Overall ranking: 25
Chef ranking: 8
Rainer Becker - Snapshot
Rainer Becker is the German chef behind the high-end international restaurant brands Zuma and Roka. The first branches of both concepts were opened in London, and Zuma has since gone on to add four further sites worldwide, while Roka has launched two further international sites and a second London one.
Rainer Becker - Career guide
Becker, who was born in 1962, gained experience at some of Germany’s top restaurants, including the Michelin-starred Koenigshof in Munich and Goethehaus in Bensberg, before joining the Hyatt hotel group, where he worked for 14 years around the globe.
From 1988 to 1991 he was chef de cuisine at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Cologne. He then moved to Australia to work as executive chef at the Park Hyatt hotel in Sydney. The next stop was Japan, where he was executive chef at the Park Hyatt in Tokyo for six years.
Becker moved to London in 1998 as executive chef of the Hyatt Carlton Tower hotel, where he relaunched its Rib Room and Oyster Bar.
After working as a consultant on Alan Yau’s Hakkasan restaurant, Becker went solo, teaming up with Indian businessman Arjun Waney to open modern Japanese restaurants Zuma, in Knightsbridge in 2002, and Roka, in Charlotte Street in the summer of 2004, both based around the Japanese robata grill. More sites followed for Zuma, in Hong Kong in 2007, Istanbul in February 2008, Dubai in August 2008 and Miami in May 2010. Meanwhile, further branches of his Roka restaurant opened in Scottsdale, Arizona, in 2008, London’s Canary Wharf in 2009 and Hong Kong in 2010.
Rainer Becker - What we think
Becker’s rapid expansion through major global cities has shown the international power of a quality concept, and his Zuma and Roka restaurants now comprise a cosmopolitan empire built by a cosmopolitan chef. Becker’s experience working around the globe for Hyatt introduced him to many different markets and cuisines and proved the perfect education for global conquest once he had fine-tuned a popular concept.
In Zuma, and the more midmarket Roka, Becker found just those concepts. Both are based around the traditional Japanese robata grill and offer spiced-up versions of Japanese dishes more suited to western tastes. They also rely on stylish interiors, packed restaurants and the buzz of an open kitchen to build up an atmosphere. Becker was also careful to launch both sites as "authentic" rather than "traditional" Japanese restaurants, a label that diners can find intimidating.
Zuma quickly built up an impressive array of awards. It was voted Square Meal’s Best New Restaurant in 2002 and Best Restaurant in 2003, and the Tatler Restaurant of the Year for 2005. Roka also quickly built up its own army of fans and was named Oriental Restaurant of the Year in the 2005 Tio Pepe ITV London Restaurant Awards, while Becker picked up the Harpers and Moët Chef of the Year award for both Zuma and Roka in 2004.
While Becker admitted that Zuma was inundated with requests to open around the world after its launch, Becker took his time planning his restaurants’ expansion – scouting out the right spot in each city and ensuring that staff were trained in the London flagship sites before joining international openings. Although no new openings have been announced, it’ll be no surprise to anyone if Becker and Waney’s global domination continues apace.
Rainer Becker - Further information