Hilton’s Chef de Cuisine, Joshua Goetz, gets a grilling from kids at the British School of Beijing
When he was ten, American Joshua Goetz, Chef de Cuisine at the Beijing Hilton, was cooking crepes alongside his mother. Now he’s in charge of a kitchen with over 80 staff, responsible for delivering huge volumes of top quality food to patrons at one of Beijing’s plushest hotels. Before moving to China ten months ago, Joshua worked in places as far flung as Thailand, Italy and Hawaii. With a specialty in American food, he’s still keen to absorb some of the culinary secrets that China has to offer. This Year 6 class from the British School of Beijing was hungry to meet Joshua and to learn just what it takes to cut the mustard as a top chef.
Jim Deer, UK
"Are you always looking for new foods to add to your menu?"
Joshua Goetz: All the time, especially in China. I like to cook with fresh food. If we get food from America, it’s all canned or packaged and it has to be frozen, so it’s not fresh. Once a week, I like to go to an open market and look for something that I’ve never seen before. Yesterday, I had purple peanuts from Taiwan. They were a little bit sweet and will be very good on ice cream with a little bit of chocolate sauce. I’m always looking for new ideas to set my restaurant apart from the everyday.
Ralph Maboreke, Zimbabwe
"If you weren’t a chef, what would you be?"
JG: I studied to be a doctor before I became a chef, but I wasn’t too sure about that. I always used to love biology and chemistry, so I’d probably have been a biochemist. Those are the people who make drugs for pharmaceutical companies. I did a lot of work with plant genetics, to help plants grow in environments where it’s hard for them. I found this rewarding but not as much as cooking, so I changed.
Grace Yang, US
"Do you like working in the Hilton or would you rather work in your own restaurant?"
JG: I used to cook for chefs who owned their own restaurants, but now I like working for the Hilton. There are a lot of support staff who help me do my job at the Hilton. We have a PR department to help me promote my image and bring people in to taste my food. I have a purchasing department who go out and buy my food. As a chef in New York, I’d clean my own kitchen with my cooks. In the hotel, I have a department of people who come in and clean for me.
Variya Ruangprateepsaeng, Thailand
"What kinds of food do you enjoy cooking with?"
JG: For me it’s not about one particular thing, it’s about changing. Today I might want to cook seafood and tomorrow I might want to cook pasta. It’s kind of like when you’re hungry and your mom asks you what you want to eat – I think about what I want to cook. My restaurant is mostly known for steaks so I like to cook them. I like cooking seafood as well because it requires a delicate touch to make it taste right.
Rangga Hermanu, Indonesia
"Why were you interested in being a chef?"
JG: It allowed me to express myself, like being an artist. Being a doctor you help people every day but it’s not like painting a picture. [Cooking] is free, and it’s more of an expression of what you’re feeling then and there. It allows me to express myself in some ways that I wouldn’t be able to do in other careers.
Alice Calow, UK
"How many meals do you cook a day?"
JG: Not counting meals for the staff? For the guests: breakfast, lunch, dinner and room service – maybe between 600 and a thousand. If you cook at home, maybe there are three or five people; I cook for three to five people in one minute. That’s what those 85 people who work with me are doing. During the 2008 Olympics, which will be a very busy time in Beijing, we’re going to be cooking for two to three thousand people a day. The food could probably fill ten trucks.
Jen Hong, Korea
"What food do you like to eat?"
JG: At home I eat a lot of sandwiches because I cook all day and the last thing I want to do is cook after I’ve finished work. Sometimes I just eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. When I go out to eat I like dumplings and dim sum. Japanese food is also really good, like sushi or sashimi.