Tomer Hauptman Q&A

We speak to our resident chef Tomer Hauptman, formerly Head Chef of renowned Amsterdam eatery Mr Porter to discuss his career so far, what aliens are cooking on other planets and the cult of instagram.

Q What do you think it is about food and nature that brings people together?

“When you think about it – gathering around the fire for a feast is probably one of the most ancient social activities of our species! I believe this answer the question?”

Q What do you enjoy the most about cooking over fire?

“I love the smell of burning wood, and the magic it’s heat does to food. Nothing beats a char-grilled piece of veg, meat or fish (I’d personally always go for the 1st..) – with only a drizzle of olive oil, some flaky salt cracked black pepper. Having grown up in Israel, the smell of a ‘mangal’ throws me straight back to some of my loveliest memories.”

Q If you had the ability to travel back in time and host a woodland feast who would you host?

“Well, rather then hosting admirable and fun figures, perhaps I’d rather host a bunch of awful dictators (no need to mention names..) who messed up our world – and over a marshmallow on stick try and convince them to have another thought? “

Q If you had one superpower what would it be?

“Tough one! Invisibility is really cool… but I’d also LOVE to be able to fly!!! “

Q What is your style of cooking and what does this say about your personality?

“I’d describe my style of cooking as true and unpretentious. I don’t like messing to much with my food, and I try to magnify the natural flavors of fresh products with simple techniques and bold seasoning which flatters them. It MIGHT say that I’m honest and ‘straight forward’? I don’t really like secrets and surprises. “

Q Do you believe in aliens and if so are there chefs cooking on other planets?

“My dad is a researcher of technological forecast, and also a sci-fi icon in Israel… perhaps I shall address this question to him then? I personally find it hard to believe that the universe is infinite and it’s only us around!! And where developed civilization exists – someone needs to cook I guess! “

Q Complete this sentence. I have been spending my lockdown…

“Cooking, eating, exercising, dog walking, reading, and in front of screens.”

Q Complete this sentence. If I wasn’t a chef I would be…

“Possibly a psychologist (I think I have a good understanding of the human soul) and more romantically – an author/writer “

Q What has been the highlight of your career so far and what else do you hope to achieve?

“I was a head chef twice so far, both in very challenging venues. While the first period was a very rough learning curve, during the second one I actually felt I’m doing a solid job as a boss/mentor (of nearly 30 chefs!) and manager. This was definitely a highlight for me and an incredibly emotional time also. An achievement I’d love to accomplish is coming up with a brilliant dining concept that is based on vegetables and operates sustainably and profitably. “

Q What advice do you have for young chefs starting out in this industry?

“Well, in today’s media-controlled reality when everyone basically can title themselves  as a ‘chef’ – I’m not quite sure what would be the right answer! But being faithful to my old school values, I’d advise to choose wisely who to work for or with, and invest as much in working habits (cleanliness, efficiency, organization etc.) as in creativity and knowledge. Lastly, I’d warmly advise to have an open mind to other inspiring things in life. It’s never all about food. “

Q What would you like to be remembered for?

“Not really bothered  with my remembrance. If a handful of lovely people will remember me as a good friend, that’s more than enough. “

And finally…
A moment on the lips or a lifetime on the hips?

“I try and keep my hips in good shape, and not on the expense of some lip action!!! There’s a way to do it, and it’s called exercise.”

Guest Chef Q&As

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