Second Generation: Refinement and Perfection
After the “first generation” with their French roots the next generation of top German chefs were mainly trained in Germany and thus adopted and further refined French style cooking. Most importantly, Harald Wohlfahrt was hired by Heiner Finkbeiner in 1978 first a a sous chef and then took over the restaurant Scharzwaldstube at Hotel Traube Tonbach in 1980. He holds three stars since 1992 and is regarded as the best German chef together with Joachim Wissler (see the Volkenborn ranking) as well as one of Europe’s best. Classic on the outset Harald Wohlfahrt is best in producing “simple” dishes with mind-blowing taste – one immediately gets the feeling that there is no way of doing it better. Remarkably Wohlfahrt continuously improves, modernizes and perfects his dishes and is (together with Wissler) a little ahead of this peers…
Wohlfahrt was the single most influential chef for German Fine Dining after Witzigmann had to close Aubergine due a little cocaine scandal in 1993. Many of his disciples were very sucessful afterwards: Joachim Wissler, Christian Bau and Klaus Erfort (all three stars), Thomas Bühner (La Vie**) and Hans-Jörg Sackmann (Sackmann*) and lots of others.
Almost of equal importance was Dieter Müller: born in Baden in a gastronomic family he learned Haute Cuisine from Ernesto Schlegel at the Schweizer Hof the then best restaurant in Switzerland. After a stint in Korfu his brother Jörg called his support at the Schweizer Stuben in Wertheim-Bettingen. Together they run the Gourmet restaurant earning the first star in 1974, the second in 1977 and were regarded equal to Tantris as Germany’s top restaurant. After Jörg left, Dieter stayed in Wertheim until 1990 but without being promoted to three stars (the Gault Millau awarded 19.5 points for the first time in Germany). After two years of renovation at Schloßhotel Lerbach he opened his Gourmet Restaurant “Dieter Müller” which holds three stars since 1997. Among his disciples were Nils Henkel (who took over the restaurant in February this year) and Sven Elverfeld.
Dieter Müller is a master of sauces of astonishing intensity which lift his technically perfect dishes to another level. His cuisine has classic roots but is very open to adding in international flavours especially from Asia. Harmony is very important.
The creation of a lunch menu consisting of 19 amuse bouche portions was ingenious as it guaranteed an uptake in lunch bookings and enables the diner to familiarize with his cuisine. Warning: not advisable for foodies, however, as the portions of the mostly complex dishes are too small to fully grasp all details;-)
In this generation Helmut Thieltges also needs to mentioned – with no big names on his CV he took over his family hotel and restaurant Waldhotel Sonnora in 1978 and quietly refined his very product-centered cuisine to three star status.