The Calgary Petroleum Club recognizes Dieter Heinermann for an incredible 45 years of continuous employment. Even more incredible is that he was first hired in August 1967 – minus a period of layoff – it will be 50 years in August 2017. Throughout this time, Dieter has worn all of the figurative “hats” in the kitchens of the Calgary Petroleum Club, and he has done it with excellence and pride of workmanship. He is known for his ambition, reliability, work ethics, and as a real “workhorse” by his teammates.
Dieter Heinermann was born in the city of Braunschweig, Germany, on June 4, 1951. Braunschweig is a few kilometers from Wolfsburg – where Volkswagens are made. This was where his father learned the machinist trade. When Dieter was a baby, his family moved to Solinger, Germany. Solinger is known as “The City of Blades” – a place famous for the manufacturing of knives. It was here that he grew up with his three brothers and one sister.
In March 1966, his family moved to Canada in search of a better life. Dieter was fifteen years old when they settled in Calgary where his father secured employment with Barber Machinery, as a machinist.
His Dad heard through a friend of a friend that there was a dishwasher job opening at the Calgary Petroleum Club. In August 1967, Dieter and two others were hired as dishwashers. He was sixteen and this was his very first job; The Executive Chef was Manfred Schölerman and the General Manager was Mr. Goldie. Since that day, Dieter has seen many Club Presidents, General Managers, Executive Chefs, members and staff, come and go.
He washed dishes for a month and a half, pots for another month, and then was advanced to Kitchen Porter. He remembers doing oyster stags. In those days, the Dining Room would be full of members and the entire Buffet consisted of everything oyster – preparing thousands of oysters is no small feat.
One day – less than a year, after starting to work for the Petroleum Club, the Fry Cook suddenly quit. The Executive Chef told Dieter, “Start frying!!” This was a memorable moment for Dieter. He had felt “drawn” to cooking, and finally his hard work and strong work ethics were paying off. This was his first actual cooking assignment, and the beginning of his apprenticeship, at only seventeen!
Then came staff cut backs – Dieter, and the others who were hired at the same time were laid off.
In 1971, when business picked up again, Dieter was the only one of the three former employees that was hired back. Now, he was able to continue his apprenticeship. He was advanced to the position of Saucier, and later Sous Chef (although he still made the sauces). As the Executive Chef’s “right-hand man” – being a Sous Chef is a weighty job. When the Executive Chef was sick or away, Dieter would fill in for him. When an Executive Chef would quit – Dieter would take the reins, and carry the load. On the day shift that meant doing the ordering, etc. He also spent time as Butcher, as well as time on the Buffet. Later, he chose to settle again to Saucier, away from the stressful Sous Chef position. In 2007, Dieter began making the soups as well.
On Friday, May 13, 2005, Dieter arrived to work at 5:30 am, only to find his Club surrounded by fire trucks. During the two-week period before the Club was back in business, Dieter meticulously cleaned the kitchens in preparation for re-opening.
He takes pride in; his “signature” lasagna, that current GM Toni-Marie Ion-Brown praises, and his Stampede baked beans. He is pleased by the fact that former GM Rod Thomas’s favorites have always been his Swedish meatballs and chicken potpie, and that Mr. Walla and Mr. Siebens would always ask for him to cook their prize pheasants!
Executive Chef Andre Zimmerman says that he would have to hire three people to replace him. Kitchen Stewart Glenn says that Dieter punches in, gets right to work and hardly takes breaks. Sous Chef Jason relates that Dieter comes in on Saturdays, on his own time – refusing pay – to make sure that everything is organized and “spot on”. Conveniently, Dieter’s apartment, where he has lived for 30 years, is very close to the Club.
When asked if he plans to travel – Dieter says – that he is not much of a traveler. He said that he has been to Edmonton, and then he went to Vancouver and it rained all of the time that he was there, so he came home. You are right, Dieter – you are not much of a traveler. He is looking forward, though, to working on his electronics collection. He is a computer wiz, as many staff will verify. He loves troubleshooting and repairing computers – actually working on anything electronic. Dieter enjoys telescopes and everything scientific: physics, astronomy, etc.
Well, Dieter Heinermann, you have appreciated your job, at the Petroleum Club and the Petroleum Club appreciates you! Our members and staff are so glad that you were “drawn” to cooking – all those years ago. You certainly have pleased multitudes of people with your talent and experience. You take pride in your workmanship, and the Club takes pride in you. For all your loyalty, your shining example, and your very hard work over this incredible span of your career – the Calgary Petroleum Club says – a very huge and heartfelt Thank-you!
Written by: Donna Warwoda