Chef Q&A: Andreas Fuchs, Grand Hyatt Tokyo’s Executive Chef

Interview with Andreas Fuchs, Grand Hyatt Tokyo’s Executive Chef

Please give us your self-introduction.
I’m originally from Stuttgart, southern Germany, but I have only worked there for 1 year during my 27-year career. I did my apprenticeship in Austria but spent most of my years in England where I was the head chef of the production kitchen at Harrods. I oversaw the production of 24 different outlets and managed a team of 34 chefs with 33 different nationalities. I have always had an interest in Asian cuisine and this brought me to China where I was Executive Chef at Park Hyatt Shanghai for 3 years before coming to Grand Hyatt Tokyo 2 years ago.

Did you always want to become a chef?
I only had the desire to learn how to cook and nothing else, and I can still say that today. That’s why I’m still doing my job. I’ve been working for 27 years, and I still have the passion and desire to cook. Many chefs leave this business after 2-3 years mainly because of pressure and long working hours, but pressure actually pushed me positively.

What was your impression of Japan when you first came here?
I didn’t know exactly what to expect when I first came to Japan but I knew that it was a very sophisticated country that had an abundance of top-quality ingredients. The vice president of culinary in Hong Kong said that Japan is a paradise for chefs because it has so many products at such a high level, and he was not wrong.

What is your role as an executive chef?
I give guidance on what should or could be incorporated into the menus. I work together with each restaurant’s chef de cuisine to come up with new ideas, promotions, and make sure they stay true to the restaurant’s concept.

What is unique about Grand Hyatt Tokyo?
We have 10 restaurants and bars offering different cuisine and cooking styles so working here is an interesting challenge. The Hyatt brand and especially Grand Hyatt Tokyo has a very active culinary program and we position ourselves as market leaders by constantly redefining what it means to be innovative. For example, we support local agriculture by harvesting our own rice and provide opportunities for our chefs to grow by sending them to Okinawa or other regions around Japan to find the best produce.

How would do you define omotenashi or hospitality?
We live by the Hyatt purpose to “care for people so they can be their best” and this spirit of hospitality is not only applied to guests but to our colleagues and community members. I believe that omotenashi is being able to read the unspoken words of guests and paying attention to the small details. The concept of hospitality is practiced all over the world and is not something new, but Japanese people have a word for it and do it in great detail. The small gestures add to the overall sense of omotenashi. It is very distinctly Japanese, and one of the beautiful things about this country.

How are the demands for special foods like superfoods or gluten-free?
Although popular, I wouldn’t say that superfood has high demand yet but demand for gluten-free dishes is climbing every year. 70% of our guests are international, so we are familiar with many different dietary needs and allergies. Not all of the guests inform us of their dietary restrictions in advance so we must be flexible and adapt to the ever-changing needs of our diverse client base. To do this, we have made changes to our menus such as offering 4 different gluten-free breads and labeling gluten-free, vegetarian and pork dishes on our in-room dining menu.
The thing is, we have been using these “superfoods” for a long time now but since they have been declared superfoods, we make a point to highlight them and show that we’re keen on not just the health benefits but on keeping up with trends. For example, we have our own Keyakizaka beef that we are currently growing by feeding the cows superfoods.

What is the future goal of Grand Hyatt?
Our goal is to continue offering innovative dining options for our guests and to keep incorporating fresh ideas while maintaining our high standards of quality. Looking to the Olympics in 2020, I know our diverse customer base will become even more diverse and we will need to continue to adapt to the needs of our guests by offering an abundance of options. The hospitality sector is very competitive in Tokyo, so we must offer something unique that will make people want to come and continue to return. It can’t just be superfoods or gluten-free items, it must be more than that. That’s what we try to provide.