Where are chefs finding inspiration for their food? What cooking trends and technologies have been inspiring them recently? How far they come in their quest for sustainability? Our monthly Winnow Chef's Table series we will bring you interviews with chefs from all over the world who share some insight into their culinary origins and philosophies.
In our fifth edition of the monthly Chef's Table, Michael Schauss, Executive Chef at Novotel Manila
Araneta Center shares his inspiration to become a chef and much more.
Graduating as Master of Culinary Art in Germany and Master in Hotel Management from Cornell University, USA, Chef Michael brings over 29 years of culinary experience to Novotel Manila Araneta Center. His previous assignments also include Kempinski Hotels in Dalian and Amman, Swissôtel Grand Efes in Izmir and the Semiramis InterContinental in Cairo.
- What inspired you to become a chef?
My mother was my main inspiration. When I was young she used to cook and bake great dishes for me. My favourites were her Christmas goodies, roasted rabbit and potato dumplings.
- Where and how were you trained?
I started my apprenticeship at a restaurant in Herbon, Germany and after that I had my examination to be a Chef at the Chamber of Commerce in Dillenburg. There was a time that I had to juggle being a sous chef, getting my master’s degree from The Chamber of Commerce in Frankfurt and taking the examination marker for the culinary Olympics.
- What challenges did you face when you decided to cut waste from your kitchen?
My general manager had really high expectations regarding this matter but the process wasn’t fast enough.
- How does Winnow help you in your daily operations?
When we started using Winnow in the kitchen there was a big improvement in my team. They felt more responsible and understood the importance of refilling the right quantity at our buffet.
- What initiatives have you implemented based on the data from Winnow’s reporting?
I ensure that all food containers are of efficient size to minimize the amount of leftovers and to reduce food waste. Plus, dishes like sushi and pizza are done a la minute during the last hour of every buffet.
- How do you think technology will have an impact upon how customers engage with the stories of the food, the chef, and the restaurant?
In terms of back of the house, technology make things consistent, faster and efficient. It can help the kitchen produce the right quantity needed without compromising the quality.
- What do you do to stay current on new industry trends?
I try to be observant and open to new ideas. I also go to different hotels and restaurants to experience what they have to offer, not just front of the house but also the heart of the house. From time to time I do research on the internet, read magazines and catch up with my colleagues to gather some fresh ideas.
- How do you see your kitchen develop towards a more sustainable operation in the future?
It is really ideal for me to source our own products from the local community and to help the surrounding community in looking for work, directly or indirectly. It has a multiplier effect and we all could benefit from each other. In terms of helping the environment, our kitchen doesn’t cook or serve endangered species, this is a real no go.
- If you could give just one piece of advice to chefs on how to tackle food waste, what would it be?
Communication is the key, make sure that everyone knows what they’re doing and everyone is knowledgeable about your protocols. Make sure that your team is committed to reach the same goal.
- Is there a chef you admire the most? Who and why?
Michael Post's passion really inspired me from the time I was just a trainee up until now. Michael guided me all throughout my career as a chef.
- What’s your most recent fascination and why? (i.e an ingredient, technique)?
The infectious passion to perfection of Novotel Manila’s culinary team, constant innovation in techniques, always striving for the best product and service quality.
- Best meal ever?
My best meal would be my mother’s roasted goose with red cabbage and potato dumplings.
- Favorite Dish?
Handkäs mit Musik un Ebbelwoi- it is a marinated young cheese from the area of Frankfurt served with apple wine.
- Best places to eat out in the world?
I would definitely recommend “Zur Linde” in Greifenstein. It’s owned by my good friend Michael Post.
You might also be interested in: Winnow Chef's Table: Q&A with Executive Chef Christian Bruhns