Lorenz Raich – Is the Head Chef at Chef´s Table by Chef Stephan in Singapore.
Lorenz Raich is the Head Chef at Chef´s Table by Chef Stephan in Singapore. He has spent 15 years in the culinary scene and gives us a unique insight. Read his exciting story here.
With 15 years in the culinary world, experienced in different areas such as Michelin Star kitchen, Fine Dining Restaurants, Banquet & Casual Restaurants; you work today as Head Chef at Chef´s Table by Chef Stephan in Singapore. Where did you journey as chef started? Why did you become a chef?
Most of the chefs telling the story of being together in the kitchen with their grandmothers, growing up next to the stove and learning all the basics at home. For me it was a bit different. Eating was always a passion and part of my life but I remember especially the big Christmas buffet at the Hotel of a cousin of my father in a famous Tyrolean skiing area. After I started cooking professional my mother remembered me on this days how my eyes have been shining when I saw the chefs putting all these delicious items on the table with their big cooking hats. Maybe this was in the young age of 7 years my first step into the culinary world.
Early in your chef career, you worked in several Michelin stared kitchens. What made it so special for you?
I was lucky to get the chance during my apprentice ship to learn mostly all important basics and to work already at this young stage of my chef life with premium ingredients. This was fundamental to me to be brave enough to start to work in one of the best kitchens of Austria at this time. It was very different to my apprentice ship to work in a kitchen with 15 chefs for only 30 guests a night. The expenditure was immense, not only about the food, everything was special at this place and executed with fullest passion.
Under Christoph Zangerl you learned to lead a kitchen brigade of 50 kitchen staff across 7 restaurants, serving up to 650 guests a day. What is the secrete to keep the quality at such large operations?
The secret at this time was a single person who guided us. Christoph was not only an Executive Chef, he was a leader and mentor to all of us. He was the one who worked hardest all day long, every single piece of fish and meat went through his hands. When it came to quality, there were no excuses allowed. I would say the best example for the success was the team itself, it was not always easy for us to work with this pressure but we all stayed a couple of years together till the day came and Christoph Zangerl resigned.
In 2015 you moved to Singapore; why?
There was a point in my life where I was thinking about what’s coming next. I had good opportunities at home but I knew every job will end up being the same. So I was hungry and excited to explore something new. Singapore was the first big city I ever visited in Asia ten years ago and I took the chance to spent one month in the kitchen of Ryan Clifts Tippling Club as a Stagiere in 2014. At this time I knew Singapore will be my next Challenge.
What was your first culinary impression of Singapore?
Singapore is a melting pot for so many cultures and it’s incredibly to see all of this amazing different cuisines on a small Island like here. I have been to Asia already a couple of times before I moved here but it was still exciting and new for me to explore the varied flavours of Malay, Indian and of course Chinese cuisine.
Singaporeans are proud of their Hawker culture but it seems sometimes not fair that this kind of food has to be always cheap. I think for the future it would it be the right way to spend a few more dollars on the daily meal to make it easier to the owners of the stalls to afford a better quality of ingredients.
At the Chef’s Table by Chef Stephan Zoisl, Stephan and you showcases the best seasonal ingredients. What does seasonal mean in tropical Singapore?
Generally we allow all ingredients with a good quality in our kitchen. We follow the seasons mainly from Europe but also from Australia. Nowadays you can get almost everything everywhere in a good quality but it’s important for us to use for example white Asparagus only in this short time when it’s in season in Europe.
But it’s also interesting to see what’s happening in Singapore and around. There is no point anymore to buy microgreens from Holland if you can get it locally grown in a very good quality and delivered daily fresh to your kitchen.
You offer a selection of 28 key ingredients, to give your diners a clearer picture of the daily used produce. What is the concept behind?
We call our cuisine Western Omakase. That means we take the Japanese culture of omakase to serve our customers the daily freshest ingredients paired with modern European cuisine. The roster of 28 ingredients is to give our guests an idea about our products and the chance to tell us whatever they don’t want to eat out of this list.
Another goal is, not to serve your guests the exact dish twice – no signature dishes, no repetition. Can you explain it?
We want to create for our guests every time when they come back a new experience. Of course we are using many times the same ingredient but we change the dishes, cuts of meat, way of preparation and textures latest after 2 weeks.
What is your todays personal culinary line/style?
Sustainability is nowadays I think the most important thing what we chefs have to take care of. We try to make lesser waste and to use all trimmings for stocks and so on.
And the less known vegetables?
The variety of vegetables from Japan is unbelievable and still surprising what they offer in the different seasons. Hasu Imo (Elephant plant) gives an amazing texture to any dish with a very light taste and Nanohana is a kind of young Broccoli with an sweet taste in different preparations.
Your latest dish?
….is not existing anymore. NO signature, NO repetition 😉
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