Executive Chef of the Dockside Group Heiner Volkens

As you know, here at P&H it is not just our products that we value and take pride in, but for us relationships and connections within the P&H family are just as valuable and important. Not only the relationships amongst our staff, but also the relationships we have with our customers, clients and the wider P&H community. For us food is a passion and a way to create connection, a shared love that extends far beyond just what you see on the plate. Many of our customers have been with us for years and many since the very beginning and we consider our customers our family.

One such client and member of the P&H family is executive chef Heiner Volkens; Heiner manages and runs the kitchens of event and function venues the Dockside and L’Aqua, which are part of the Dockside Group. Overlooking the beautiful Darling Harbour these venues attract customers from far and wide, the kitchens constantly a buzz producing meals for anywhere up to 12 000 guests per week during their peak season.

Heiner has worked all over the globe managing some of the most elite restaurants and function venues. But along the way he has remained as humble as ever. A true master of the craft, this week we went behind the scenes and visited Heiner and his team amongst the action at the Dockside. Warmly welcomed into his kitchen with a smile and inviting handshake, you can see from the moment you step into his domain he truly is at home.

And to our surprise, we were also greeted by a delectable spread of our very own Duck Leg confit served on a bed of braised cabbage and red currant, teamed with crispy fondant potatoes cooked in duck fat, topped with a marmalade relish and drizzled in a caramelised jus with flavours of cinnamon, star anise and orange. A foodie’s heaven on a plate! As we tucked into the amazing tasting that Heiner had especially prepared for our visit, we sat down to chat and get the low down on why Heiner has and continues to choose P&H Fine Foods, and as a chef who values quality and flavour what he looks for when choosing to partner with suppliers.


Pic: Duck Leg confit served on a bed of braised cabbage and red currant, teamed with crispy fondant potatoes cooked in duck fat

Heiner, why do you choose P&H fine Foods?

P&H has and always will be specialised; they are the forerunners, offering a point of difference that other suppliers just don’t have. Everything these days is bulk produced, but at P&H they are innovative and consistent. I can order hundreds of portions from them and be guaranteed that each one is the same size, and consistent in quality and flavour. For a chef that’s huge. We could order duck legs for an entire function and each one would be a different portion size; can you imagine how hard that is for us as chefs? But with P&H, I don’t have to worry, every piece is the same size, the same quality.

I know when I am buying P&H products, I am getting quality. There are no fillers or preservatives, but just quality products made from top ingredients, properly prepared just as if I was to do it myself. But it is not worth it for me to do it myself; it would take me 1.5 days just to trim, marinate and then cook the duck leg for example. But with P&H the leg work is done, I just have to heat it, but I know I can also add my own signature flavours too it if I want to. That’s what I love; their products give me a great neutral base that I can customise with my own slant. For example, I might want to create a honey or orange glaze perhaps use the duck in a salad, or even create a curry the options really are endless. And I know their products are produced by artisan chefs, there are no shortcuts taken, everything is prepared properly and with a high level of skill and technique just as I would myself.

Heiner, why do you choose P&H fine Foods?

I love them all.

Sausages, if he comes with sausages, I’m sold, he says looking at Rod our sales and product development guy. Sausages and potatoes, I’m happy. The turkey, the beef cheeks, and I cannot go past the pate and terrines, especially when Rod visits us with samples as well. The sausages; I can roast them, grill them, steam or blanch them, or even sometimes we remove the skin and use them as a filling for something. Same with the pates and terrines; they can form part of a canape plate, serving platter, appetizers or be part of a main meal, or used as some sort of stuffing in another protein.

The products are versatile, minimally seasoned so as chefs we can add our own signature and ideas and make it our own. That’s what I love. And they have flavour, lots of flavour.

I know you have also worked with P&H on one-off products from time to time

Yes, I like that I can ring up Rod and tell him what we are thinking of. I can tell him our thoughts, ideas, budget etc and he will develop what we need. Not many people do that.
But with P&H I know I can get what I need. And I can get quality, that is so important. Quality products produced by top chefs.

Thank you for serving us up a real treat today. Can we ask if you would offer our readers any suggestions on how on could serve our Duck Leg confit?

I like to keep it seasonal, focusing on what is in season at the time. In winter, warm and hearty aromats like we have used today, braised cabbage and red currant. With crispy potatoes or sweet potatoes, perhaps a marmalade or glaze with a caramelised jus. In summer a much lighter base, paired with stone fruits plums, peaches or nectarines, something refreshing.

If you could have a dream product that P&H produced, what would it be?

Duck sausage.., Duck chipolata can you imagine that!? Roast caramelised pear with duck sausage and cranberry jam. You can see he already has the dish dreamed up as if it is on the plate in front of him.

As you can see Heiner is not only truly passionate about food, but he values quality ingredients, quality products, consistency, innovation and flavour. For him P&H products tick all the boxes he looks for when sourcing ingredients.

We love having Heiner and his team as customers, as we like to say family members of P&H. We have been working alongside Heiner for many years and truly value not just his business, but the thoughts, skills and knowledge he brings to the industry and the value this brings to us at P&H as well. We are always asking our customers for feedback on new ideas and products and also how we can best serve them. After all it is about you and your clients and what we can do to continue to deliver top quality artisan products that far exceed your expectations.

If you would like to become a part of the P&H family, please reach out and get in touch with our team today, we would love to get to know you, your customers and what you are looking for.



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