Michelin chef Daniel Birkner joins #HAPI to create exquisite dishes that look like traveling around the world
As the epidemic stabilized, the dining service finally resumed and we could finally meet with relatives and friends in the restaurant at night time. With the reactivation of the world, we are happy to share that our new Michelin chef Daniel Birkner has officially joined #HAPi this month. With his years of experience and professional skills, he has created delicate dishes like globetrotting. Before visiting #HAPi kitchen, let know more about the charisma of our new chef.
Born into a family where food was very much valued, with a trained chef as father and younger brother. Daniel gained his very first experience and recipe taught by his grandmother; her famous split pea soup. Later he could “help out” in the restaurant run by his father before entering into internships followed by years of apprenticeship in Germany. “At a very early age I knew that cooking will be my inspiration and career” – says Daniel, to whom music and art are secondary sources for inspiration and the counterbalance to his work life. Indulging and being grounded in pieces by his favorite composer Johann Sebastian Bach, while playing the organ or piano, or just listening are the perfect way to relax and free one’s mind.
After the first junior positions and a cooking stint for the officers with the German Army, the travelling years started and led to exciting opportunities throughout Europe. After years of experience, he returned and opened his own Michelin awarded Restaurant “Herr B.” in his hometown. Following the call of love in 2013, he moved to Hong Kong and worked with Harbour Grand North Point at their top floor restaurant “Le188”, Restaurant Zurriola in Tsim Sha Tsui and the Hong Kong and Shanghai Hotels at the prestigious Hong Kong Club. During his time in Hong Kong, Daniel was offered the presidency for the Hong Kong delegation of the respected, chef driven culinary association “Disciples Escoffier International”, a position which he held for more than three years until moving to Taiwan taking on the challenging opportunity of joining the pre-opening team for the new Marriott Kaohsiung. While every status of Daniel has given him many remarkable experiences, he can apply all of them in every job in the future.
Question time - Talk with #HAPi new chef
Q: What was the experience of being the presidency for the Hong Kong delegation of the respected, chef driven culinary association “Disciples Escoffier International”?
A: It was a challenging and exciting time at the helm of the delegation. Having taken over after a tumultuous time, we reset the membership base, structured new events and grew the members base and participants for events massively. The feedback for the events we did was overwhelming. If i wouldn’t have moved to Taiwan I probably would still be doing it. The connections, meetings and events were all very rewarding, especially the young chef competitions where one of the credos of Escoffier, to transfer knowledge and skills, was perfectly executed.
Q: What is your cooking philosophy?
A: Product focus with as little manipulation as possible but as much as needed to present ingredients and a dish in the best possible way.
Q: Can u share some the story of your Michelin awarded Restaurant “Herr B.” in Germany? e.g. Type of restaurant it is etc…
A: “Herr B.” (standing for Mr. B.) my nickname for staff, friends and in the local restaurant scene, was my second restaurant and as clear from the name, dear to my heart and connected to me. Everything there was me, in the restaurant and on the plate. I had people working for me that were on the same wavelength as me and could deliver my message as best as even possible. A pure joy to work with such a great team. Situated in a 1920 old central park villa, we offered fine dining, banquets, garden with terrace and event space for any host. I closed it when I moved to HK in 2013, which was a shame as the city lost the only other fine dining place shortly before our closure and of course my team would have loved to continue.
Q: Following the call of love in 2013, a romantic story! You are Globetrotter Chef! As a world-class Michelin awarded Chef, why do you choose HK as home?
A: I chose HK because my partner, whom i met here in 2012 is local. We visited each other in the months to follow and then decided that I’ll move to HK as it would be probably easier for me to settle here than for him in Germany. Even though I am not together with him anymore, I never regretted it to have moved here. I love the city, the people, the food and just the fact that I live in HK.
Q: How do you interpret the concept of "Around the world” in your menu?
A: Making use of my experiences from the places I lived and worked at, have travelled to and simply combine those.
Q: What is your inspiration of the menu design for #HAPi?
A: Initially very practically. What is physically possible due to kitchen size, team size, experience etc. Operating a restaurant for four meal periods is a challenge in itself already, under the current circumstances and guidelines even more though. Add in the expectations of the owner and management and you’ll get filled out days for sure. For the rest, see number 6.
Q: What does cooking bring to your life?
A: Cooking is life, food is life! Gather your friends or family at a table, serve food that is cooked with heart and that you’d love to eat yourself, and experience the magic! Our home always has a big kitchen and big table, as the best time is always spend around the kitchen and food.
Q: Music and art are secondary sources for inspiration and the counterbalance to your work life, do u have any idea or plan for a fusion of “Cuisine” & “ Music” in your future plan?
A: I love food and I love music. And I respect both very much. So much so, that I’d love to focus on just one. Background music is always there, but not important! If you think about it, do you ever remember the music being played in a restaurant? Only when the food is bad or the atmosphere lacks something. But certainly music wouldn’t always be the key to that. Serious music would be a waste to be played with food. I’d personally rather appreciate a good meal without music or a piece of classic on its own. Having mixed evenings where food is appreciated and the music, or the other way around would more be something I’d be inclined to go through with. But this is certainly a challenging position I have here and an uncomfortable opinion to have; but who likes main stream anyway!?
Q: What is happiness?
A: Coming home, hugging my partner and getting head bumps from my cats!
Coffee, cake and ice cream in the sunshine.
Listening to J.S. Bach Passacaglia and Fugue in C-Moll (Minor) BWV 582.
Making it through a busy restaurant day with the entire team in full swing and accord! The rush at the end of the day, amazing!