At 23, Chef Christiaan Stoop is already an expert in cuisines from across the world. He is now channelising his culinary expertise through the medium he knows best – from the map to the kitchen, to the plate. LuxeBook talks to the chef from Germany about his food, his culinary journey and his exciting new tasting menu at The Oberoi, Mumbai.
It has been more than a year since chef Christiaan Stoop joined the Oberoi Group – at The Oberoi, New Delhi – putting years of intense training and experience into the western cuisine section of the hotel’s restaurant Threesixty. However, the young chef also has his eyes now on Indian food.
“The complexity of Indian cuisine fascinates me. It is technical and complex because of the different cooking methods, as well as the standard recipes that involve exacting proportions and timing,” says Stoop. Chhole bhature, fresh tawa pomfret, in Mumbai, and kulcha, in Amritsar, are some of his favourite dishes from the country’s diverse array of sub-cuisines.
The importance of food in a household transcends geographical and political borders. “Food has always been an integral part of my life growing up in an ever so large family, celebrating every moment of the day,” Stoop says, painting an image we see in our own country. For him, meals at his home were always a combination of cuisines; Mondays being ‘pasta day’, and Indonesian food served at least once a week because of his Dutch origins.
Home has since been an ever-changing place for Stoop. He headed East for his first-ever trip to pursue a career in food in 2012; completing all the courses designed by Shanghai’s Chinese Cooking Workshop. “Shanghai peaked my interest for travelling the world and experiencing different cuisines. A country’s cuisine is its culture. There’s so much to love about the real food of China. From the famed Peking duck to Shanghai-style xiao long bao dumplings, a trip to Shanghai truly is a moveable feast,” he says.
During his three-year apprenticeship at Feinkost Käfer, Munich, from 2012 to 2015, Stoop gained experience in catering, fine dining, and French brasseries; a stepping stone for his culinary journey. “Knowledge of a chef is as important as the chef’s knife. The finer his knowledge, the sharper his skills,” he says about the role of education and training in the culinary arts.
A series of Michelin-starred stints at the world’s top restaurants was to follow, with the first being ‘Esszimmer’, two Michelin Stars, in Munich in 2015, and the second being ‘Moments’, two Michelin Stars, in the Mandarin Oriental Barcelona in 2016. “My experience at ‘Moments’ featured constant innovation and focus on seasonal products,” he says about the Catalan and Mediterranean inspired restaurant. Stoop was also Chef de Partie at ‘The Fat Duck’; Heston Blumenthal’s iconic three Michelin star sanctuary for molecular gastronomy, in 2017. There, he experienced the values of discipline as well as innovation, which he believes is a part of finding one’s own style.
His expeditions in Europe, Indonesia, Morocco, Singapore, Nepal and India have helped Stoop find his niche in the world of food. And with his place in the Oberoi Group, he wishes to offer unmatched memories and experiences to every guest. “It is this vision of The Oberoi Group that has been so beautifully captured in experiences curated by the teams,” he believes.
The food festival
One of these new experiences involves chef Stoop flying down to Mumbai to present his ‘Confessions of a Culinary Traveler’ menu at Vetro, in The Oberoi, Mumbai. A tasting menu that takes diners on the chef’s very own culinary journey, offers dishes that he has hand-picked during his travels through Europe, with each course representing a different country with ingredients that highlight it. The du jour lunch menu consists of four courses while the gourmand dinner menu features five courses.
The meal commences with a glass of sparkling wine from the in-house wine library ‘Enoteca’, followed by an amuse-bouche. The first course that represents the United Kingdom features cucumber, sea buckthorn, and hazelnut as the star ingredients along with scallop for the non-vegetarian option. Spain is the second course – confit salmon, amaranth, black garlic and mustard sauce for non-vegetarians, and roasted cauliflower, morels and mustard sauce for vegetarians. The third-course showcases India with mango, ginger and lemon. France comes in next with lamb loin as the protein along with onion crème, potato gratin, asparagus and jus for non-vegetarian, and seasonal vegetables, corn puree, black garlic, and a demi-glace for vegetarian. The meal concludes with Germany for dessert, presenting Bavarian Crème, raspberry and thyme.
“Travel has impacted my culinary journeys by helping me break down barriers across the dinner table while bringing to my diners a bucket list of destinations and must-have food experiences, thereby exposing my guests not only to different cultures but to the way people live and eat,” chef Stoop reveals, believing in the undeniable link between travel and food. “My belief is that the best conversations are shared over a meal. I want my guests to leave with a feeling of having a multi-sensory experience that is not just restricted to what is on the plate, but the knowledge that is meaningful and inspiring to travel and eat more! And I would like to take this initiative further.”
What: ‘Confessions of a Culinary Traveller’ tasting menu by chef Christiaan Stoop Where: Vetro, The Oberoi, Mumbai When: Between July 11th and July 14th, 2019 How Much: 4 courses at Rs3000+ taxes, 5 courses at Rs5000+ taxes Call: 022 6632 5757 for reservations