Daniel Schmidt is now the executive chef at the Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain.

Marana’s Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain has brought on a German-born, award-winning chef to head the resort’s culinary operations including the signature Core Kitchen & Wine Bar.

Daniel Schmidt, 34, settled into the job three weeks ago and said he is slowly becoming acquainted with the tastes of his diners and the area. He’s already learned that Southwestern cuisine tends to lean more toward Mexican, with an emphasis on corn and meat, he said.

“I’m seeing what guests like, what ingredients, to get a better feel,” said the father of two young children. “I’m really getting to learn about the eating culture and how people eat.”

Schmidt replaces French-born Chef David Serus, who is now executive chef of The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes in Florida.

We caught up with Schmidt, who comes to Arizona from Ritz-Carlton’s 351-room hotel in Guangzhou, China, and learned a few important things about the man beneath the toque.

International résumé In addition to China, Schmidt has cooked at the Ritz-Carlton, Wolfsburg in his native Germany and consulted for high-profile restaurants and hotels throughout Europe, India, the Middle East and South Africa, where he met his wife. He also has won several prestigious cooking contests since the late 1990s.

International influence: He draws on Asian and European flavors for inspiration, including dishes that he grew up on in Germany. One dish that was especially popular in China was an Asian-style salmon seasoned with ginger and garlic and served with sugar beans.

“Everyone wants to have their fingerprints on the menu,” he said of plans to change things up at Core and other Dove Mountain Ritz eateries. But Schmidt said he will hold off on any sweeping changes .

Snoop through his fridge at home and you will find ... : “There is always yogurt, milk, butter and coconut water.”

Settling into the desert: “It’s like vacation right now. They (his kids) are hanging out at the pool and running around, catching snakes and hiking.”

Schmidt also is looking for a school for his 7-year-old daughter where she can continue learning Chinese, which she speaks fluently.

Contact reporter Cathalena E. Burch at cburch@tucson.com or 573-4642.

I cover music for the Arizona Daily Star.