Short Bite: New German Cuisine?

Is any press good press? Hard to say…

In the yesterday’s NYT travel section Gisela Williams has written about “A Wellspring of the New German Cuisine“. Wow, I thought, after the article on Amador, the recent developments in the German restaurant scene are getting more attention. Given the mission of my blog I can only welcome that;-)

Gisela starts out with my favorite theme – on the one hand Germany is only second to France when it comes to three star restaurants (nine as of this year’s Guide Rouge) and on the other hand “the land of sauerkraut and spätzle, it seems, is finally getting little culinary respect”. Well said, quite true, but needs to be changed… She then continues by describing that old and young chefs are creating a new German cuisine ( “parsing their Teutonic heritage for new flavours, rather than reciting French or Spanish techniques for haute effect”). D’accord…

But then she names Bavaria as the state and Munich in particular where the “kitchens are lighting up on cream and butter, and elevating traditional dishes into modern creations”. I strongly disagree – from my experience the second German Küchenwunder (after the first Küchenwunder following Witzigmann’s third star – see Fine Dining in Germany) is not taking place in Munich or Bavaria. Schuhbecks is surely a great place to eat but (i) it is not a pure German restaurant as there are many Italian dishes on the menu, (ii) Schuhbecks style is very traditional German but only slightly modernized and lightened and (iii) is much too expensive for the quality of food (compared to the cited €280 for two with drinks (?) you could also easily enjoy any of the three star places for only some Euros more). The connection between the intro and the examples seems a bit strange (at least to me, that is)…

Let’s be precise: the German cuisine on a whole is moving up the quality ladder when it comes to ambitious starred or local restaurants (like the Wirtshaus zum Herrmannsdorfer Schweinsbräu), but the New German Cuisine in my opinion is best represented by “The New German School” a term coined by Jürgen Dollase, the maybe best food writer in Germany these days. Dollase uses this term to describe the style of the spearheads of the second German Küchenwunder (beginning with the additional three 3* restaurants awarded in November last year). So, Amador, Elverfeld, Erfort, Bau and Henkel are the protagonists – some of them are still rooted in French or Spanish traditions, but Sven Elverfeld’s versions of German dishes like the Jägerschnitzel or the Tafelspitz, Amador’s Strammer Max or Christian Baus’ Schwarzwälder Kirsch are really ground-breaking and ingenious new interpretations. So Schuhbeck is nice but nothing compared to those guys! Judge for yourself – compare Schuhbeck’s Bavarian Trout and Elverfeld’s creations

And, the good news is that there is more to discover, especially in Berlin: Tim Raue (Ma), Kolja Kleeberg (Vau), Michael Hoffmann (Margaux) and Michael Kempf (Facil). And Thomas Bühner in Osnabrück…

After all, any press that draws the attention to culinary Germany and makes people come to experience our cuisine is good press – it just sometimes needs commentary:-) So this is more the high-end perspective on “The New German Cuisine”.

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