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22 May 2019
LIFESTYLE

Like grandmother used to make

Heinz Beck and Hero De Agostinis speak to WEALTH Arabia about Beck at Brown’s, their newest Italian restaurant located in Mayfair, London inside the sumptuous Brown’s Hotel

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Heinz Beck may be Germanborn, but there are few more influential and highly respected Italian chefs in the world. His signature restaurant, La Pergola, sitting atop a picturesque hill in Rome, is one of only ten three Michelinstarred restaurants in the whole of Italy, and likely its most famous.

Heinz began his career at the Professional School in Passau, Bavaria before cutting his teeth in some of Europe’s finest kitchen, including the three Michelin-starred Tantris in Munich. He quickly moved on. In 1991, Beck accepted the position of Sous Chef at Residenz Heinz Winkler in Aschau.

After honing his skills at Residenz, Heinz moved to Rome in 1994 to La Pergola where he was awarded his three Michelin stars. In 2000, he was honoured with the ‘Golden Medal of the Artists Foyer’ from La Sapienza Rome University. Though he’s now looked after La Pergola for 25 years when he became its executive chef, he has since expanded his reach across Europe.

Recently, he opened another Italian restaurant, this time in London—it’s called Beck at Brown’s, located at the Brown’s hotel in Mayfair. Putting his own name in the title makes it hard to separate the restaurant from the man himself.

Beck tells WEALTH Arabia that was the intention. “For me, it provides a stamp of authenticity and sincerity. I feel extremely proud to be a part of Brown’s iconic heritage and believe the name ‘Beck’ provides a sense of confidence to guests, ensuring they will receive consistent unrivalled service and exquisite food,” says Beck.

The philosophy behind the restaurant is to take some of the DNA of La Pergola and put it in a more contemporary, relaxed setting—the type of place one can go for a nice occasion, rather than a once in a lifetime visit booked months in advance. “Beck at Brown’s is a perfect combination of causal dining and fine Italian fare.

The restaurant provides the freshest and most seasonal dishes which are accessible to all and to be enjoyed in the most iconic and fashionable spot in Mayfair of course!” says Beck. If readers are wondering what exactly Beck has taken from La Pergola, and you’re hoping that we say ‘pasta’—you’re in luck.

For Beck, pasta will always be the most comforting and essential dish in the Italian kitchen. “The most enjoyable dish to cook for others has and always will be homemade pasta. Pasta enables you to be creative, incorporating both classic and innovative recipe,” says Beck.

To look after Beck at Brown’s on the ground, Beck turned to one of his oldest collaborators—Heros De Agostinas. In 1995, just one year after Beck joined La Pergola, Heros De Agostinis began his culinary career in La Pergola’s kitchen.

It is not just Beck that he has collaborated with since--from then on, Heros continued to develop a portfolio of experience at some of the world’s top Michelin-starred restaurants, working alongside three Michelin-starred chefs such as Heinz Winkler and Marc Veyrat.

In 1999, he took on the role of demichef de partie at three-starred Residenz Heinz Winkler, in Ashau, Germany. He then went on to work with luxury resorts group Kempinski for key restaurant openings Indonesia and Slovenia. It was in 2009 that Heros to La Pergola and Beck’s side, spending three years as Beck’s right-hand man.

In 2012, Heros moved to London becoming Executive Chef at Apsleys, earning one Michelin star before it closed in 2015, then going on to be Executive Chef at Heinz Beck’s newest opening, Beck at Brown’s in Mayfair. Beck’s career may have begun with Beck, but his culinary journey began much earlier. “My first memories as a child was in my Grandmother’s kitchen tasting flavours and spices of North Africa.

The ingredients, flavours and smells captivated my imagination. My passion for food evolved from seeing how she enjoyed cooking for the family whilst making everyone feel at ease… it was a very happy place to be,” De Agostinis tells WEALTH Arabia. “I decided to become a chef at the age of 12 years old.

From my early years I found myself in a kitchen or a Roman market looking for new ingredients, discovering new flavours, always seeking out and enjoying different dishes.” Working in countries outside of Italy has helped expand De Agostinis’ cooking philosophy. “My philosophy is to focus on seasonal produce and ensure every dish looks beautiful, colourful and tasty.

I also try to serve food which is healthy. My knowledge and experience has grown through my joy of travelling, I have been fortunate to work in many countries, which has opened my mind to different cultures and approaches to food,” he says. What did he learn from Heinz Beck? “Wow, where do I start! I was young, excited and eager to learn when I first met Chef Heinz Beck.

He has not only been a mentor but also a prominent figure in my life. To work with Heinz Beck for nearly 20 years at La Pergola was the best life lesson.

The key thing which I have always appreciated is what Chef Chef Heinz Beck and my grandmother had in common—never accept second best; smile and most importantly love your work as much as life,” says De Agostinis.

At La Pergola, De Agostinis learned that meticulously looking after the food was just as important as how you treat the customer. “The attention to detail; making guests happy and comfortable from the minute they walk in; and creating a welcoming environment where you feel like you are with friends and family,” De Agostinis highlights about La Pergola.

The world of haute cuisine has evolved in recent decades, making borders less defined and distances seemingly shorter. “In the last 20 years the world has got a lot smaller, where various cultures and flavours have intermingled. You no longer have to travel far to experience different cuisines and restaurants, everything is so much more global.

You don’t need to have a restaurant next to the Coliseum to have great Italian food, you can have a great Italian restaurant in a suburb of London,” says De Agostinis. De Agostinis and Beck approach the menu to Beck at Brown’s “like Vivaldi, focusing on the four seasons,” and the restaurant’s design “reflects the different colours and cultures from around the world, with a nod to its British heritage,” says De Agostinis, though it is still very much an Italian restaurant.

While Beck loves his pasta, De Agostinis has a different favorite dish to cook. “Risotto with scallops, caraway seeds and pickled cucumber,” he sas. The response to the restaurant has been positive thusfar. “I think our guests really appreciate our use of unique flavours whilst providing a comforting, homely appeal to our dishes,” says De Agostinis.

In the future, while De Agostinis is enjoying his journey at Brown’s, he would like to try something that is both innovative and a call back to a his grandmother’s kitchen. “I’d love to open a restaurant without a menu and without any choices of dishes. I would serve unique cuisine focusing on the best ingredients from the markets available on that day.”

After WEALTH Arabia made the journey from Dubai to the new restaurant, we can affirm that it is exactly what Beck and De Agostinis promised. It certainly created the warm, friendly atmosphere, full of laughs and shouts of ‘oh you have to try this!’ that the best restaurants do, while also transporting the quality of La Pergola, with its unforgettable pastas, beverages and combinations of tastes and textures.

While La Pergola might be a once in a lifetime experience, WEALTH Arabia will certainly be going back to Beck at Brown’s soon. We also wholly recommend you stay at Brown’s as well—it is perhaps the best hotel we’ve stayed at in London.

It is as lovingly crafted as you could hope, each suite named and individually designed, complete with hardwood floors, and a classic and modern mix of design by Olga Polizzi, the sister of Sir Rocco Forte himself. The 115 rooms and 33 suites are full of wonderful details and accoutrements—it will be hard to leave. 

 

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