An anniversary year for Michelin in Germany – the 100th edition. So, time for ground-breaking news? What is very apparent from the stats is that Germany has seen a rather promising development since Juliane Caspar had taken over in 2004 – including the loss of the third for Winkler and Bourgueil, the promotion of Wissler (2005), Bau (2006), Amador, Erfort, Lumpp (2008) and finally Elverfeld in 2009. Moreover, a couple of young and unconventional restaurants received the second star (alone five new ones in 2008). Now, Mrs Caspar heads the Guide Rouge in France (scandale!) and her deputy Flinkenflügel has taken over.
Time for consolidation this year. At least on a first glance – only one new two star chef, Martin Herrmann of Le Pavillon at the Dollenberg in Bad Griesbach (clearly a surprise, rather classic and conservative), one demotion (Dieter Kaufmann of the Traube in Grevenbroich) which seems overdue as Kaufmann was certainly an important chef in Germany but some years ago. No new three star promotion, only a new espoir, namely Thomas Bühner of La Vie where I ate a fantastic meal at three star level recently. If he continues in this form no doubt he will get it next year.
Two new espoirs for two stars: Keven Fehling of Belle Epoque in Travemünde, a young, modern and inspiring chef who certainly has the potential for two stars. I will definitely go and report. Second, there is Tim Raue of Ma in Berlin, one of the most controversial chefs in Germany whose cuisine is radical in abolishing with the French tradition altogether. Inspired by Chinese and Asian products, flavours and techniques he has a unique style which polarizes quite a bit. For me, the cuisine didn’t have much appeal and my evening was a bit clouded by some technical and product ‘difficulties’. But I respect his approach and will return for a second time…
Most disappointing and totally incomprehensible, Michael Hoffmann of Margaux in Berlin didn’t get the second star. As I reported and experienced again two weeks ago his cuisine is cutting edge, creative and delicate working with the best products and a unique philosophy of elevating herbs and vegetables. A true three star show. Somehow I have the feeling that he is an immensely gifted pupil whose teachers are not able to ‘see’ his talent. Nevertheless, this will not stop me from raving about his cuisine and hope that he finally gets the recognition he deserves. A new report will be up soon.
23 new one star restaurants. Two observations: Amadorization – a couple of young chefs who were trained by Juan Amador received their first laurels. Caroline Baum of Amesa (Amador’s second post in Germany) worked for five years as sous chef in Langen and reinterprets classic dishes in modern but not ‘molecular’ way. Definitely worth a visit. Then, Daniel Achilles of reinstoff in Berlin who together with his business partners won a business plan competition and has at least one eye for local/regional products. Marc Rennhack reinvigorated the olivo in Stuttgart und Mathias Apelt brought a fresh and modern breeze to Villa Mittermeier in Rothenburg ob der Tauber (yes, it’s true – next time you visit this picturesque town go and eat there – it’s really interesting). For the later three some emancipation could be warranted but it’s a good sign that young aspiring chefs spread new and unconventional approaches to cooking across Germany.
Second observation: some of the new stars have been awarded to recently opened restaurants like reinstoff, Amesa, La Terrasse in Bremen or niXe in Rügen. It’s very good that despite the ongoing financial crisis entrepreneurs (like Achilles and his companions or Amador himself) or hotels (like the Parkhotel in Bremen, in Rügen or at the Ritter in Durbach where I once had my first fine dining experience as a child) are brave enough to take on the risk. Bravo! And, despite somehow breaking with its usages, Michelin is recognising the quality only a couple of months after the respective opening.
So, this year’s Michelin leaves me with mixed feelings – on the one hand it only re-confirms the high-level of German fine dining overall (and there are prospective promotions in the next years, e.g. Jürgens (for three), Kellermann (for two)) and on the other it could pave the way for young talents. Maybe this could encourage more young chefs to finally cut the ties with their masters and realise their own and concept. Maybe also a differentiating concept…
The complete list of starred restaurants 2010 is here: Michelin Stars 2010. Enjoy!