SEBASTIAN THURMAYR – SOUS CHEF IN ITALY WITH ROOTS IN MUNICH
Sebastian Thurmayr currently works as a Sous Chef in Italy, however you can find his roots in the Bavarian capital. Would you like to know what drew him to Italy? Then join us as we bring you another fantastic journey of a wonderful chef.
You completed your apprenticeship as a chef in the Four Seasons Kempinski in Munich. How much of an impact did this classical cooking education in such a renowned hotel have on you afterwards?
The classical cooking apprenticeship in The Four Seasons Kempinski, Munich was, and still is very important to me. With them, I could more than just successfully complete my culinary studies but also learn everything that goes on in the real kitchen, with the service or in gastronomy in general. I was allowed to live out my passion for cooking in a variety of different kitchens and posts. Everyone there would explain and describe anything important I wanted to know with expertise and calmness. I’ve experienced most everything from the traditional to the more modern cooking styles. I realized pretty early on that working as a chef was more than just having fun but the joy and fun of cooking is the cornerstone of a great kitchen for me today. As I ended up working in Star restaurants, I finally realized that cooking is not a job but a passion that I do with a love, so long as it lets me.
Today we can find you working as chef entremetier at the Turmbach Restaurant in Südtirol near Bolzano. The are is lovely, but in comparison to Munich and for a young person like yourself it seems a bit removed from the hot spots. What was the reason for this change?
After my time in Munich I wanted to broaden my horizons, ultimately through a variety of jobs around the world. For my first stop I decided on a position in South Tirol, a cuisine that was too foriegn for me but where I could learn a lot more before I went abroad. I wanted to get to know the Southern Tyrol cuisine, and as such, the idea of it being “away from hot spots” never was a factor. The profession in itself guides me, and even in the area around me there are so many restaurants that I can visit, to get inspiration and pick up ideas.
The Landgasthof restaurant Bad Turmbach is widely known for its quality and traditional cuisine. So the question is, what spurred a young chef such as yourself to apply your craft here? Do you have plans of revolution in the kitchen? 😊
In my view, quality cuisine should be known in all the restaurants in the world and not just restaurant Bad Turmbach because the nuts and bolts of a great kitchen are its high-quality products and raw ingredients which allow for the best results and an even better end product. For myself, as a young chef it was important for my career at the beginning to learn the traditional and hone the skills that were taught to me. Afterwards, I can combine these traditional styles, unique cuisines with more modern lines. I don’t have any grand plans for a kitchen revolution at the moment. It’s first and foremost important to me despite the desperate shortage of workers to hang onto the amount of gourmet kitchens we have, keep continuously impressing the guests with new and unexpected surprises and hopefully therefore inspiring more young people into joining the profession.
The specialties of the Landgasthof Restaurant Bad Turmbach are fresh trout, pasta made in-house and various desserts prepared with loving care. As a young chef with new interpretations, what are you bringing to the mix?
As a young chef I always contribute my own and new creations as much as is possible. In my opinion the term “A bit innovative” is a bit out of place in the kitchen. For me, cooking is one of the most creative fields available. You can create breathtaking and innovative things from simple ingredients and still maintain tradition. I’m always thinking about new dishes, combinations or ideas that are interesting to me. If these ideas end up on the menu always depends on how much they fit.
In gastronomy we can see a lot of trends, for example, organic, regional etc. What are some important developments in gastronomy for you as a young chef?
It is very important to cook with regional ingredients and even more so seasonally. You can find amazing and unique products all over the world which people should treasure and work with in the respective area. It doesn’t make much sense to me to ship bulk loads of product across the world when the best product is sitting right in front of your kitchen door. It affects not only the taste and quality, but also the environment. As well, it’s always nice to see when things promote sustainability and show people what amazing foods are right in front of their noses. It is unfortunate that not everybody understands they can’t get sole from the ocean while they are in Upper Bavaria and “only” can have fresh caught trout.
Which tools and ingredients are always by your side?
For ingredients I rely on regional and seasonal products as much as possible. Since I am am open for pretty much everything, the guests are happy with the new stuff coming out. I couldn’t do without our pasta machine, and my knife is pretty much everything to me.
How important is the team to you?
The kitchen team is very important. It all hinges on good communication and a sort of choreography, so everything functions smoothly. It’s also important that everyone helps and supports each other. The mood and the atmosphere is also determined by the team you have, but the best part is you always have more ideas with a team than by yourself.
What values count for you while working in the kitchen?
Cleanliness and order are the most important factors while working in the kitchen. Right next to teamwork and the passion to learn, precision and accuracy are very important. In general it is hard to focus on specific values because there are so many that are important to the kitchen.
Where would you like to travel as a chef?
I don’t have any specific places at the moment. There are so many wonderful cuisines, traditions and cultures. You can only take in a fraction. Let me get back to you on some of these but a destination in Asia would definitely be interesting and important.
What is the best street food in your opinion?
I don’t think there is a “best street food”. There are so many ways to present street food in different ways. The best street food for me is traditional but with a new interpretation that surprises and impresses the customers.
An innovative chef needs honest feedback, where do you find that?
Feedback is very important for an innovative chef. I think it’s always important that the chef can go to the table of the guest and get direct feedback and also clarify ideas for better understanding. There are additionally many other ways to get feedback from guests, which I am not a big fan of. Of course a constructive conversation with a colleague is always a big help.
How did you start out as a chef? Which culinary school?
I work at the moment as a Sous Chef in Italy. I completed my culinary education in Munich and the parallel occupation studies with the highest marks. I started earlier with cooking in general, and in my high school breaks would work in kitchens, so I discovered my love for cooking early on.
What will you never forget from your first year as a chef?
I will always remember my first year as a chef. There are so many beautiful moments that I always reflect on. It was amazing to me how creative and versatile the kitchen could be and for other young people as well. So many moments, and too many to list.
A lot of careers begin with hard times, where people sometimes think about giving up. Were there such times for you ? If so, how did you overcome those moments and what would you do differently today?
Definitely there were hard moments in my career where I was thinking about what would be the best for me. However, I never thought about giving up. Since my career is still young, I can’t really say what I would do differently. Everything has gone pretty good up till now.
Which situations have helped you develop the most as a chef?
What has helped the most was the stressful situations during service.I could really learn a lot in those situations. Learning the other stuff was just kind of picked up on the way. The stress is just part of it and you have to learn how to deal with it. The rest comes yourself, as long as you have the passion and dedication.
What is the best and worst aspect of being a professional chef? How does the job change a person?
There are a lot of good aspects, but I find the creative aspect to be the best. As a professional chef there are no limits and you can let off steam at all moments, it’s also a privilege to be allowed to work with such wonderful products direct from nature. The hardest job for a chef is to bring work and daily life under one umbrella. It’s not very easy due to the long and hard working hours. How the job changes people, they can decide themselves. It depends on how you feel about your job and above all, what you do.
Thanks so much Sebastian for your time, and we wish you success for the future!
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