Michelin Star Chef Heiko Nieder: Unconventional Culinary Artist

Two times Michelin starred Chef Heiko Nieders love for food transcends all culinary boundaries.He defies the classic perceptions of fine dining by introducing unconventional tastes, mixtures and combinations that intrigue and inspire Love at first bite. Food is an experiment but also an experience bringing people together as well as bridging gaps between them.

Heiko Nieder, Chef at The Dolder Grand‘s The Restaurant opened his kitchen to me and shared his intrinsic love for food but also the philosophy behind his ever evolving cuisine.

I am a Chef because …

I love to eat! But when I was younger I never wanted to become a chef because I always thought that chefs were all fat! I used to work a boring job at an Import/Export for tea and vanilla. I always fascinated by their smell and flavours. A few weeks into working there, a neighbourhood Chef asked me if I would help organise and prepare the buffet for his guests. That was my first real encounter with good food. I was so happy that evening that I ran home and told my parents that I wanted to become a Chef! 

My personal food philosophy 

Enjoy food and not to analyze it so much. I love food. I want to eat, taste everything. When I’m on holidays I always search for good restaurants and food – not only the high end places but also the local restaurants, markets where I can get the local ingredients. When I see something I want to eat it! 

As for The Restaurant, I share the same philosophy. I want our guests to experience new flavours and new experiences. For example as they sit down, we give them 7 or 8 small bites just to say hello. They eat them by hand and enjoy a range of taste and texture. And when dinner is over, we do the same thing with 7 or 8 sweet bites with different kinds of chocolate. 

Our goal is for our guests to leave their problems behind while they’re with us – the elegant setting, the amuse bouches served on our special trays (designed in-house) and our unique menu, are all conversation starters. We hope to entice them with the sight of the food and delight them with the taste.

I just hope that they just remember that they had a good time while at The Restaurant.

Are you the cook at home?

Yes! 

I bet your friends must be nervous to invite you over and cook for you!

There’s only one family that invites me! We cook together.

Are you a picky eater?

Not at all. But our friends don’t seem to think so!

Where do you find your creativity?

In my head! I have drawers housing the different tastes which I can clearly imagine. I don’t want to copy existing ideas. Of course if I see something interesting I can get influenced but that’t not the goal.

What’s your favourite food to eat?

I love food but nothing I could eat every day because it would get boring. I love variety. 

Do you have a favourite ingredient?

I would say an Egg! Because you can work in so many different ways with it – a never ending story. You can prepare so many things with eggs using different techniques. I will show one with you later.

What did you eat last night?

Everything and nothing! Normally during the week I don’t eat anything but I taste everything. The last thing I had yesterday was a bite of the left over beef filet to check the quality of the beef. 

The last thing I ate at home was last Monday lunch time. I ate some left overs from our team BBQ on Sunday. 

Where do eat out in Zurich when you don’t work?

I don’t go out so often because I can cook myself and it’s easier when you have small kids. Otherwise I like Hato.

If today was my last day on earth, I would like to …

Pick up a private jet and fly from city to city, following the sun, and check out all the restaurants, street foods and markets. Try out all the amazing foods I can get my hands on.

If  I could choose a person to cook for one day, it would be …

My entire family and my friends, all in one place. We never manage to all be together at once.

Who did you cook for that made you star struck?

The first time I cooked for my wife! 

Any funny or unusual stories you can share about The Dolder Grand?

HAHA!! No (with a big smile)

What’s one easy cooking tip that I can easily do at home and impress my guests with?

Pickled egg!

Pickle an egg yolk in Miso. 50% Miso paste, 50% water. Mix them together then add an egg yolk to the mixture. Keep it for 4 days, then strain it and you have your egg yolk paste! You can spread it on bread for example. 

And if you don’t want to waste the egg white, whisk it, add salt. Heat oil to 60 degrees, add the egg white with a squeeze bottle in the oil. The egg white will turn into soft tiny balls which you can add to your salad. Looks much better than chopped egg whites!

Can you create a summer menu sample for me? I like healthy 🙂

I thought so! 

It would be our Vegetarian menu

  • Home-made Tofu, BBQ style with salad, hibiscus and wasabi and seaweed 
  • Our signature dish, The Vegetable stock 
  • Braised eggplant with Sorrel and banana, 
  • Our pickled tomato (whole tomato with chili, coffee and coriander) topped with red been ice-cream which tastes like chill con carne but without the meat.
  • Sautéed Chanterelle with bean salad, cassis and pickled egg yolk 
  • Dessert

What a treat 🙂

 
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