Executive chef Bernd Schmitt recently joined SoBe's Ritz-Carlton as the voice behind the hotel's entire culinary enterprise -- from in-room dining to the banquet program, to Bistro One LR, DiLido Beach Club, and the Lapidus Lounge.
We sat down with Chef Schmitt to find out what his plans are for future direction at the Ritz, and he says that his philosophy of "clean cuisine" will continue to evolve. He's in favor of focusing on quality ingredients without a lot of sauce and extraneous plate frou frou to muck it up, and he cites his own last meal as a "simple dish of pasta or fish." Straightforward delicious always works.
He's been cooking since he was six years old, at his family's chateau hotel property in Germany, and his past experience includes stints at the Four Seasons and Canyon Ranch. He even took on the role of corporate executive chef of LSG Sky Chefs where he spent time developing meals for British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, and Lufthansa. Obviously airlines are not exactly known for cuisine, and he does admit that there are "many, many challenges" to designing meals for flight consumption.
He's also served as a judge on Iron Chef and says that "it isn't too difficult to judge other chef's cuisine," but that it is hard to tell someone that their food is not quite living up to what it should be.
Even though he oversees a sizable staff and recognizes that he
"can't be everywhere at once," he relies on a solid team to maintain his
vision. It's obviously a big job, but he's enlisted a fellow newcomer, Andrew Balick, who
left Pied a Terre over the summer, to take the helm of DiLido. We'll get
a preview of Balick's eats this weekend when a few of his new menu additions
premiere at the first Full Moon Party of the season on Saturday at 8 p.m.
In the meantime, bring the Ritz home for dinner with Chef Schmitt's indulgent recipe for lobster risotto. It takes some work, and it doesn't necessarily fit into a butter and cream free philosophy, but we'd choose it as our last meal for certain. It starts with a bisque base and includes a "lobster butter" made with mascarpone cheese.
Lobster Risotto by Executive Chef
For the lobster bisque:
2 quarts water
1 lb. tomatoes
1/2 cup white wine
2 pieces lobster shells
1/4 cup thyme
2 bay leaves
Sweat onions, add tomatoes and sweat until liquid is almost entirely evaporated, then deglaze with white wine, and again, reduce the liquid until almost entirely evaporated.
Add crushed lobster bodies, sweat, and add herbs and bay leaves. Sweat for 45 minutes.
For the lobster butter:
1/4 lb. Lobster meat, cooked, including roe
1 cup clarified butter
1/2 cup whole butter
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
Beat roe and heat clarified butter, gradually add hot butter to the roe and whisk until bright red.
Fold into whole butter and the mascarpone cheese.
Form and chill.
For the risotto:
1/2 cup shallots
1/4 cup chopped garlic
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup Arborio rice
2 tablespoons thyme leaves
Sweat shallots and garlic, deglaze with white wine and allow to reduce.
Add rice and toast lightly, add thyme and stir. Add hot bisque, just enough to cover, and continue to stir until the liquid reduces. Add more bisque until desired tenderness.