Chef Tim Schmidt – Executive Chef of Athénée Palace Hilton Bucharest

more than a year ago
Chef Tim Schmidt is the Executive Chef of Athénée Palace Hilton Bucharest, where he leads all the hotel’s culinary teams, handling both the kitchen operations in the hotel’s restaurants – Roberto’s, Café Athénée and English Bar, as well as the room service and outside catering/banqueting services. He’s an internationally experienced chef with over 18 years of expertise in hospitality, who brings an extra touch of creativity, passion and extensive know-how to the hotel’s culinary operations.

Before joining the Hilton family in 2015, Tim has held several chef positions in hotels and restaurants across Europe, such as ME Hotel London, The Bleeding Heart restaurant in London, Hotel Salzburger Hof in Bad Gastein, Grand Spa Resort A-Rosa Kitzbuhel, and Kempinski Hotels in Hamburg and Moscow.

Tim’s inspiration comes from his multicultural background, having worked with chefs from more than sixteen different nations throughout his professional development. His diverse experience helps him lead his team to new ideas and innovative concepts, which are very welcomed in a hotel with different themed outlets and requests for customized events such as Athénée Palace Hilton.

What made you decide to become a chef?
When I was younger I would help my family in the kitchen; that was the time when I found my passion for food and cooking. Then, having discovered this inclination towards the tastes and cooking, at the age of 16 I started working during holidays for a catering company. It was then when I realized I want to become a chef and proceeded with my studies in this direction. I then graduated of Freie Waldorf School, Hannover-Maschsee, holding my apprenticeship in Restaurant Die Insel, Hannover, and further developed my culinary vocation in The Gastronomic Training Centre of Koblenz.

Who has been your biggest influence?
The biggest influence around my cooking style and my career was and still is my first chef, Norbert Schu from “die Insel” in Hannover, with whom I worked for three years as a trainee in his restaurant. He taught me everything from the basics to the high end. We are still in contact and it is always nice to talk and meet with him, as he still gives me advice and support whenever I need.

What’s your favorite ingredient to cook with and why?
I am very fond of the French cuisine, which is my favorite cuisine to cook. And here, for example, there are many ingredients which are important for creating an amazing meal, like salt or herbs, but one of the most marvelous ingredients is Butter. It is so amazing to work with it, as butter gives taste and structure to a plate, and takes out the aroma from different herbs and conveys it into the dish.

If you could cook for and dine with anyone, who would that be?
That’s a difficult question, for to dine with someone isn’t that hard to answer, but to cook and dine with a certain someone is more difficult to think of. I would say that the person I would like to have the opportunity to cook with and dine with would be Eckart Witzigmann, an Austrian Chef and an old patron of the Nouvelle Cuisine, from whom I can still learn a lot.

Which is the dish you call your Signature dish?
My signature dish would be a 24-hours Braised Short Ribs with Mashed Potatoes and Braised Root Vegetables. That was a dish I cooked for the first time in 2006 when I was working in the US, and over the years until know I improved it every time. I still get a lot of compliments for this dish, about the tenderness and the combination of the flavors, and I still love cooking it every time.

What do you think is 2019’s biggest food trend?
I think the main trend for 2019 is still to eat healthy, including eating less meat. That is why we have also included in our hotel’s own restaurants vegan and vegetarian dishes, which can be adapted to anyone’s choice. Another trend would be going back to original cooking, meaning not too many fancy ingredients but focusing more on the taste, making it full and sexy. We have this philosophy in our restaurants as well – in Roberto’s, following the Italian simplicity, we use less ingredients, but combine them wisely, so that to create delicious dishes, and as well in Café Athénée, where we prepare classic dishes with a modern twist, carefully cooked and composed plates, without any attempt of complicating the dish more than we should.

What can guests expect when they eat at your restaurants?
Guests who come to our restaurants can expect quality and taste full food, fair pricing with fresh ingredients and signature dishes which are representative for certain cuisines. For example, in Roberto’s we have the “pura cucina italiana” concept, which means tasting Italian food at its best and cooking authentic Italian recipes where simplicity is the heart of each and every plate. While in Café Athénée guests can taste French dishes with a modern twist and Romanian reinterpreted recipes; so, for example, guests can enjoy varieties going from soups and seafood specialties, to exceptional meat recipes, signature salads and fromage plateaus, as well as fabulous home-made desserts from the Pastry Corner.

What are your favorite Romanian dishes?
Since I moved to Romania, I fell in love with Sarmale. I like the combination of the Sour Cabbage with the meat. It also reminds me a bit of home. 

Where do you eat out?
I try to eat out in Bucharest as much as I can, to see also the competition we have here. I do have some preferred venues, but I’m very open-minded so I will try everything, from local cuisine to Asian and international, and even the new openings in the city. Whenever I eat out, an important aspect for me, together with the food, of course, is the feeling in a restaurant or bar, as it should be a modern style or a warm welcoming atmosphere.

How is the food scene in Bucharest?
The food scene of Bucharest is going up and up; a lot of talented young chefs are opening restaurants and improving the market in the city. I’m interested to see the development in the next years. I think Bucharest has a great potential culinary speaking, it offers many opportunities for chefs to grow and the market to expand in the number of restaurants and types of cuisines.


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