Atop London's "Shard", chef Becker serves treats

Tue Jun 17, 2014 6:57am EDT
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By Matilda Egere-Cooper

LONDON (Reuters) - It's been just over a year since chef Rainer Becker opened OBLIX in the European Union's tallest building, but he admits the mission is not quite accomplished.

"It takes time for a restaurant to be there, where I have it in my head," Becker said, sitting in a corner of the 32nd floor restaurant in the Shard - the London skyscraper that looks a bit like a castle from the "Lord of the Rings" films.

"I think the first step, we achieved. It's busy and successful but there's a lot of detail work to be done that most people don't see, but I see."

The award-winning, German-born chef opened OBLIX in May 2013 in a departure from the Japanese tradition of the iconic Zuma and renowned Roka restaurants that made him famous at the turn of the new millennium.

After training in Michelin-starred restaurants in Germany, his love for Japanese food was established when he lived in Tokyo for six years working at the Park Hyatt hotel. He moved to London in 2002 to open Zuma in Knightsbridge with business partner Arjun Waney.

The launch of OBLIX came after 11 years of rapidly expanding the Zuma and Roka brands across the globe, so the plan was to venture into New York-style urban dining that would offer Becker a lunchtime alternative.

"I eat too much Japanese food every day," he said. "Japanese food is my passion because I lived in Japan. But I didn't want to do a Japanese concept. I like simple food and New York is one of my favorite cities."

"They have great restaurants and they're very multicultural, like London. We said, 'Let's do something where you can't pinpoint what we're doing', so it's not American cuisine. Like London, there's not really a London cuisine. It's multicultural."   Continued...