Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore
- 200 International Drive, Baltimore, Maryland, 21202, U.S.A.
Four Seasons Tenure
- Since 1996
- First Four Seasons Assignment: Senior Line Cook, The Pierre Hotel, New York (formerly a Four Seasons Hotel)
- Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver; Four Seasons Resorts Lana’i; Four Seasons Hotel Miami; Four Seasons Hotel Washington, DC; Four Seasons Hotel London; The Pierre Hotel, New York (formerly a Four Seasons Hotel); Bellevue Palace, Berne, Switzerland; Bammes, Nuremberg, Germany
- Nuremberg, Germany
- Culinary school, final examination with the Nuremberg Chamber of Commerce
- English and German
Oliver Beckert is all over the place as Executive Chef of Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore, and that suits him just fine. “I opened seven restaurants for Four Seasons in Lana’i, so I know how get a hotel up and running from scratch,” he says, bubbling at the thought of blue prints, hard hats and laying out three kitchens at the Hotel’s new Inner Harbor address. “We have two open kitchens that are important for giving chefs a feel for the clientele. These days, a good meal is as much about being entertained as about the food.”
Baltimore has teamed Beckert with renowned restaurateur Michael Mina, who fashioned a contemporary take on traditional tavern food for breakfast, lunch and dinner at Wit & Wisdom, A Tavern by Michael Mina. The two have crossed paths before, sort of. Following Beckert’s departure from Four Seasons Hotel Washington, Mina recast the Hotel restaurant as BOURBON Steak, offering nifty twists on traditional steakhouse fare.
Beckert, meanwhile, headed for Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver, where he turned YEW Restaurant into a must-dine destination for increasingly ravenous local foodies. “The great thing about Mina is his ability to get the latest trends just right,” says Beckert, who contacted former colleagues in Washington before arriving to flesh out what makes the restaurateur tick. “His focus is always the ingredients, so we’re taking a good look at farmers markets and seafood and meat suppliers to assure that everything starts with best product.”
When the dust settles in Baltimore, Beckert will also oversee Pabu, the city’s prime setting for Japanese sushi and sake; the breakfast and lunch spot LAMILL COFFEE; as well as a seasonal outdoor pool grill overlooking the Inner Harbor. “I think the city has been hungry for a five-star hotel and dining experience like ours for some time.”
Beckert was born for the kitchen. Family photographs reveal a three-year-old learning the art of hearty German cuisine from his grandmother. “A fantastic cook,” he recalls. “My mother always worried I’d take my fingers off chopping onions and carrots. Then they realised, this boy likes to cook.”
Schoolwork wasn’t Beckert’s thing, but he took to restaurants with ease, scoring an apprenticeship at a Michelin-starred dining room in Nuremberg before moving onto a five-star hotel in Bern, Switzerland. He joined Four Seasons on the line at The Pierre in New York and then hopped to London and Washington, DC, before opening Miami, Lana’i and Vancouver. His experience ranges widely from the German cuisine of his youth to the Italian he learned in the military. Hawaii provided tropical inspirations, and coastal Canada found him focusing on “strong flavours and seafood.”
Now returned to the east coast, Beckert is happy to be back near his favourite sports teams – the New York Rangers and Jets – and overseeing Baltimore’s top-of-the-line dining experience. “It’s not always easy being an Executive Chef, as sometimes I miss the actual cooking,” he admits, noting that he spends less time in the kitchen these days than he’d like. Then again, unveiling three restaurants to a hungry city offers plenty of rewards. “Unfortunately the day is only 24 hours long.”