hotels? Check our vacancies and send us your application at https://careers.hyatt.com/en-US/careers.
Hugo’s originally opened in 1969 and was reincarnated at the Hyatt Regency Hong Kong, Tsim Sha Tsui. It maintains an atmosphere of classic Europe through its decor, with plenty of warm wood, ornate mirrors and chandeliers, and even a suit of armour, as well as its menu of fine European cuisine with a modern touch, often served tableside on Christofle hors d’oeuvres and dessert trolleys. The show kitchen features an open grill and there is a 12-seat dining room for private gatherings.