Interview with Hagen Ohtmann: Star chef rather than cafeteria cook

"I see us as a big family" - Company chef Hagen Ohltmann brings star cuisine directly to the workplace.

After an apprenticeship in a star restaurant, Hagen Ohltmann was drawn to corporate catering. Since then, the chef of the SUND Group provides everyone with specially coordinated dishes, which he even brings to the workplace during the Corona pandemic. How good food looks for a complete company, what he has to pay attention to in his work and what tips he has for healthy eating, he tells in the interview.

How did you come to SUND and what did you do before?

Hagen Ohltmann: I am a classically trained chef and worked in corporate catering for seven years after my apprenticeship in a Michelin-starred restaurant. That's how I met Wolfgang Dede and that's how I came to SUND in 2014.

What was the convincing argument to switch from star gastronomy to corporate gastronomy?

I wanted to work in community catering, because you have better working hours there, usually as a cook you work in the evening and on weekends. At some point, I didn't want to do that anymore.

Is there freedom to be creative in the kitchen?

Yes, totally. I put together the menu from fresh and regional products, our delivery chef is the perfect complement to this. Colleagues are also allowed to request food and I then try to include that in the menus.

How do you design good nutrition for a company?

You should cook with fresh vegetables as much as possible and pay attention to a balanced diet. For this I offer the vegetable of the day, for example, cauliflower. I think this is important. In addition, you should make sure not to cook too greasy, you can always reduce the fat. That's what I consider healthy eating, if you reduce the carbohydrate-rich foods and put more balance on the menu.

Is it demanding to feed so many people at the same time?

It is always demanding. You have to meet special needs, I have to respond to that. I cook two hot dishes and prepare small salad plates and desserts, so three dishes that change every day. But in the restaurant, I easily have 60 to 70 dishes on the menu. A fully booked restaurant with 130 guests from appetizer to dessert, you have to prepare 300 different dishes. That's a lot more stress than here at SUND.

Many people have special requests, are vegan or have an allergy. How do you deal with that?

I am well equipped to take care of any request. It is challenging, but is part of it. I see us as one big family.

Is there a favorite dish at SUND?

I don't think so. Very popular are the spaghetti with fried salmon cubes or the classic beef roulades on red cabbage. For that I often get positive feedback.