Many people sometimes tend to forget that the most essential element of cooking is time. And for Taiwanese chef Andre Chiang of Restaurant Andre, time means fermentation.
He is on a mission to try and create a new experience in the restaurant by serving fermented juice for those who don’t feel like drinking wine. “All the best restaurants in the world have invested so much on produce, technique, cutlery, equipment, service, wine and interior design but we have forgotten those who don’t want to drink wine in a restaurant for one reason or another,” he said.
His presentation was one of the highlights of the second day of Chef Sache, the avantgarde Cologne cuisine festival which celebrated its 10th anniversary this edition.
The day focused on innovations taking place in the different restaurants around the world. The lineup on the second day included Albert Adria of El Bulli fame as well as the first ever French chef to make a presentation at Chef Sache, Alexandre Gauthier from La Grenouillère. Joachim Wissler and Andreas Döllerer completed the list of chefs on the second day.
Albert Adria spoke about how he has spent the last 31 years working in the kitchen and for many years working in the shadow of his brother. He spoke of the decision to close el Bulli saying that they needed to kill the monster before it killed them. They then evolved from el Bulli to el Barri, an area in Barcelona where Albert has created a series of restaurants which are now attracting a lot of interest. The most well known of these is Tickets, a tapas bar which made sampling some of el Bulli’s food accessible. Their latest project will be Enigma which is set to open in October or November and which aims to be the dignified successor to el Bulli. Albert spoke about how at el Bulli they had to strive for perfection without any tolerance for mistakes. “After el Bulli, I have made mistakes and this has been an important learning process,” Albert said.
Andre Chiang of Restaurant Andre in Singapore believes that ‘juice’ is the weakest link in a dining experience and is out to change that with his creations of fermented juice. “The importance is to create aroma, body and taste. This can vary but the combinations can be endless” he says. “Every fermented juice can support a dish. You could consider it as a second sauce that goes with the dish. The taste can be as complex as a dish but it should never interfere with a dish. It should take it to another level,” he said.
Alexandre Gauthier, chef of La Grenouillère spoke about the importance of cooking without any constraints. “I had seen my parents work really hard and did not want cooking to take over my life. When I decided to take over the restaurant, I wanted to have liberty not only for me but also for my clients,” said the French chef.
Andreas Döllerer is working to reinvent Alpine cuisine in Austria close to Salzburg. Considered as an Alpine Rebel, he says that nature does not give all things voluntarily. He says that while he will use Asian products such as dashi, the believes that the core product should be from the region. For example, he serves ox marrow in a scallop shell given scallops are not available in the region. And instead of fois gras, he serves liver from the burbot, saying this is their fois gras “Simplification is the trend because if can be confusing if you put too much ingredients on a plate.”
Joachim Wissler, the chef of Vendome, spoke of the importance of also having fun and not taking everything too seriously when he showcased his iconic dessert called cinema which features popcorn and coca cola. He does this in a very inventive way.