Up Close and Personal with Heinz Beck
German-born chef Heinz Beck established himself as a chef to be reckoned with, after earning the coveted status of three Michelin-stars, not in his native country, but in Italy, where his restaurant Le Pergola garnered him global critical acclaim. Although his restaurant in Rome is aimed at the epitome of fine dining, Social, here in Dubai, focuses on serving up the same fine food but in a less formal setting, for a more modern experience.
Following his first success in the region and with the city having become a globally renowned gastronomic destination, Chef Heinz will be opening a completely new concept this month at the Galleria Mall, Al Wasl Road, called Taste of Italy. Proving to have a finger in every pie, Chef Heinz reveals that this will be a casual dining outlet without compromising on quality, serving up Michelin star pizzas and pastas and but in a family setting that will welcome loyal patrons daily at its bakery, patisserie and gelateria.
How would you describe your style of cooking?
Mediterranean, healthy and well balanced cuisine
Which three ingredients couldn’t you live without?
Pasta, vegetables and herbs.
What in your opinion is required from a cook to make a good dish?
It’s important to know your ingredients properly before embarking on complicated techniques, but once you have a blend of the two, a deep rooted knowledge of culture and avant-garde cooking methods, that is when you become a truly outstanding chef.
How did your passion for cooking begin?
When I was a child, cooking was a way of me expressing the artistic and curious side of myself. It just grew from there.
What is the secret of your success?
Never stop. I always think that the best dish is not invented yet.
What has been the most memorable moment of your career?
I have plenty of good memories but, in particular, two: first in 2010 when I received the International Prize from Roman University, Sapienza. It was the first time in 30 years that prize was conferred to a chef. Then in 2014, when I received the ‘Lion of Venice Career Award’ not only as Chef, but as a professional in the field of Italian Enogastronomy. It was a very big honour.
Who have been your favourite guests?
All my guests are favourites. I remember with particular pleasure when I cooked for Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) when he was still Cardinal. He celebrated his birthday at ‘La Pergola’ and it was an emotional moment.
What is the strangest thing you have ever eaten?
Pufferfish, in Kyoto
What would be your ideal last meal on Earth?
Baked Sicilian Anellini pasta
What advice would you give to a home cook trying to pull together a meal in a hurry?
If you need to improvise in a hurry, you can never go wrong with a good dish of pasta
What advice would you give to an amateur chef hoping to follow in your footsteps?
Be humble and never give up.
Do you have a strict health and fitness regime?
Currently I manage eight restaurants worldwide. That is my best fitness regime!
What are your plans for the future?
Besides Taste of Italy which will open soon in Dubai, I have several projects in progress related with the food impact on health that I will present at Expo 2015 in Milan.
HEINZ BECK’S FAGOTTELLI CARBONARA
FOR THE PASTA
2 egg yolks
Salt, to taste
FOR THE FILLING
5 egg yolks
60g Pecorino cheese
80ml whipped cream
Salt and white pepper, to taste
FOR THE VEAL STOCK
1kg bones and trimmings of veal
A splash of extra virgin olive oil
2 onions, chopped
120g carrots, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
5 cherry tomatoes, chopped
1 bunch rosemary
10 shells of whole white pepper
FOR THE DRESSING
35g turkey breakfast strips, julienned
100g courgettes, diced
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
25ml white grape juice
50ml veal stock
40g Pecorino cheese
A scattering of chopped green chillies
A splash of extra virgin olive oil
1 Begin by preparing the veal stock. Cut the trimmings of veal into small pieces; break the bones and put everything in a pan that can fit in your oven, with a splash of extra virgin olive oil.
2 Place in the oven at 190C and brown until the bones and trimmings become golden brown.
3 Remove from oven, drain the excess oil and transfer the mixture to a saucepan set over a medium-high heat.
4 Add the vegetables, which should already be cleaned and chopped, the rosemary, the shells of white pepper and cook for a few more minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
5 Cover the bones and the trimmings of veal with cold water and bring to a boil.
6 Cook for about 2 hours on a low heat, skimming during cooking to remove the impurities that rise to the surface.
7 Pass the veal stock through a clean cloth placed over a fine sieve.
8 Next, prepare your filling. Beat the yolks in a double boiler and slowly add the grated Pecorino cheese to the eggs.
9 Add the white pepper and salt and then allow to cool a little before adding the whipped cream.
10 Place the mixture in a pastry bag and allow to chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
11 In the meantime, prepare your fagottelli pasta dough. Mix the flour with the semolina, add one whole egg, the egg yolks, (keeping 1 egg white aside), a pinch of salt and water as needed.
12 Work the dough for a long time and form into a ball. Wrap it in clingfilm and allow to cool in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
13 Roll the dough out into thin strips and cut into 7cm squares.
14 With a spoon, spread the filling over the dough and close it in the shape of a cylinder, pressing the dough with your fingers.
15 Fold and cut out the fagottelli with a toothed wheel. Set aside.
16 Prepare the sauce by placing all the ingredients in a pan with a little extra virgin olive oil. Add the white grape juice and bring to the boil before adding the veal stock.
17 Cook the fagottelli in a pan of well-salted water.
18 Once cooked, drain, and add the sauce, whisking in some Pecorino cheese, chopped chillies and a splash of extra virgin olive oil.