As the executive chef of one of Sydney’s top CBD hotels, Thomas Heinrich knows all about working long hours. He also knows how guests at the Swissotel Sydney feel when they make it back to their room after a long day.
Sydney-born Heinrich began his career locally at Basil’s Seafood Restaurant before working in some of the world’s great cities, including New York, Chicago and Vancouver. Now back in Australia he’s enjoying using native Australian flavours especially at JPB, the hotel’s recently launched signature eatery.
But when you’re busy, it’s hard to find time to cook, so Business Insider asked Heinrich for his top tips on how to make quick and delicious dishes after a long day, because, as he explains, eating well is as important as doing a good job at work. And in his case, Heinrich does both.
Here are his tips, including some fantastic recipes that anyone can tackle with confidence.
- Pasta dishes are always easy and quick, and great for those who work out and need carbs in their diet.
His advice: Always make sure to put your pot of water for the pasta on the stove on at the beginning. To a frypan add 1 cup diced chicken breast, ½ cup diced tomato, 2 tbs chopped garlic, 1 cup baby spinach, salt, pepper and 4 tbs olive oil. Cooking and prep time: 30 minutes.
- If you’re keen on fish but not the smell, then try cooking it en papillote – in a paper parcel.
His advice: Take a piece of 200g fish with some diced potatoes (1cm), 2 lemon wedges, 2 sprigs of thyme, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 bay leaf and wrap it all in baking paper, then bake at 190- 200c for around 12 to 15 minutes. Accompany this with a salad.
- Quinoa or other types of grains, such as buckwheat or barley, make for a healthy and easy dish.
His advice: First, pot boil the grains. In another pan, sauté diced onions, carrots, celery and bell peppers. Once the grains are cooked, add these to your pan of vegetables and finish with olive oil, lemon juice, chopped herbs and salt and pepper. Heinrich also likes to add vinegar to this at the end.
- People ask why restaurants can produce food so quickly – mise en place is the answer. This means having key items ready to cook when the order comes in.
His advice: You can do this at home once a week – cutting and cleaning all the vegetables you’ll need for the next few days. Store these vegies in an air tight container, using diced onions, carrots, chopped garlic, diced and boiled potatoes and chopped ginger. You can even have boiled or baked chicken that you can dice and add to pastas or rice dishes. Most of your ingredients will last like this for up to three days. With this quick and easy method, you’ll cut down on how much prep you need for each meal, which will save you lots of time.
- A quick trip to an authentic Asian supermarket can make cooking at home fun, easy and fast. Items like dash powder make a great broth for seafood, or miso paste which is great on baked fish.
His advice: Take a nice white fish and cover the skin side with miso paste before baking in the oven for 15 minutes, and serving with some Asian greens and sliced ginger.
- Indigenous ingredients will add great flavour, even if they’re sometimes hard to come by.
His advice: Lemon myrtle is one of the easier ingredients to find and is great in salad dressings, sauces or soups. It’s also nice to mix with salt and use as a rub for a fish or seafood. He is using it as a sauce for our salmon dish on the new menu at Swissotel Sydney.
Wattle seed is another great indigenous ingredient, used in desserts or cocktails – adding a unique flavour to a brulee, custard, mousse, milkshake or ice cream.
Illawarra Plums are another favourite of Heinrich’s, and can be used to make jams or sauces and in chocolate.
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