Interview with Master Chef Helmut Holzer

In this interview with Master Chef Helmut Holzer (one of only 11 in the whole world!), he shares with us his research and development work around plant-based foods.

You can find out more about his project and work by clicking this link here.

Here’s a transcript of the first 8 mins of the interview:

Chef Paul Luna (CPL): My name is Paul Luna, and you’re turned into F&B Lunacy. I am here today with Master Chef Helmut Holzer. So tell us a bit about yourself.

Master Chef Helmut Holzer (MCHH): That’s a that’s the worst thing you can ask me because i don’t i don’t know how to blow my own horn. You know that’s difficult that’s a difficult one.

CPL: What are you cooking on? What are you — what are you working on right… How long have you been right now… uh…

MCHH: I’m no longer active in the in the day-to-day culinary field. I’ve moved over into R&D for the last 18 years and been working on plant-based proteins. Everything from insects to bio. You know, stem cell. Growing meats in in petri dishes so to speak. From ideations all the way to taking it to the shelf. Right now i’m working with a thai company, coming with plant-based proteins and under the southeast asian flavor profiles — with rice, with noodles…

All different type of fun stuff like that.

CPL: Sounds incredibly interesting.

MCHH: It is it’s been it’s been a tough year, but it’s been also very rewarding here from that
aspect great. Great as a master in the food and beverage industry.

CPL: What do you see for the future of culinary arts?

MCHH: Oh boy, that’s a loaded question… But the restaurant industry as you know is suffering greatly right now. And a lot of the industry is shifting in the retail, into meal kits, into home. Home meals and all replacements all and so forth, so…

It’s gonna be the tough ones gonna be making it and the weak ones gonna be flushed out unfortunately.

CPL: What about for the food and beverage industry as a whole?

MCHH: As the whole um as soon as we have the virus under control i’m sure it’s going to
bloom back to his glory before. It’s going to take some time i would say.

20 and ’22. We’ll be somewhat back in the saddle. This pandemic, it has turned the restaurant industry globally on its head.

CPL: What are your thoughts?

MCHH: Well we we all we all had to we all at one point say to ourselves… Well we chefs we cooks, we always gonna have a job because everybody has to eat. Well, that’s no longer the case you know. So unless you think outside the box, and you go and reinvent yourself you gonna be sitting on the side of the road so to speak.

CPL: What do you think of self-taught chefs?

MCHH: Well, you know cooking comes from the heart, you know. So depending on how big your heart is and how much you devote yourself to it, there’s a lot of good happy cooks out
there.

Chefs self-taught chefs um… If they work with good trained chefs, they can reach a certain level as well

CPL: What advice do you have for the chef restaurateur who wants to open a restaurant in this reality?

MCHH: I’ll make it a grab-and-go. The grand the grab-and-go will work. Yeah i think you know i’ve seen i’ve suggested a lot of different folks different opportunities. You know the everyday housewife or the everyday i call them home economic engineers they don’t have don’t have access to the quality of meats and the quality of fish quality chicken we have access to so i suggested, why don’t you go and during the restaurant into a little market where so many people can come in they can select they can have some beautiful cuts of meat some pates terrains all the different stuff you can make and and you can utilize because every square foot of your restaurant has to make money otherwise there’s no
reason for having a restaurant. Might as well have a truck have a food truck you know because there’s no need for you to sit down and have candlelight and you cannot enjoy it right now it’s impossible right so i told them if they’re invaders into delivery people then you turn your cooks into production people and try to overcome this whole mess until it turns
around how much is going to turn right that’s still in the crystal ball got broken in the last UPS shipment so i don’t know

CPL: for a while there we were seeing a trend towards chef-owned establishment do you still see that trend leading forward?

MCHH: yeah the brave ones still going to go forward with it. The ones who have people believe in them and float the bill, because not every chef is made to be a business person you know.

CPL: Is gaining mastery in the kitchen enough nowadays

MCHH: I just finished my term as uh chairman of the American Master Chefs Order and our our mission is continue the craft hone the craft and our slogan is forever student. So you continuously have to go and re-evaluate yourself, educate yourself. You can never stop in this business. Learning. Look at different opportunities and uh hone a skill.

CPL: You know when i when i think of chefs i think of the things that chefs now have to do not just in cooking but when it comes to social media. What are your thoughts?

MCHH: Yeah i think social media is definitely a huge — it’s a double-edged sword it’s like food network you know. Food network did a lot for the name chef but it also kind of gave a … i don’t know… it gave the wrong picture you know.

I think everybody wants to come out of school and be be a tv chef you know. Not everybody is an Emeril Lagasse. Not everybody is a … you know, whoever the names might be… or iron chef.

A lot of show.

I’m not sure if the skill level has to be there. So it is it’s a little bit of a smoke and mirrors in my in my opinion.

CPL: Do you have anything you like to share with the people? Anything you…? Any thoughts working on?

MCHH: Yeah we worked on some incredible meal kits out of thailand, indian flavor profiles. Thai profiles where even a simple home economic engineer can make a great meal at home. The noodles are there the pre-cooked. The coconut milk is there. The blend protein it’s just or you can do your own uh shrimp chicken pork beef whatever you want to do. Five minutes you have a meal done and it has this deal of approval.

It is it is outstanding i mean.