Featured Interviews

Chef Talk with Dietmar Spitzer

Dietmar Spitzer
Chef Dietmar Spitzer

Dining inside the popular JW Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa has gotten a little hotter with the addition of new executive chef 43 year old, Austrian born Dietmar Spitzer. Dietmar arrived on the island three months ago and prior to this he served as executive chef of the 2011 Best Newly Opened Hotel, the Ritz Carlton Shanghai Pundong, where it was his role to open and manage the hotel’s kitchen operations and culinary enterprises. His previous roles have taken him across continents, into the kitchens of some world-class properties.

From a very early age Dietmar knew he wanted to become a chef. His father, although not a professional, was a great cook and Dietmar believes this is where he gained his great interest in cooking. At the age of 13, his father got him a placement in a Michelin starred restaurant in his hometown and this was where his culinary journey begun.

Nobody could be more passionate about their job, or food, than Dietmar, and every day he continues to fulfill his dream and passion creating food.

Dietmar recently took some time out to speak to Phuketindex.com about his role as executive chef of JW Marriot Resort & Spa and to share some of his culinary secrets with us.

What changes will you make now you’re here?

Well the changes have already started, and in the three months I’ve already been here we have completely changed the menus in all our outlets, and now we’re working on setting up some new chef promotions for the coming high season. I’ve already arranged for my old Japanese Chef from the Ritz Carlton to come over in January to do a 10 day promotion. We also have a very special local lady, a brilliant chef, who comes in and prepares food which is all made from ingredients picked from the rainforest 2 days before the dinner, and this is Thai food as it was 250 years ago. I’m really excited about this promotion as when I first arrived she came here and cooked dinner for us and for me, even being an executive chef, it was absolutely mind-blowing, and we were still talking about it one week after. We have already held the first dinner with her and we will now have one every month. It’s not a cheap dinner, but it is a unique dining experience which any big food lover really should come and try. Chef’s Tables will start in November. They will be held in one restaurant per week, and will feature a special menu which will be prepared for a limited number of 10 guests.

What are the main challenges you face when implementing a new menu or dish?

Changes are difficult for anyone in any situation in life. However, in my opinion a lot of it has to do with training and how well you are prepared for the changes. As mentioned before, I have changed the menus in all our outlets and we had no issues when implementing them. I work well ahead of time, and everything that needs to be done is done ahead of time. One of the most important things for me is that not only the chefs, but also the serving staff have full knowledge of what they are selling. Therefore, I want them to try and see the foods beforehand so they can explain in their own way what the food is that we have on offer.

What do you have to take into account when developing a new menu or dish?

The most important thing is the taste. However, menus change according to seasons, and also we have to adapt menus for our changes in customer type. In the summer we have mainly Asian guests so I have to set menus which are focused on our Asian clientele, and when we have mostly Westerners I have to adapt the menu for them.

What is your food philosophy?

Well my personal food philosophy is very simple. You buy good ingredients, you cook them as fresh as is possible, and you create something beautiful for the plate. I’m not a chef who is into fusion cooking, I believe in very good basic food, which uses the best ingredients possible.

If there was one dish you could, but have never been able to put on a menu what would it be?

Well, that’s a good question but there is actually a very special dish in Austria which uses the lung of a cow and I absolutely love it. It’s slow cooked and served in a sauce made from vinegar and flour and with a dumpling. I know for sure if I put that on any menu people would not buy it because they don’t know what it is.

What does the future hold for Chef Dietmar?

At 13 I said I wanted to be a chef, and I have achieved that goal. I’m 44 next year and I still want to be a chef. I enjoy what I’m doing and I still love to see food being prepared in the kitchen. I’ve often been asked if I want to move into F & B management but as a chef I know what I’m doing and that I do it well, why would I want to change that. I’m living my DREAM — and for me happiness is being a Chef!

JW Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa
231 Moo 3 Mai Khao, Thalang, Phuket, 83110 Thailand
Tel: +66 (0) 76 338 000
E-mail: jwmarriott.phuket@marriotthotels.com

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