In this online exclusive, we have the pleasure of sharing Chef Profiles on the remarkably talented Thomas Koch and Simon Hulstone. With a career spanning 16 years, Thomas has had the role of Head Chef at Severin*s for almost two years now. Simon Hulstone is the Chef Owner of The Elephant by Simon Hulstone – a longstanding Michelin-starred restaurant in Torquay. The culinary gods have now come together as earlier this year Severins*s – The Alpine Retreat in Lech Austria, announced an exclusive 4-hands chef event with Simon Hulstone this spring. 

With just nine glorious private suites, Severin*s is the apotheosis of quiet luxury in Europe’s most
exclusive ski location.

For the event, Thomas will welcome one of the UK’s most admired and loved chefs, Simon Hulstone, for collaborative showcase dinners for residents and non-residents this March. 

Tell us about your role as a chef and what inspired the collaboration with The Alpine Retreat.

Thomas: Severin*s is a wonderful retreat within the heart of Lech. For the collaboration, we wanted to introduce individually designed menus weaving our two cultures and signature cuisines together, creating a dynamic meal for guests and visitors in Lech to enjoy.

Simon: For me, I was keen to familiarise myself with the region’s ingredients and to gain an understanding of Thomas’ philosophy and approach to using them. I enjoy collaborating with young chefs from very different establishments and seeing how both our styles work together. We both use a farm to plate style but in very different parts of Europe – for me it’s mainly about coastal ingredients whereas for Thomas it’s the produce of the mountains.

What can guests expect from the 4 Hands Chef event at Severin*s – The Alpine Retreat?

Thomas: An impressive journey showcasing our signature dishes along with infusing the menu with local alpine ingredients. I am thrilled to be working with an excellent British Michelin chef, Simon, with whom we will create a unique culinary event guests.

Simon: It’s going to be interesting from both sides, chef Thomas will be raising the bar to promote the best of Austria and specifically the Lech region and I’ll be there to showcase the best of the UK and South Devon. For guests it will be a great opportunity to see the best of both countries. 

How can unique events like this benefit a hotel?

Thomas: If these events are successful in their specific segment, they will be an asset to the hotel and the UK market. They create an additional element of interest for guests to opt for dining in the hotel rather than going out. It also allows for the F&B teams to work closely with other hotels and world-renowned chefs to constantly evolve and create unique culinary experiences for guests.

Simon: These events add a point of difference to the hotel and its guests who are used to having same dishes. Bringing in a chef from outside the region gives an alternative option which is at the higher end of the food scene – this encourages guests to stay inside the hotel restaurant rather than dine elsewhere. 

Tell us about the menu planned for the event and what the inspiration behind it was.

Thomas: Simon and I will be presenting guests with seasonal inspired cuisine, mostly sourced from local Austrian vendors. This allows us to create elements of localism while also exploring Simon’s unique and signature dishes from The Elephant in Torquay.

Simon: I wanted to showcase what The Elephant in Torquay serves for its signature dishes, dishes that I’m comfortable with but that will translate well in a European market whilst also using local Austrian ingredients that I’m familiar with to add a local twist.

As a respected figure in the culinary world, how do you ensure your work has a “signature” element?

Thomas: It must taste good; not just in flavour but in quality ingredients. Sourcing locally at Severin*s allows us to understand and procure the best ingredients possible that are put into every dish we create. I like to think my “signature” element is delicious food, sourced locally and of course, presented beautifully.

Simon: For a chef at this level you need to be constantly evolving by eating out, speaking with other chefs and following trends. However, you also need to keep grounded and be consistent by using the best of what there is available locally and seasonally.

What are your tips for hospitality professionals looking to advance or advance their careers at a specific venue?

Thomas: A solid education, whether locally or abroad, this is crucial to learn the basic training needed in order to succeed. I think gaining real-world experience in your chosen sector of hospitality is also an important stepping-stone. Continue to learn and train as you progress in the industry, it is a lifelong pursuit.

Simon: Choose the best chef and establishment to work with. Be clear on the philosophy you want to follow and listen!

Tell us what you hope to achieve with your cooking and collaborations like this one.

Thomas: Most important is to keep the guests happy, but I also particularly enjoy working with other chefs in the industry. I love that we are able to learn and teach each other about our signature dishes and how they might come together.

Simon: Collaborations like this provide a showcase, not only for my restaurant but for the British culinary scene. They demonstrate that British food and chefs are a force to be reckoned with on the global culinary scene.  I also enjoy working with young, ambitious chefs to give them a new platform and share my experience.