What's Cookin' Cayman - Interview with Chef Christian Reiter

Candid Q&A's from one of Cayman's most 'colourful' chefs

Chef Christian Reiter
The Wharf

At what age did you know you wanted to be a professional Chef and what was the first dish you learned to cook?
I was around five years. There were several things I learned from my mother: different cakes, the famous Wiener Schnitzel and a pan roasted local mushroom dish.

Who or what inspires your cooking?
I grew up on a farm and we always had a plentiful supply of fresh home-grown vegetables, fruit and meat. We also had access to wild grown berries, mushrooms and nuts from the nearby forest. All these things inspired my love for food and cooking it.

What famous dish is unique to your hometown or country?
Austrian cuisine was influenced by the Austrian-Hungarian Empire and of course our neighbouring countries like Italy and Germany.

What is the most overrated ingredient?
For me personally it is smoothies, shakes, pasta and lobster.

What condiment can you not do without?
There are several: garlic, mustard, any type of spicy chili and fresh herbs.

If you had your own cooking show, what would you call it?
“Eat the World” or “Happy Hour For Happy People.”

What’s your favourite late-night snack?
My wife’s home cooked Caribbean style dinners or cold cuts and cheese.

Have you ever cooked for anyone famous?
Just recently I cooked for Mr Al Pacino. I have also cooked for Mr Lee Lacocca; he was here for New Year’s Eve some years ago and I have cooked for Mr Terry Bradshaw NFL, Mr Howe Long NFL, Mr Rajon Rondo NBA, Mr Allen Iverson NBA and Meatloaf, to name just a few.

What is your most humorous chef moment?
The most memorable ones include plating food in rough seas while I was working on a luxury yacht-style cruise ship; you would turn around and the plate was gone - it had fallen onto the floor. Or the special orders or requests from our guests at The Wharf: like can I have my steak cut in two and one cooked medium rare and the other well done. Or the time I was a chef in Sydney, Australia and I triggered the fire alarm by grilling lots of baby eggplants. The restaurant was on the 8th floor of a 30 story hotel building with a shopping centre at the bottom. There was chaos for some time!