Chef Peter Find brings the warmth and conviviality found in the most social room of the house—the kitchen— and takes us on a trip through various regions of Germany through his elevated German cuisine.
Hong Kong was rich in Japanese, French, Spanish and Italian restaurant openings this year, so when news broke that a German restaurant was opening in the heart of Lan Kwai Fong, curiosity ensued.
Having spent decades of his culinary career in Hong Kong, Chef Peter Find was ready to take us beyond the currywurst and schnitzel and introduce us to the world of German fine dining. His new restaurant Heimat, located in LKF tower, is warm and inviting—the aegean blue, peach and stone colours immediately transport you out of the city commotion and into a serene space.
Past the show kitchen and the Berkel scale, which Chef Find painstakingly brought over despite its astronomical weight, are cosy banquettes typically found in German houses, where diners can break bread (and pretzels) and try Heimat’s tasting menu composed of crowd-favourite Koenigsberger Klopse, Brittany Lobster with 58 degree cooked egg with herb sauce, a tender seabass with goulash jus, and a personal favourite—the prime beef sirloin with onions three ways. The meal culminates in a medley of colourful Haribo candy, served under the watchful eye of a teddy bear.
What makes dinner at Heimat a charming experience is not only the food but also the chef’s personal touches and a fervent passion for what he does. After an impromptu sing-along of Haribo’s theme song—Chef Find sang it in German and I in French—the chef opened up about his childhood memories and his interpretation of German cuisine—while I snuck in a few more gummy bears.
What side of German cuisine do you want guests to discover through your dishes?
I wanted to focus on four main regions, particularly the areas I worked in. People always think of German cuisine as meat-focused, like in Bavaria, which I do highlight. But in the northern part, closer to Denmark, there is a lot of diversity, especially in seafood. I wanted to balance a little bit of meat with seafood and to create dishes that aren’t too sweet for the local palate. Though you will still find pork dishes [laughs].
Of course I wanted to highlight my hometown Bersrod which never gets proper credit, people usually know about the Frankfurt sausage because Frankfurt is close by but there is so much more. Then there is the Black Forest because of its history and there were a couple of dishes which I really wanted to feature like the beef and the noodles, whose chewy texture people seem to love.
You’ve incorporated some more Asian elements in traditional dishes and I heard you used the smokehouse in Aberdeen…
We want to support the small local companies even if we are still importing products. The ones that give us the flowers, microgreens and the heritage pork…they are all local. The advantage is the freshness and the quality.
I’ve been in Hong Kong for so long, I really watch out for salt, particularly in the soups, and then of course we reduce the sugar when we can, without compromising the authenticity of the dishes. People like the desserts because they are less sweet, but still refreshing.
You've brought many items from your home. I remember there were cookbooks from your mother's place. Can you talk a little bit about the decor and how incorporating that sense of home is important to you?
As the name Heimat already shows, it’s about the home, the homeland. I think it’s very important that the customer comes in and feels a homey feeling upon arrival. I want them to see something that they maybe have at home, like a pottery or cookbook, in my case they’re all German [laughs], but something they can relate to.
When you come into the restaurant, the floor looks like the cobblestones that you can find in my village. And then we have this kind of show kitchen. During my childhood everything was happening in the kitchen. Cooking, doing homework, reading the newspaper…it's the social place. Yes, we would go to the living room, maybe for big birthdays but nobody would just sit there, it’s too boring. The kitchen is for Saturday mornings when you wake up and you can hear all the machines going and at the end you have a great cake to enjoy together.
I’ve gotten a lot of questions about our show kitchen, and we’ve had birthday celebrations there, it’s supposed to be for 10-15 minutes but once people sit they don’t want to move.
Then when you move into the dining room there is this bench seating. In many German houses you have this eckbank—corner bench—and people love sitting there, especially the kids. I just wanted people to feel comfortable. You need people to make any place alive and give it good energy.
I still tell people how you changed my mind about peas. This pea soup with smoked ocean trout is now engraved in my mind!
The typical dish is a pea stew with overcooked cream. It’s mushy and it’s never been a favourite on anyone’s table. If you add a little bit of other products to something classic, you can make it interesting. It has the smokiness from the Frankfurt sausage, but using smoked salmon instead, then you have the pea flavour that is lifted up with lemon and mint. It’s a simple dish but it’s elegant, it has a lot of layers.
What was the inspiration behind the bear candy trolley?
Every kid likes gummy bears right? In Germany, our Haribo candy slogan says it’s not just for the kids, but also for the adults. We wanted to do something Willy Wonka style, and we thought what if we do a trolley of candy? Then my friend gave me this teddy bear that is from Germany and we were like let’s put it on the gummy bear trolley! So now we have 12 flavours, and we will have some seasonal ones. We will have two to three Christmas flavours, like apple cinnamon flavours or candy shaped like a reindeer.
There is a gummy bear called Rote Grütze, which is also one of the desserts I feature. I do a berry compote and at the bottom there is a vanilla sponge. Then I add this special Haribo gummy bear that has red fruit chilli on the side. So far the red chilli and ginger ones are the most adventurous. Gin and tonic also. Did you know the most adventurous crowd is the older generation? They love it! They fill up their plates!
Speaking of seasonal, what special menu do you have going on right now?
We have a chanterelle mushroom a la carte seasonal menu for about 2 months. We recently received the first batch from France, then will get small ones from Austria until about mid-September. We have chanterelle soup, dumplings, scrambled eggs, or a portion of mushrooms on their own with a shallot cream. It’s the peak season and not something to miss out on!
Heimat | 8/F LKF Tower, 33 Wyndham St, Central