The CookTank of star eaters is a cooking and think tank for the most important players in German-speaking top gastronomy. The eleventh edition took place a few days ago in Berlin at the restaurant Tim Raue. And this time, for the first time, the sous chefs took center stage. So the deputies of the big chefs, among others from the Vendome, the Schwarzwaldstube, The Table, from Tim Raue, from the Adlon, the Haerlin, the Söl’ring Hof and from Andreas Caminada.
I found two ideas at once fascinating about this new setup: First, the well-deserved stage that was finally offered to the stars of the supposed second tier. On the other hand, the possibility of having a journalist or blogger accompany a chef in advance in order to document the development of his creation in much more detail and comprehensively than would be possible during the event. In the course of this, I recently spent a fabulous day on Sylt and accompanied Jan-Philipp Berner around his lamb in three courses.
Who actually cooks when you’re not in the kitchen? The same one who cooks when I’m in the kitchen. –
My sous chef.
There is a lot of truth in this quote from Paul Bocuse. Because, of course, the renowned chefs have a variety of tasks that demand their attention outside the kitchen. And a large team that implements their ideas and visions day after day with maximum precision. Under the guidance and critical eye of the deputy, the sous chef.
How much does working under a boss like Christian Lohse, Tim Raue, Kevin Fehling, Harald Wohlfahrt, Johannes King, Christoph Rüffer, Andreas Caminada, Daniel Achilles or Hendrik Otto shape the team’s signature? To what extent can and do the deputies free themselves from the big egos of their bosses and forge their own path?
Chef de cuisine Restaurant Tim Raue, Berlin Deputy of Tim Raue
Ratings: 2 stars and 19 points
Christian takes us on a culinary journey through Asia: China (wagyu shabu shabu with leeks, ginger and beeftea), Japan (pickled wagyu beef with Sichuan pepper, red pearl onion and PX vinegar), Thailand (stuffed lettuce heart with somtam, grilled wagyu beef, beef marrow dried pineapple).
Great little gems, clear in aromatics and wonderfully presented. And, as Christian later revealed, conceptually an achievement of the entire team under Tim Raue. Because that’s exactly how new creations are regularly created here at the company.
Souschef The Table, Hamburg Deputy of Kevin Fehling
Ratings: 3 stars and 17 points
An obviously exceptionally good dish aboard an airplane inspired Dennis Ilies to create these plates. An oriental variation of lamb: rack of lamb, sea buckthorn, tamarillo chutney, cream of goat, spiced rice cream, tandoori hollandaise. Braised shank and sweetbreads, banana-turmeric puree, naan bread, pumpkin, mustard seed.
The oriental echoes can currently also be found in the current menu of The Table in Hamburg (for example, also in the menu The Art of Slow described here) and also work quite well there.
Souschef Schwarzwaldstube, Baiersbronn Deputy of Harald Wohlfahrt
Ratings: 3 stars and 19.5 points
In principle, the round of plates Torsten Michel served during the cooktank almost formed a menu in its own right. A journey through the Black Forest in 6 courses was promised – and delivered in a delicious and artisan precise way:
- Black Forest lamb ham with gin and fir aromas
- Lamb brain with confit lemon and coriander in lime-ginger broth
- Two kinds of croustillant of lamb feet with garden cucumber and lamb jus, flavored with mustard seeds and dill
- Lamb royal with offal ragout on currant coulis and Rouennaiser sauce with juniper
- Charcoal grilled milk lamb with cherries, hazelnuts and almond milk
- The Drunken Monkey: Gin and tonic sorbet with Earl Grey jelly and wild herbs
Head chef Söl’ring Hof, Sylt Deputy of Johannes King
Ratings: 2 stars and 17 points
I was allowed to accompany the creation of this dish in advance: Lamb in three courses
- Spicy: rack of lamb, cereals, Morsum asparagus and béarnaise sauce
- Sour: pastrami of lamb, pickled vegetables and grilled onion
- Sweet: ragout of lamb shoulder, Morsum asparagus, sheep yogurt and hazelnut
And just as served here, guests at Söl’ring Hof can currently also indulge themselves. However, the three plates are not served a part, but presented in three successive courses.
Souschef Haerlin, Hamburg Deputy of Christoph Rüffer
Ratings: 2 stars and 19 points
With “a handful of sea” Tobias Günther opened the culinary part of the Cooktank at Restaurant Tim Raue: Ossietra di Venezia- buckwheat, apple and roasted shallots.
A true paragon of summer sea freshness, very balanced and worth another trip to the sea at any time. Or to the Haerlin, because in fact one could imagine especially the oyster there also very well as a prelude to a menu.
Sous chef Schloss Schauenstein, Fürstenau (CH) Deputy of Andreas Caminada
Ratings: 3 stars and 19 points
Marcel Skibba showed a very courageous approach with his variations of catfish: liver, loin and grilled belly: BBQ infusion, ham, blackthorn, leek, onion and wild broccoli.
Although the fish is not currently at its seasonal peak, according to Marcel Skibba, the result was a great creation with very different textures and flavors of the big fish. Especially the spicy-aromatic brew and the tender liver have remained in my memory.
Souschef Reinstoff, Berlin Deputy to Daniel Achilles
Ratings: 2 stars and 18 points
By far the most courageous interpretation of the theme was developed by Julius Nowak. The star á part in this case is really not on the big plate in the center, but entwines the salad with small delicacies that can also be imagined as amouse: Currant, grilled salt meadow lamb and sepiarogen.
Starting from the plates á part can always be found back to the salad and combine and discover new.
Lukas Bachl & Thomas Lade
Souschefs Lorenz Adlon Dining Room, Berlin Deputy of Hendrik Otto
Ratings: 2 stars and 18 points
Hendrik Otto has two sous chefs at his side. Together you have created a dish around solyanka and saddle of beef: Saddle of beef, pickle, peppers, sour cream, beet, eel and solyanka.
Souschef Waldschänke, Grieskirchen, Austria
Rating: 15 points
With Clemens Grabner, a very young lad from Grieskirchen has secured one of the coveted wildcards. His dish brings concentrated alpine flavors to the plate – but in a new and exquisitely light interpretation:
- Gsurter pork belly with hop asparagus and asparagus stock
- Flour dumplings with Stöcklkraut, popcorn cream and fermented cabbage juice
- Bread sponge with horseradish and beer wheel on homemade lardo
Souschef Fischers Fritz, Berlin Deputy of Christian Lohse
Ratings: 2 stars and 16 points
The second wildcard stayed within Berlin and allowed Andre Schwuchow to participate. His dish: caviar, belly and back of char with sunflower seed cream, Jerusalem artichoke, chicory, dill flower, wheat germ oil, mustard seed, buttermilk, rapeseed sprouts and medlars.
The chronological sequence of events in the overview (to the left the head hair of an extraordinarily sympathetic food blogger from Hamburg, which seems almost a bit thin in the unfavorable light of the restaurant).
Once again, it was a great, high-caliber event and a comprehensive look into – and also behind – the cooking pots of sous chefs at leading restaurants. On the one hand, it is incredibly gratifying to see how much the deputies have internalized the cuisine of their house (and that of the host) and send dishes that could find their way onto the menu in exactly the same way. On the other hand, it is almost a pity that this big stage was not also used to show even more own stylistics and to dare a step out of the shadow of the grandmasters…