Kochfreunde.com is the culinary magazine of Oliver Wagner. Here, everything revolves around the almost most beautiful thing in the world: good food. The focus ranges from reports on exciting restaurants to recipes from his own kitchen, cookbooks and culinary gadgets.


Kochfreunde.com ist das kulinarisches Magazin von Oliver Wagner. Hier dreht sich alles rund um die beinahe schönste Sache der Welt: Gutes Essen. Dabei reicht der Fokus von Berichten über spannende Restaurants bis hin zu Rezepten aus der eigenen Küche, Kochbücher und kulinarische Gadgets.

Schwarzwaldstube, Baiersbronn

It is a change with an announcement and almost twelve years of lead time. Nevertheless, it echoes down from the Black Forest like a rumbling drumbeat: after 37 years in the role of chef, Harald Wohlfahrt, the German exceptional chef par excellence, is handing over the kitchen management of the 3-star restaurant Schwarzwaldstube to his long-time sous chef Torsten Michel this summer.

A few weeks ago, I was a guest at the Traube Tonbach in Baiersbronn and was able to watch the 39-year-old make his first appearance in his new role at a dinner for regular guests and friends of the house. Before that, we last met in Berlin at the 11th Sternefresser Cooktank. There, Torsten Michel, in keeping with the motto of the event “The Star à part – The Edition of the Sous Chefs,” still acted as Wohlfahrts’ deputy. And sent an extremely elaborate and multiple-plate truly sensational creation: a six-course journey through the Black Forest, to the panel.

At a dinner for regular guests and friends of the Traube Tonbach in March, the evening revolved more around the classic dishes of the house, sometimes interpreted more freely and, for the rather large number of guests, slightly simplified and served with the involvement of the team from the hotel restaurant. The signal was clear: change and preservation of tradition go hand in hand here.

During the evening I was lucky enough to be able to be there in the kitchen and watch the goings-on at the pass live. Of course, a slight tension was noticeable in Torsten Michel’s face that evening; he prefers to speak of “complete focus on the task ahead of him”. Which, by the way, turned out great. Instead of the usual 35-seat Schwarzwaldstube, more than a hundred guests were served that evening in the significantly larger Silberberg Restaurant. The atmosphere in the kitchen was nevertheless calm and concentrated, the many small tasks well distributed, the announcements by Torsten Michel clear and precise.

The event kicked off with an elaborate round of amousses served at the reception in the bar of the Traube Tonbach. Patron Heiner Finkbeiner did not miss the opportunity to lift Torsten Michel at least semi-officially into the new office.

The Traube Tonbach is a classic hideaway in the truest sense of the word. Nestled in the beautiful landscape of the Black Forest, the property is spread over several small and large houses. Some modern and clear, others look like from another time, but definitely in a positive sense. Here, too, the motto of slow change is palpable. No big leaps, keep the high quality and slowly change in details and tentatively modernize. Slowly take the guests who have been visiting the house for many decades, at the same time set enough contemporary accents for a new clientele. Not quite an easy tightrope walk.

The menu started with slices of Saint James scallops with small shellfish in seaweed jelly, imperial caviar and lime marinade. A dish bursting with great and high quality marine products. Of course, the typical associations of a day at the seaside are immediately evoked – but in an unusually intense and dense and captivating way. Flavors and textures interplay perfectly, and the truly lush portioned caviar, as well as the many fragile components, create a dish to indulge and soak in.

For 25 years, the Schwarzwaldstube has held three stars, the highest award of the Guide Michelin. Five of the ten 3-star chefs in Germany stood at the stove with Harald Wohlfahrt. A total of 80 stars have their origin in his cuisine.

This is followed by medallions of Breton lobster with corail emulsion and coconut cream, Creole escabeche broth. Once again, a course with impressive product quality – and quantity. This is great classic cuisine, with light fresh touches. Far away from the current trends and fashions. Wonderful.

The mildly smoked Atlantic salmon tranche on tossed garden cucumbers, herbs and red wine sauce with mustard seeds and dill is then a slight glimpse of a slightly more modern course. Crafted to perfection, aromatically fresh and enhanced by a contrasting depth when combined with a red wine sauce.

The main course continues in a very classic way: Stuffed duck breast from the Dombes with glazed pointed morels and young peas, duck jus with chopped truffle. This is heavy and intense good taste paired with once again outstanding products. And certainly a dish that should delight longtime houseguests. Me too, by the way.

The gin and tonic sorbet “Monkey 47” on pickled fruit in Earl Grey brew made its debut on the cooktank described at the beginning. With the reference to the gin from the Black Forest, it naturally fits wonderfully into the concept. And provides a pleasant fresh counterpoint to the robust duck breast.

The menu closes with a classic and furious sweet finale: fine Orelys chocolate and passion fruit, muscovado baba and mangoculis with Indian spices. Sounds complex, but is a finely crafted dessert, chocolaty and just very classic, but also very lush.

Torsten Michel has been cooking at the Schwarzwaldstube since 2004, and Wohlfahrt had already chosen him as his successor at the end of 2005 and meticulously prepared him for this step. Wohlfahrt understandably finds it difficult to say goodbye to the Schwarzwaldstube. not easy: “My whole life is in the Schwarzwaldstube. It’s not that easy to part with it”. Of course, Harald Wohlfahrt will remain with the Traube Tonbach and devote himself to new projects within the hotel.

Torsten Michel wants to continue the kitchen in Wohlfahrts’ spirit. His claim: Defend the three stars.

The course for this has been set correctly. And I am already very much looking forward to my next, then certainly more detailed visit to the Black Forest.

Hotel Traube Tonbach

Family Finkbeiner KG

Tonbach Street 237
72270 Baiersbronn

Phone: +49 7442 492-0
Phone reservation: +49 (0) 7442 492 622

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