Born in Heidelberg, Germany, and raised as a young adult in Auckland, New Zealand, Heierling knew from a young age that the culinary arts were his calling. After a three-year apprenticeship in Germany, he joined the team at the renowned Michelin-two-star restaurant Schwarzer Adler, performing an array of kitchen duties. Next he was off to Switzerland and the kitchens of Zurich’s acclaimed seafood restaurant Hummer & Austerbar, where, as chef tournant, Heierling learned his way around the kitchen, including the ever enticing pastry department. Heierling’s basic education was complete, and after a required tour at age 18 in the German Navy, he embarked on his culinary career.
In 1993 at the age of 23, Heierling joined the Sheraton Hotel family in Auckland, followed by a position at the venerable Badrutt’s Palace in St. Moritz, Switzerland. From there he set sail, literally, as one of the chief cooks on the opulent Royal Yacht Lady Moura, at the time the largest private yacht in the world. More of a landlubber, Heierling returned to Auckland as Sous Chef in the fine dining room, Partington’s, at the Sheraton Hotel Towers.
After eyeing a brochure describing Lespinasse as the ultimate in four-star New York City dining, Heierling contacted Executive Chef Gray Kunz, who not only hired the young cook, but became Heierling’s greatest culinary mentor.
His love of New Zealand beckoned and Heierling returned to the warm embrace of his family as well as the country’s food and culture. He took a position at the critically acclaimed Restaurant Essence, Auckland’s Best New Restaurant for 1998, where Heierling worked under New Zealand’s best known chef, Michael James. Next Las Vegas called, and Heierling was on his way to the Bellagio. At Sensi, Heierling’s approach to cooking – ingredient-driven dishes, eschewing overwrought drama for elegant simplicity – takes center stage.
In his first position as Executive Chef, Martin Heierling is thrilled
with the path his career has taken and credits blind enthusiasm for his
willingness to take the culinary risks that brought him to where he is