10 Minutes with Puente Romano’s Executive Chef Thomas Stork23-06-2014
In February Thomas Stork was awarded the accolade of Best Chef in Andalucia as part of the Andalucian Gastronomy Awards 2013. i-Marbella decided to take 10 minutes and find out the secrets of this amazingly talented chef!
This German born chef began his culinary career at just 14, working in a very humble kitchen, learning the basic skills and gaining a passion for food. In 1992 he moved to a Michelin star kitchen and from there got his dream job working in the three Michelin star restaurant La “Residenz Heinz Winkler”. He said “I started working with Heinz Winkler in 1994 and it was better than the best university. Working there was a dream of all aspiring chefs and for me to come from a small restaurant in a little town to form a big part of his kitchen team was really an honour and privilege. It was there that I learned to play in the Premier League in cooking terms, everything I am today I owe to Heinz Winkler and not a day goes by without me thanking God for the opportunity.”
From there he moved to a highly fashionable restaurant in Munich cooking for the city’s celebrities. After a year he got a call from Winkler who had signed a contract to oversee a restaurant in a luxury hotel on the Costa del Sol and he needed a team he could trust to move over. Just four weeks later he arrived at the Hotel Las Dunas and worked there for ten years, earning it a Michelin star in the process.
Following two years at sea setting up fine dining restaurants on cruise ships, he returned to Spain to work at Hotel Los Monteros for three happy years. But he knew he wanted to get back into the “premiere league”, so jumped at the opportunity to become the Executive Chef of Hotel Puente Romano in 2011. Since then he has been an integral part of developing the wide range of restaurants at the hotel as well as the reputation as a gastronomic destination.
1. How long have you been working in Puente Romano Beach Resort?
I have been working here for 2,5 years now.
2. And when did you start your career?
I started in 1987 as a chef, so I have 27 years experience in this field.
3. How did you end up in Puente Romano?
I think they chose me because of my international experience. I have experience in high level gastronomy and I speak Spanish of course. In my opinion the Hotel Puente Romano is the best hotel on the Costa del Sol and so I am delighted to be a part of their team and shine a light on the extraordinary gastronomy that the hotel is producing.
4. What is your challenge here in Puente Romano? Or is it easy here?
Everything is a process and it has to be started, organised and supervised. I have a lot of staff here to train, any change is a change of a lot of staff. I have to see the whole picture.
5. How many restaurants do you have to look after in Puente Romano?
The number is changing during the year, but right now we have now Del Mar, Sea grill, Namazake, Suite, Pool Bar and Grill, banquet facilities, breakfast, room service, we have between Marbella Club and us a boat that we rent out and we also make catering for the boat from here. You can have canapés, caviar, sushi whatever you want. But everything I do is teamwork, I couldn’t do nothing without my team!
6. How do you create a menu for a place?
For example the arabian menu in Suite restaurant is done by Arabian chef together with me, there are several things that I want see in there, several that he wants and also the owner has his opinion. So it is a lot of team work inside and my work is to coordinate the team and to take out the best of everyone of them!
7. What is your favourite food personally?
I love everything, but I love chocolate a lot. Also I love sushi, ceviches, barbecues, Mexican food.
8. What are you cooking at home?
Normally my wife cooks at home and I cook when we have some guests over.
9. Who is your role model? Or who do you follow?
There are several chefs I admires. I have a lot of respect to Heinz Winkler. I am constantly updating myself and looking and learning. I never stop learning.
10. How people eating behaviours have changed during the years?
People eat more healthy now. They want to have less fat, less sauces or light sauces. Asian food is coming in very strong, not only sushi, also influences from India, Thai etc. Middle east food comes in also a lot.
11. What else do you do here that we don’t know about?
I am not only chef, I am also a pastry chef. I also make birthday and wedding cakes.
12. What is the secret of your success?
I have a wide range of experience. I have banqueting experience, Michelin star kitchen experience, all type of food experience, also logistic experience. How to treat people, when you have 56 different nationalities in your kitchen team.
13. What does it take to become an executive chef in Puente Romano?
Love and passion for the food.
14. What kind of characteristics do you need to have as a chef?
You need to have knowledge and also you have to be a workaholic and to be honest with yourself. And be ambitious. You have to calculate with food and time, psychological skills, understand how the whole hotel works. And this you learn both in school and also during the years of work.
15. What is the most important thing about creating excellent food?
Passion, product and knowledge.
16. What is the key to satisfy clients?
You need a good team to start with. I am the executive chef, but I am nothing without my team. It is like being a football team coach without players. I need my players.
17. What are the most ridiculous or weirdest wishes from the clients?
This kind of clients need most of all attention and a bit of love.
The Hotel Puente Romano boasts seven wonderful places for dining, drinking or dancing the night away to suit a range of tastes and occasions. More information www.puenteromano.com
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