Heiko Reichel

The new head chef at the Hyatt Regency Birmingham tells us his story, from starting out in a small hometown restaurant to touring the world

Tell me about your cooking

My style is simple but tasty. You don’t have to use expensive products, as long as they’re fresh and seasonal. I also don’t believe in there being too many flavours or ingredients on the plate.

Describe your perfect meal

The perfect meal needs the right people to be around the table with you. The last perfect meal I had was at the end of last year in a restaurant in Hamburg called “Kuechenwerkstatt”. I dined with ten friends for seven hours and we had 16 courses, four different wines and finished off with cognac and cigars.

How did you become a chef?

I never had plans to become anything else. As a child I was always in the kitchen seeing how others cooked. I trained in a small restaurant in my home town with an old school chef. It was tough but I learned a lot from him and we are still in touch. After three years he arranged for me to take a job in Berlin with a chef who was one of his old students. After two years in Berlin I began to travel, working in Norway, the UK, UAE, Russia and Jordan. I take influences from everywhere I have worked but I know where my roots are.

What do you eat when at home?

It depends on my mood. Salads are always good and easy to prepare and a nice dish during working days. I like to cook when we have guests at home. It can be pasta, BBQs during summer, seafood – all sorts really.

Who’s the best chef in the world and why?

And who’s the best in Brum? I think it’s HaraldWohlfahrt. I actually don’t care much about Michelin stars, but he has retained his for over 20 years which means he is brilliantly consistent. Furthermore, I like the fact he is never on TV cooking shows. He made a very true and honest statement: “If I’m on TV shows five days a week, who is cooking my three star food?” The best restaurant, concept and food I’ve had so far in Birmingham has been Fleet Street Kitchen where the executive chef is SteveWakeman.

Is the customer always right?

Yes of course.

What’s the best thing about being a chef?

To have an international career was always a big plus point for me. I also love the creative aspect and the chance to discover and study. I still learn something new every day.

What’s the worst thing about being a chef?

There is nothing wrong with it, it’s interesting and creative job. But if you don’t have passion and like to work from 9-5 Monday to Friday, and want to spend public holidays with friends and family then don’t go for it.

If you weren’t a chef, what would you be?

Maybe a stockbroker in New York, I think that I could like that.

What do you recommend from this evening’s menu?

Wait for my new menu, it’s being launched this month!

Heiko’s special recipe for slow roasted rump of lamb, butter beans, tomato, leeks, and herbs:

Ingredients

  • Four rumps of lamb
  • 300g butter beans
  • One carrot, onion and stick of celery
  • 1.5 l chicken stock
  • 200ml cream
  • 5g of butter
  • 200gs of chopped leek
  • 100gs shallots

Method

Season four rumps of lamb with sea salt, black cracked pepper and sear in a frying pan until golden brown all over. Set the oven temperature at 100 celsius and roast for about 35 minutes. Soak the butter beans overnight and then boil them in chicken stock until soft along 100g cubes of carrots, onion and celery. Drain the beans and remove the vegetables. Cut shallots and leek into fine cubes and sauté with butter in a pan. Then add the beans and the cream. Reduce the stew until it has a nice consistency. Season with salt pepper and add the cold butter.

For the tomato chutney: 1kg tomatoes, 100g diced onions, 100g sugar, 20g salt, 400g malt vinegar, three bay leaves, 5g garlic, 5g sliced chilly. Peel the tomatoes and remove the seeds and then put all ingredients in a pot and simmer for four hours.

HYATT REGENCY Birmingham, 2 Bridge Street, Birmingham B1 2JZ tel 0121 632 1664 www.birmingham.regency.hyatt.com