Having been in the pastry industry for more than three decades just shows how much dedication a man has put into his craft. His sheer commitment to all his creations is an exact testimony of his devotion and hard work. Chef Gottfried Schuetzenberger is all that and more. He is an inspiration to his peers, many of whom would be more than willing to sing their praises for this man.
Hailing from Koenigswiesen, Austria, Chef Schuetzenberger began his culinary career in Austria. He had no problems striding into new territories when he travelled to Germany in 1980 after obtaining his Masters in Pastry. His craft has brought him to all over the world, giving him the opportunity to work in the kitchens of Europe, Middle East, Asia, Oceania and Latin America. This amounted to an amazing array of 25 countries, sharing his skills and imparting his knowledge to the people he met along the way.
Chef Schuetzenberger arrived in Singapore nearly a quarter of a century ago and he has made his mark in the local pastry industry ever since, working as the executive pastry chef of Grand Hyatt Singapore. In appreciation of all the contributions he has made to the hospitality industry especially, in the field of pâtisserie, he was recently honoured by the Austrian government. He was conferred the Silver Cross of Merit of the Republic of Austria (Das Silberne Verdienstzeichen Der Republik Oesterereich) by His Excellency Dr Klaus Wolfer, the ambassador of Austria to Singapore. In addition, he was also recognised as Pastry Chef Of The Year for three years (2004, 2005 and 2008) by the World Gourmet Summit Awards Of Excellence.
Throughout his career, Chef Schuetzenberger has also helped and led the regional and national teams to win numerous awards at various international exhibitions and competitions. Most notably, the Culinary Olympics in Frankfurt, Germany, Food&HotelAsia in Singapore and The Culinary Classics in Chicago, USA. He is also an appointed jury member of the World Association of Chefs Society (WACS) and he has judged at such prestigious competition as the Expo Gust Luxembourg and the Pastry World Cup. Not one to keep everything to himself, he is a man of humility, generosity and creativity. His passion for constantly crafting new pastry creations and advising, mentoring and guiding his peers have put him in a league of his own. Hence, this resulted in the high level of respect he has garnered until today.
Chef Schuetzenberger’s achievements speak volumes of his hard work, fortitude and commitment to his craft. Without doubt, he will most certainly be remembered as more than just a pastry chef. If anything, he is a culinary legend in the making.
Interview with Gottfried Schuetzenberger
What does being in the World Gourmet Summit Awards Of Excellence Hall Of Fame mean to you?
I think this is a very special recognition. It is a reflection of how the industry views me as an individual. It feels a little like the movie stars in Hollywood, like how they get inducted into the hall of fame as well. It’s definitely something everyone treasures a lot. Achieving this award is obviously an honour, and I will always treasure it.
Who / What inspires you?
There is a wide spectrum to this question. It could be Pierre Hermé, it could be Oriol Balaguer, it can also be my mum; because it depends on what I’m doing, and for whom I’m cooking for. If it comes to culinary highlights, I would do a lot of interpretations and combinations which are more sophisticated. If I have some friends over for dinner, I would refer to my mother’s cookbook to try out a recipe, which may be simple, but still very good and tasty.
Do you have a quote that you live?
I would say it’s either ‘You’re just as good as your staff’, or ‘You’re just as good as what you can teach or pass on to other people’. Because I believe that the more you contribute, the more comes back to you. It’s like if you share your knowledge with others, they, in turn will be more willing to share their knowledge with you as well. If you think as an individual, and just keep things to yourself, that’s wrong. The times of having the strong ego has passed.
What advice would you give to the younger generation who would like to follow in your footsteps?
I would say mastering the basics is the most important aspect in any profession. Many people think that you can simply dive straight into doing something, without learning the fundamentals, but this will always come back to work to their disadvantage later on in life. Once you know the basics, building up your skills from there is easy; which is why a good school which provides good training and apprenticeship is most important.
What other pastry techniques would you like to master?
There are a lot of things in the pastry field, like chocolates, ice cream, baking. I grew up in a bakery, which is why I would like to develop and add to my knowledge of baking more pastries. It’s a science, and there are never-ending new techniques. Even if you have 30 or 40 years in this industry, you’ll still not be able to completely master the whole spectrum of baking. Which is why, to me, baking is still the ultimate challenge.