599 South Collier Boulevard, Marco
Executive Chef/Owner, Konrad’s Seafood & Grille Room, 599 S. Collier Blvd., Marco Walk. Phone: 642-3332
Began working at present restaurant?
I opened my first Konrad’s restaurant across the street (Winterberry Drive) on March 15, 1985, and finished construction on the new building and opened Konrad’s Seafood and Grille Room at 599 S. Collier Blvd. on January 2, 1992.
Who or what inspired you to become a chef/cook?
Well, let’s put it this way: After I finished school, it was a tough time in Germany and my uncle asked me “Why don’t you become a chef? You’ll never go hungry.” So I took his advice and I started my apprenticeship in Stuttgart for two years, then Bavaria for a total of five years. I was already a chef when I worked five years in Switzerland, then England. This was followed by the Royal Viking Cruise Line’s Star and Sky sister ships for seven years, sailing on around the world cruises. It was all first class — 450 passengers and 312 staff — nothing like they have now!
What was your first restaurant job?
My first job in the United States was the Essex House in New York City, and then the Marriott brass asked if I wanted to come to Marco Island as executive chef at the Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort in February 1981. I accepted because it was very cold and one of the worst winters in New York.
How long have you been cooking professionally?
Thirty-eight, as a professional chef after my apprenticeship. Give or take a few years.
How would you describe your cooking style?
International, based on my travels and experience, but I’ve never forgotten my fatherland and my menu features many Bavarian specialties.
What is your most popular dish?
It’s hard to say. Snapper Kobe, a fillet of red snapper encrusted with wasabi and panko crumbs is often featured on our Specials for the Evening menu because people request it, but any of my German specialties are equally popular with both our American customers and our European friends. Then, of course, Duck Night on Tuesday offers roast duck prepared four different ways. Our Summer Lobster Specials menu features 1 ½ pound lobsters we fly in live from Boston prepared boiled or baked and stuffed, or in ravioli or Thermidor. It just can’t be beat!
What is your favorite wine?
Well, every night I enjoy a glass of California Merlot because it’s good for the heart.
Do you cook at home? If so, what would we always find in your fridge or freezer?
Yes, on my day off. I cook everything fresh — maybe some French dish — depending on the mood I’m in.
What is your secret ingredient? Why?
Fresh ingredients, as fresh as is possible without picking them yourself. Nothing beats fresh ingredients for taste.
What would you like to be doing if you weren’t a chef?
A rock star maybe? Forget that. I always wanted to be a pilot, but there wasn’t enough time I could devote to it.
What annoys you most in the kitchen?
What do you enjoy most about your profession?
I enjoy the creativity in cooking. I like to invent new dishes that I try out in my daily specials to keep my menu current. If it works, I can add it to my regular menu.