First Generation: Import of French Haute Cuisine
One of the first Michelin stars was awarded to Franz Keller’s “Schwarzer Adler” in Oberbergen (Kaiserstuhl region) in 1969. His son, Franz Keller jun. has worked with for Ducloux, Bocuse, Lacombe and Gérard and was awarded even two stars at the Schwarzer Adler and later in Cologne (Restaurant Franz Keller). Another notable example is the Erbprinz in Ettlingen near Karlsruhe where patron Helmuth Gietz and chef de cuisine Günther Wanka created German Haute Cuisine with French products and techniques. On the other hand, Rudolf Katzenberger (patron of another “Schwarzer Adler” in Rastatt) used local products and created very unique specialties among them the famous Badisches Schneckensüpple (snail soup).
But, international recognition did not come until the Munich property developer Fritz Eichbauer “created” Tantris in 1971 (with then pathbreaking interior, now rather retro) and hired a young unknown but aspiring Austrian chef named Eckard Witzigmann which Paul Haeberlin had recommended to him. Witzigmann had been working for Bocuse, Troisgros and Haeberlin and was absolutely obsessed with product quality. He immediately got one star in 1971 and in 1979 was awarded three Michelin stars (as one of three chefs outside of France) at his own restaurant Aubergine which he had just opened the year before. Witzigmann is most important to the development of German Haute Cuisine as he was its spearhead and trained a lot of today’s great German chefs, among them Harald Wohlfahrt (Traube Tonbach***), Hans Hass (now at Tantris**), Johan Lafer (Stromburg*) and Alfons Schuhbeck (Schubecks Südtiroler Stuben*), the two most widely known TV chefs in Germany. Witzigmann was inspired by French Nouvelle Cuisine but created new dishes which are considered modern classics. His techniques, e.g. for roasting chicken, are still widespread.
Heinz Winkler (also at Bocuse in 1978!) became the successor of Witzigman at Tantris in 1978 and got three stars in 1981 as the then joungest chef ever. He held three stars at Tantris from 1981 – 1991 and became owner of the Residenz in Aschau where he holds three stars since 1993 (with a two year “break” in 1996 and 1997). Among his disciples were Claus-Peter Lumpp (Bareiss***), Heinz Beck (La Pergola, Rome***), Christian Jürgens (Seehotel Überfahrt since July 2008, previously Burg Wernberg**) and Claudia Poletto (Poletto*) one of the only female top chefs in Germany. Winkler’s cooking has nor changed much in the last 10-15 years but his Cusine Vitale does not seem to be outdated. Solid preparations and good produce are still key. In my opinion the weakest of the three stars in Germany and risks downgrading if nothing changes.