Tobias Unger – Executive Chef with 17 years of an international chef career. Read his exciting story here. 

Today you are Executive Chef with 17 years of an international chef career. When did all start? What drove you to become a chef?

I started when I was 15 Year old. I Did finish 9 Years of my School. Then I had a choice either going back to school or go to Work, I choose work. I did a bit of cooking in school and thought its easy, so I had to bake a Cake a Black Forrest cake and do some small canapes for the Guest. As well we had to choose a Thema ( Mothers day) I did very well at the baking and got the best result in the class. So I said ok then I will choose this to make an Apprentice at the Hotel Restaurant Sonne in Talheim a small Family Owned Hotel and Restaurant. Where I had an Apprentice Ship for 3 Years.

Which cooking school did you visit?

I visit the Vocational School Hotel und Gaststätten Gewerbe in the Paul-Kerstensteiner Strasse Bad Überkingen (Germany).

With lots of internationals stations as chef, what is still the most valuable learning for you out of the German chef school system?

I have to say the Basic of Cooking, that’s what you mainly learn and that’s what they focus on.

At the beginning of your chef career you worked at the Le Meridien Dom Hotel in Cologne, Germany. What was your greatest learning out of this time?

The Team during that Time was just Amazing so many young chefs including myself where so hungry to learn every Day, as well the Team worked without much talking we know and knew what to do when its busy as well during the Mice au place time. The right Mix of People, eager to learn more every Day as well fun.

After a chef position ate the Arthotel in Heidelberg, you started to work as demi chef de partie for the Hyatt Regency in Dubai. Hand on hard: was it a tough start for you in Dubai?

It was very Taff, especially when you don’t speak the Language or dont speak English as i never thought when would I use my School English. Yeah a new Country, new Culture, different Religion and the way you live was not the same as at Home.

What was the hardest lesson for you as a young chef in Dubai?

Not speaking the Language well neither English or Arabic. In Dubai you are just a small Chef you have to work hard to get promoted and in Dubai they don’t care if you are from Europe or somewhere else all are fighting for a better position.

Within a short time period you made a career in Dubai by joining the Shangri La and later the Dubai marina yacht club. What is the key of being successful as chef in Dubai?

Work harder and better then the others. Do your Job because you like to do it not only because it pays you Money. Do your Job with your Heart. Never give up learning, being open minded.

Dubai’s chef teams are very international. What was your creates learning out of this international team work?

To learn the different Cultures and their backgrounds especially in cooking.

From Dubai to Kuwait as operations sous chef of the Sheraton Kuwait. In what sense was Kuwait different from Dubai, to work as a chef?

In the Sense of peoples was never Trained. It was as well the age of the Chefs there are 70% of the staff from 1960 from the first day of opening. It was difficult to train them as they don’t want to learn as well they only cooked with Convenience Products. Very difficult to change their mind-set and change their attitude in the way of cooking, still cook the same as 30 Years ago.

With the Shangri La Group you have been promoted to China as Executive Chef. What was your first impression of working as chef in China?

Whaoo Amazing. It was so impressive in all ways, Food, cooking, Buffets, Banquets all of it. It is just amazing the competition of the Hotels and Restaurants, the different Food concepts in the City.

Did you have some time to get closer to the secretes of the Chinese kitchen?

There was not much Time but also the Language because everything is in Chinese.

Which Chinese receipts/ dishes do you still cook today?

Sweet Sour Chicken.

Still with Shangri La, as Executive Chef to the Philippines in 2015: What have been your learning out of the Philippines kitchen?

The Cuisine in the Philippines have a lot of different influence from Spain, Portugal, Asia, USA it need to have Rice at all times in every Dish. They use a lot of vinegar in there Food.

How would you describe your own culinary line today?

I would say a bit of everything European basic with influence from all the country’s I lived in.

With your German base, the middle east and Asian experiences; do you have any personal/ favourite fusion dishes?

I love to have a bit of Foie grass and Miso or Lobster and Vanilla this are just amazing combinations. I eat so many different Dishes but they are all juts amazing in they own way it is very difficult to say what is the best.

As Executive Chef you worked for the Crystal Cruise. The cruise chef job is though and requires lots of self-discipline. What was your creates learning out of this time?

Living and working in a very small space as well forecast for 2 weeks ahead.

Leading an chef team of different nations sounds great, but is not always easy due to different cultural backgrounds. How do you lead such international stuff successfully?

Make sure you listen to your Staff. Go through all recipes with them and cook the Food to make sure they follow the standard.

Can you share some of your actual recipes with us?

A lot came together over the last Year. A recipe is only a guideline for a great Chef but every one wants to put his own little touch to it.

Any place in the world you would like to take a chef job in the future?

Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Australia, USA, Canada, China.

Thank you for your time.