The news has been circulating on the web for a few days now: Yes, I cook for the railroad. So not on one of the 1,300 trains that roll through Germany every day, but in the form of a new dish that I developed for Deutsche Bahn’s on-board catering.
The fact that well over 30,000 servings of “my” dish will probably be consumed during my promotional months of February and March 2018 makes me a little proud and no less nervous at the same time. There are very few other scenarios where you can reach so many people culinarily in such a short time. For me, who writes about food rather than producing it, even more so. So I feel quite honored here to follow in the footsteps of such well-known chefs or TV protagonists as Léa Linster, Sarah Wiener, Eric Fréchon, Horst Lichter, Stefan Marquard, Tim Mälzer, Cornelia Poletto or Herbert Hintner from South Tyrol. By the way, I will visit the latter in Italy next week – but that’s another story.
More than 260 on-board restaurants and around 390 on-board bistros crisscross the country every day. If you convert that, it equates to 5,100 seats available at any one time.
At the same time, many things are different from classic restaurants. It is crucial and indispensable that the preparation in the on-board restaurant is very standardized. Because, of course, in the compact kitchens of the lively moving trains can not be cooked as in a classic restaurant kitchen. Nevertheless, and this surprised me a lot during an intensive walk-through, the preparation is very gentle. If you look into the basics of sous-vide, you will always come across the fact that it was first developed for careful cooking in French TGW trains. And even today at Deutsche Bahn, they hardly ever use microwaves, but much more convection ovens and steam. Vitamins and products are preserved. The difference to stationary gastronomy is not that big. The dishes arrive on the train ready portioned and are regenerated in portions after preparation. By the way, these are not frozen, as I first suspected, but fresh and cooled accordingly then also limited shelf life. They are manufactured nationwide by some specialized companies. And for the most part by hand. With big pots and kettles, but not in the typical food factories you see on TV.
I ride the train a lot, regularly and most of the time even very much, accordingly I know most of the dishes on the current menus. What actually bothers me the most is sometimes the lack of seasoning. Of course, this is due to the lowest common culinary denominator. But, let me tell you this much: My dish will have significantly more power. Many fine aromatics and a sufficient amount of salt and pepper. For my taste. But that’s also the point. And I’m all the more excited when it goes live in over a year. Until then, I refer to the other participants in this action and their dishes, with which it starts already in April 2017. And as soon as my recipe has gone through all the necessary coordination rounds and production preparation measures, I will of course present it to you immediately in the usual place!
With them are Petra Hola-Schneider from“Hol(l)a the cook fairy“, Sascha and Torsten Wett from “The boys cook and bake”, Dorothée Beil from “Bushcooks Kitchen”, Sarah Kaufmann from ” Vegan Guerilla” and Sascha Suer from “Lecker muss es sein”. Also in the photo Susanne Drexler and Patrica Wenk from Gourmet Connection, who are responsible for the idea and coordination of the Culinary Year campaign.