Leo Gstrein, National Executive Chef for Restaurant Associates, has an infinite passion for cooking that started when he was just a little boy.
Growing up on a farm in a small town in Austria, Leo’s butcher and chef father and restauranteur mother created an idyllic culinary and hospitality environment to nurture his early interests in the discipline.
Here he tells us more about his journey as a chef and what he wants to achieve in his profession…
What were the important lesson you learned in your career as a chef?
A lot of my learning experiences often boiled down to the produce and the people. They taught me how to respect the produce or how to get the best out of individuals within the team. A cornerstone in my career was the moment I made the connection between taste and presentation. For me, plating a dish is like completing a work of art and I really feel like I can express the very best of myself in my creations this way.
What would you say is your favourite cuisine and cooking technique?
It’s difficult to pick one standout cuisine as a favourite to prepare and eat. I guess I can say that my fusion recipes perhaps stem from my love of all cuisines and my inability to be comfortable with just one. I think the role of the modern cook or chef is not only to tantalise the taste buds of the diner but to use up to date culinary techniques to enhance their experience.
How important is career mentorship for you?
I want to ignite the flames of passion for cooking in all our chefs, whether fresh out of culinary school, or those seasoned veterans. I am passionate about sharing my journey with my fellow cooks and chefs. I see this as a personal responsibility to pay the knowledge forward.