Heinz Beck is a world-renowned, 3-star Michelin chef. He has been heading the restaurant called Social by Heinz Beck in the Waldorf Astoria Hotel on Dubai’s Palm for eight years. The food he creates there is contemporary Italian cuisine in an atmosphere described as laid back, yet vibrant. His many years of experience have taken him around the world, making him a master of modern gastronomy. He has dedicated years of his life to the study of nutrition and the effects of food on the body. That's how he knows how important nutrition is, especially in the midst of a pandemic. In an exclusive interview, he tells us about that and also gives us insight into how the restaurant industry must bounce back from the health crisis.
We are coming out of a pandemic that has affected everybody around the globe. How have you seen it impact your industry?
"Of course, we were very, very toughly hit in the industry, especially in countries like I'm coming from in Europe. You know, the restaurant industry is very much undercapitalised through the high costs of manpower. So having all these small restaurants with not a lot of resources, it's very difficult to reopen these places. And for this, we need a lot of help, not only from the government, even from the people coming very quickly back to normal, normal eating in the restaurants, you see, because, you know, eating in the restaurants, it's nice. It's good for you, for your soul, it's good for your brain, it's good for you to feel better communicating, you know. Being closed in the house and not able to communicate, not able to socialise, it's hitting a lot of people very deeply. And you can only help them by making them socialise again."
You are known as the master of the modern kitchen, what does that mean to you?
"For me, it's very important because you see, my philosophy behind cooking is we all are what we eat here. So you make your body more strong and more resistant in health through the proper food. And this is in this very moment, a very important moment, you know, because coming out of the pandemic, everybody is much more concerned about how important health is and how important your immune system is to you. By eating in a proper way, by processing the food in the proper way, by eating the right quantities, your immune system will become much, much, much stronger. I have, for 20 years, got behind this kind of study I’ve done a lot of experiments of scientific work with a lot of international professors by studying what food is doing in your organism. You see nutrition is coming, the selection of the food and how the food is grown and how the food will be brought to the spot. This is the first job and it has to be precise. Then the next job is how to keep it in the fridge and how to process it in a way that you will not lose micronutrients because these are so important to our metabolism. Of course, selecting the right food and producing the right food in the right seasons is important because in the summer you need a lot, a lot of food that is rich of minerals and in water because during the day we are sweating and we are losing a lot of water in our organism. The truth about losing water, is that you lose a lot of mineral salts as well. So what we have to do, we have to bring them back to our organism."
What do you think needs to be done on issues like childhood obesity?
"You know, there are certain things. There’s not only one thing, you see. The first thing is right communication. You see, teaching them how to eat and teaching them what to eat and teaching them what to avoid."
You're originally from Germany, but you're known for your Italian cuisine. Do you lean towards one country or the other?
"No, I'm European, you know. You see, with the Roman Empire, Europe was one country. You know, it was the Roman Empire that was coming from Turkey to Portugal, and from England to Italy, so we have all the same roots in the end, so why would we say: ‘OK, you’re English, I'm Italian? Or I'm German and you’re French?’ In the end, we have one set of roots and really deep roots and a beautiful culture. And then you have the European culture, a great culture. We should help one another to become strong again like we were before, unified."
You are known because you have three Michelin stars. Does that put a bit of pressure on you and does that come with expectations?
"Yes, of course, it brings pressure to you and I'm very happy to have them now for all these years. It helps you to motivate your staff even more and to tell them every year that we have to be better and to do all my best to come up, every year, with new ideas, with new concepts, with new creations, with positive ways of thinking and helping my staff to perform better. Good, better, best doesn’t stop before the good is better and better is the best."