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The Caterer

A minute on the clock

24 February 2005
A minute on the clock

Rainer Becker is executive chef at Zuma and Roka, and last week won the Tatler award for Best Restaurant in London and the title of Best Chef. Lottie Lumsden went to meet him

Lottie Lumsden: How did you feel about Zuma winning the Tatler Best Restaurant award?
Rainer Becker: Absolutely delighted. We've continued to win awards over the past three years since Zuma opened, which is great as it shows consistency, and that people are still recognising all the hard work we put in.
LL: How did you celebrate when you won the award?
RB: In the same way we always celebrate at Zuma and Roka - a staff party with plenty of Champagne. The award is thanks to a tremendous team effort, so it only seemed natural to celebrate together. I am blessed to have such a great team behind me.
LL: You've had a pretty good year. Have you made any New Year resolutions?
RB: We've had a fantastic year, full of highlights. I won the Tatler Chef of the Year award as well as Best Restaurant award. The performance of Zuma has increased, Roka opened and is doing exceptionally well and I have been able to travel all over the world. What more could I ask for? And no, I never make New Year resolutions.
LL: What do you cook at home?
RB: Everything and anything. Why are people always so curious about what chefs cook at home? I love the flavour of Italian food, so I cook a lot of pasta. I'm a big fan of roast dinners, too.
LL: What's your favourite food?
RB: Sushi, any time of the day - morning, noon or night. It's so refreshing. I always have Parmesan in the fridge, too, as it's a favourite of mine. I love to eat it on pasta or best of all, on its own with bread and olive oil.
LL: Do you ever eat take-away pizza?
RB: Never. It's not fresh enough. Once it's travelled halfway across London it's hardly going to taste great. I'm partial to a shish kebab, though - if it's done well.
LL: Where did you last eat out?
RB: I ate at the Wolseley, and it was delicious. I had oysters, onion soup and r"tisserie roast chicken. I eat out a lot if I have the time.
LL: Any new restaurants planned for this year?
RB: Not this year. At some point I want to open a restaurant that isn't Japanese, but I'll keep that under my hat for now.

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