Chef of the Week: Alex Thiel, Executive Head Chef at German Gymnasium in London

How long have you worked at your current restaurant?
Since October 2022.

Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
My passion came from all the CDP and head chefs in my early years. I did a 3 year apprenticeship in Berlin when I was 16 years old.

What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
The buzz when it’s busy and everything runs smoothly – even when it looks chaotic for an outsider!

Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without.
Salt, potatoes and caraway seeds.

Which piece of kitchen equipment couldn’t you live without?
Peeling knife.

What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
Everyone goes for aubergine.

What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down?
Lake of discipline.

What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
Spring – when white asparagus is available. Big in Germany- not so common here.

Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
To cook a really good Bratkartoffeln (German style roast potatoes) seems easy but it isn’t, or our new asparagus dishes on our restaurant menu.

How do you come up with new dishes?
The new dishes are inspired  by what I have seen and learnt over the years with big influences from restaurants in Germany (especially Berlin) and of course chef magazines.

Who was your greatest influence?
I worked with a lot of good chefs and restaurant managers who taught me passion and discipline. I still remember so many moments when they taught me cooking methods or a certain approach how to deal with tricky situations under pressure… I had a lot of mentors. 

Tell us three chefs you admire.
I admire the unknown chef and waiter who still has the passion after a 12-hour shift, doing the job with love and serve the customer with respect.

What is your favourite cookbook?
I have too many to pick one. But I own the whole set of Culinary Chronicle Volumes 1-8. Wunderbar.

Who do you think are the chefs to watch over the next few months?
Not really following the scene but there are some crazy young talented chefs around…

What’s been your favourite new restaurant opening of the last year?
Last year was so busy for me… I totally missed out!