The finale of Chef Sache on Monday 27 October was as inspiring as the first day with a line up of six brilliant chefs who presented not only their story but also prepared some of the dishes currently being served in their restaurants. Chef Sache was organised by for the sixth consecutive year by German publisher Port Culinaire.
The spectacular line up of chefs yesterday included Joachim Wissler from Vendome, Andree Kothe from Restaurant Essigbrätlein in Nürnberg, Spanish Eneko Atxa of Azurmendi and Quique Da Costa, Jonnie Boer from Delibrije and Virgilio Martinez of Peruvian restaurant Central in Lima.
Wissler kickstarted the day with a brilliant presentation and a showcase of some of the dishes are being prepared at Vendome, near Cologne. The German chef spoke about the thought process of the restaurant and the story behind the dishes. “All my dishes need to have a soul. They need to have a story apart from perfect preparation and perfect produce.” He spoke about the creative process and how every week, his team have what they call a “cook tank” where a chef presents an idea for 30 to 45 minutes. “It does not have to be perfect and the idea might come from a book or a Youtube video the chef may have seen.”
Andree Gothe followed next with a presentation of his food philosophy which is to showcase vegetables as the main component of the dish. “Everyone knows vegetables as a side dish. I also had the same view when I started in 1997. The more we worked with vegetables, the more we found they could be the main component of the dish.” Kothe uses pretty much every part of the vegetable. For example, in a celery dish, they would use the stalk, the flowers, the celeriac bulb as well as the roots. They would not discard any part of the broccoli when preparing it.
Eneko Atxa spoke about the importance he gives to the whole experience. “My concept is that you are not visiting a restaurant but you are visiting my home. My house is also here so that is the feeling I want to convey.” Atxa’s restaurant and complex has won the sustainability award for being completely self-sufficient. Rainwater is collected, heating is generated through geothermal energy and there are also solar panels to generate energy. “When I was young, my family always used to meet in the kitchen which was the centre of the house. It was a very important place and that is also the same in the restaurant so we invite our guests to have an aperitif in the kitchen,” he says.
Quique Dacosta spoke about the Spanish cuisine project. “My opinion may be a bit biased but it is a matured opinion. The Spanish cuisine project has not yet started. Spanish cuisine is not the result of four chefs but of a legacy dating back hundreds of years. Innovation started way before Ferran Adria came and we are still in the beginning,” he said.
Jonnie Boer is a very avant-garde chef who brought Dutch cuisine to a new level 20 years ago when he started. He started using fermentation years ago before it became in vogue. But he wanted to showcase the importance of the produce by showing were his cuisine comes from. “For example, nowadays a lot of fish are treated with chemicals because fishing boats are staying out at sea for more than one day. This is stupid. Luckily I manage to find suppliers that can give me very fresh shrimps which I can then serve raw in the restaurant. Otherwise it would not be possible,” he says.
Virgilio Martinez, of Peruvian restaurant Central said that he was mainly looking for Peruvian identity in his dishes. “I try to create a unique Peruvian identity without any influence. When I think about people from the Andes, we do not have a flat view of the earth but rather a vertical world because of the altitude of Peru and the Andes mountains. We have seas, deserts and mountains so we try to give you a tour of the regions with our cuisine.”