Martin Heierling has amassed an impressive culinary resume on his path to becoming Chef at the Bellagio Spa Tower. Featuring contemporary continental cuisine, the hotel's restaurant Sensi takes guests on a culinary journey where cuisine from four corners of the world comes together in a contemporary setting.
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. 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 then-Executive Chef Gray Kunz, who not only hired the young cook, but became Heierling’s greatest culinary mentor. His love of New Zealand beckoned though, 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 in Auckland, where Heierling worked under New Zealand’s best known chef, Michael James. Next Las Vegas called, and Heierling was on his way to the the city's Bellagio Hotel. At Sensi, the hotel restaurant, Heierling’s approach to cooking – ingredient-driven dishes, eschewing overwrought drama for elegant simplicity – takes center stage. 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 today.