Name : Joachim Textor
Age : 39
Biography - after his apprenticeship in Germany he
learned more intensively the Swiss - French cuisine in
various first class establishments around Switzerland
like the Hilton Hotel in Basel , Park-Hotel in Vitznau
and Hyatt Hotel in Montreux. From there he moved on to
London Hilton on Park lane, where again star rated top
French cuisine were produced. In further to widen his
culinary horizon he took the job opportunity to work on
the German cruise vessel MS Europe and the only 6 star
rated Yacht Sea Goddess 2. There he touched first time
ground with the Far East region whilst cruising around
7 continents. A few years later his first taste of Asia
was in The Peninsula Hotel/Philippines where he served
as Sous-chef in their fine dining restaurant. Than he
took the challenge into China serving as their opening
Ex.Sous-Chef for the Shangri-La’s China World Hotel with
21 F&B outlets to be opened ( both members of the leading
Hotels of the world ). In 1993 he took his first Executive
Chef job position at The Bintang Bali Hotel in Bali/ Indonesia
( where he also has been the President of the Chef’s Association
on the Island of the gods and organized one of the first
Food Competition in Bali). From there he had the opportunity
to work in Kuala Lumpur / Malaysia at The Dynasty Hotel
and Tower. When the position for the Executive Chef at
The Mandarin Hotel Singapore, Orchard Road became available
in 1997 it was to good to resist.....
Tell us about the Mandarin Hotel. How many outlets
do you oversee, how large is your banquet operation
and how many covers do you produce for over the year?
Actually we have seven outlets and an extensive banqueting
operation our Grand Ballroom can accommodate up to 1200.
Our popular Chatterbox Coffeehouse which operates around
the clock and the averages 1380 covers each day is quite
unique. On a daily basis 40 % of the sales are for our
signature dish the “ Hainanese Chicken Rice “ (this
is a special type of chicken raised for us in Malaysia
each one has a label to trace the source). We recently
celebrated the 29th anniversary of our Coffeehouse.
We have sold more than 1840 portion of this very popular
dish in one day alone!
How large is your brigade, how many sous chefs do
you have and are they all "expats"?
I oversee a culinary team of up and down 180 staff.
Presently I have ten local Sous-Chefs; in addition to
that I am having one expat sous chef and one expat pastry
Communication - what is the language of your kitchen?
The language overall here in Singapore is English.
Although a few of my elderly cooks were educated in
Training - Is this a big focus in your kitchen,
if so is there a particular system you have in place
to make this happen?
I am working very close with our Human Resource Dept.
We are in the process of working out a detailed individual
training plan for each position starting from a cook
one, to lead cook and perhaps sous chef. In addition
to this, various courses such as language courses and
computer courses are offered to our staff as it has
become more and more essential to work with computers
on a daily base.
Do you have a problem recruiting kitchen staff;
have you had to change the way you run your operation
to compensate for staffing problems?
Most of the hotels in town are facing the similar
problems of staff shortages.
It can’t be avoided in the years to come, so we must
make more use of convenience products - at least in
the big banqueting area! Even so I am still this kind
of chef who would likes to stick to freshness and produce
everything possible in-house. But the times are fading
or even gone, if I look back 20 years - when I had to
make fresh French fries for example - from the scratch.
That kind of manpower luxurious and cannot be afforded
anymore. But still, I do not want to sacrifice on my
food quality, even so I had to reduce my kitchen labor
cost by 18 % over the past 4 years! The same goes for
the food cost, which I am keeping in a good balance
between 32 -33% overall.
Can you tell us about your life style both in work
(hours and amount of days you work, cultural challenges
and the structure of your working day) and out of work(social
life, where you live, the commute to work and how you
spend your days off)?
My commencement at work normally starts at 7.30 am
checking the various breakfast outlets, which can go
up occasionally to nearly 1000 persons a day. Later
in the morning I am have short daily briefings with
my outlet chefs, go down to the receiving area and check
at the quality of food arriving Then it is time to start
re mingling in the kitchens, checking on the food samples
of the day, hygienic and sanitary standard and getting
ready for lunch service. The afternoon is normally reserved
for hiring - interviews or developing and typing of
new recipes. Scheduling of staff as well planning of
their annual leaves according to our business forecast
is also a part of it. Also working on upcoming food
promotions, either in-house or international. The evening
normally ends for me at about 9 PM (if there is no outside
catering or big banquet event). As an expat the working
week is 6 days a week, compared to my country of origin
which is Germany, I am working here in Singapore 48
days more I a year. My annual leave is 3 weeks plus
public holidays. As I am living in the Hotel there is
not too much social life left. I work out three nights
a week followed by a steam bath, Jacuzzi or Sauna in
order to refresh my mind. Usually on my day off I am
taking my time with my Korean wife and we go for lunch
in one of our regular Chinese restaurants in town or
explore the authentically local places like museums,
temples and bookstores to widen our horizons I think
it is very important to understand and be knowledgeable
about the country where I am working. Sometimes we just
join friends for a casual BBQ. Sometimes we go to an
island close by to Singapore either to Malaysia or Indonesia
just to let go from the daily routine!
A piece of advice to a chef wishing to work in Singapore
or any other Asian Country.