The Basque Revolution

San Sebastian – or Donostia, as the Basques like to call their city – is the culinary centre of the world. Based on the size of population or per square kilometre, there is nowhere else that has a greater number of Michelin star restaurants than here. But even the simple cuisine is of the highest calibre. Tapas, known as Pinchos here, are legendary and certainly the best in Spain. It was in this environment that the Spanish avant-garde was born, then leaped over to the Catalans and swiftly revolutionised cuisine across the entire globe. The vanguard of the elite Basque chefs is made up of the triumvirate Arzag, Aduriz and Berasategui. Sorry, the quadriga, because there are two Arzaks. We are extremely proud to have the opportunity of presenting two of these legends at the CHEF-SACHE.

Andoni Luis Aduriz ★★

The Ability to Amaze
“Mugaritz”, No. 3 / 50 Best

The “Mugaritz”, No. 3 in the San-Pellegrino List of the 50 best restaurants in the world, nestles in a hilly landscape reminiscent of the Alps just outside the city’s gates. This rural idyll probably harbours the most progressive restaurant concept of our time. Also a result of Andoni’s research project, for sure. He even carried out a study on the limitations and opportunities of the avant-garde cuisine. Andoni Luis Aduriz consistently uses produce from his surroundings. Fresh milk from the farmers, vegetables grown on his behalf and mushrooms from the lush forests. But nothing about Andoni is as it seems. The baked Camembert is made of linseed, a haystack is a calf’s tongue, stones are not stones and vanilla pods are made from bracken. There is no menu, only the tasting menu. The guest is led into the kitchen and is advised on an individual level. Andoni will demonstrate how several of his dishes have emerged. No doubt, you will be as amazed as we were when we visited his kitchen.

Elena Arzak ★★★

The Big Bang of the Avant-garde
“Arzak”, No. 8 / 50 Best

Elena’s father Juan Mari Arzak was quite rightly highly honoured for his lifetime achievement by the jury of the 50 Best. He was the first Spanish avant-garde chef and began interpreting dishes in a novel way more than 30 years ago. That was the Big Bang of the Avant-Garde Cuisine. Even today, Juan Mari is still in touch with the latest trends. It was into this environment that his daughter, Elena, was born. Father and daughter present a true double-act in the restaurant. A tandem as they say themselves. Both of them peddle away, and take turns as to who sits in front and steers. The restaurant is fully booked for lunch and dinner. Elena works in the kitchen. Tasting, honing with great concentration, handing out a smile here and there. In between, she gives advice to the guests in the restaurant. The kitchen is sensationally original, as unique as it is plentiful. The flavour is enhanced by freeze-dried product substances. The concept themselves originate in the “Laboratorio”, where the creators are able to draw from a collection of nearly 2,000 extraordinary products from across the globe. Elena will comment on her demonstrations in German.

Massimo Bottura ★★

Breaks Through all Boundaries …
“Osteria Francescana”, No. 4 / 50 Best

This year, Massimo was given the honour of the “Chef’s Choice” award by the World’s 50 Best Academy. Because the jury of international top chefs voted him to be their No. 1. There can hardly be any other higher distinction.
Massimo Bottura represents the creative head of the Italian gastronomy. His dishes in avant-garde style are all based on classical cuisine. He is convinced that these must first be perfectly mastered before one breaks away from it. A connection to the region is also important to him. The guest should taste that he is in Modena. Art-possessed Massimo draws his inspiration from the fine arts. In the process, he becomes the Jackson Pollock of Haute Cuisine himself – creative, impulsive and daring. His experiences also set associations for the creation of his dishes free. A helicopter landing on a cow pasture inspiringly led to a dish with cow’s milk and crushed meadow herbs. and the raw coastline of the Atlantic to a trilogy of dishes which mix the borders between sea and land. See bass has a consistency similar to rabbit meat and an oyster is teamed with “Salzwiesenlamm”, lamb from the salt marshes. Excited by these crossing of boundaries, we have invited Massimo, who is also a gifted entertainer, to present his dishes on stage.

Jonnie Boer ★★★

Welcome to Hard Rock Restaurant
“Librije”, No. 46 / 50 Best

Two Harleys roar up in front of the three-star restaurant in Zwolle. Jonnie is riding the black one, and his wife, Thérèse, the white one. Below the restaurant is the famous open kitchen with the legendary Chef’s Table. Hard rock is blaring from the radio. Jonnie is singing along. He’s been a powerhouse here for 25 years. Has never been in other large kitchen. So, the special “Boer Style” was developed at an early stage and is beyond compare. Right from the early beginnings, he built on local produce. Not least because goods from France were too expensive. He collects the seeds from wild herbs and cultivates them in “his” greenhouse. And does the same thing with various types of vegetables. Once fermented, the brew constitutes the aromatic basis, the stock of many dishes. Jonni will demonstrate this technique. We also hope that he will bring a few of his special Petit Fours with him. These are served to the guests in “Librije” at the end of a meal, perhaps after they have eaten a “Kiss from Thérèse”. A dessert whereby the waiter pours a milky, creamy substance into a red strawberry mouth. If anybody can rock the stage in Cologne, then it’s Jonnie. 

Heinz Reitbauer ★★

Perfectly Staged
“Steirereck”, No. 22 / 50 Best

Practically every instance of Austrian Haute Cuisine has its roots in the culture of guesthouses. Traditionally-run family businesses which have made the leap to the individual designer cuisine. Such is the case with the Reitbauer family too. What first began with father and mother led the second generation with Heinz and his wife Birgit into the world of the elite. Produce from their own farm and from friendly farmers are perfectly staged with all their unique originality. So, char fillets in hot beeswax are cooked in front of guests, pumpkin is served as a ball of spaghetti and classic strudel with medlar, violets and frittatas interpreted in an avant-garde manner. But it is not just the inventiveness of Austria’s No. 1 in the kitchen which is remarkable. It is the holistic concept which is important to the Reitbauers. Culinary skill, inventory control, understanding of guests and restaurant design – modelled on traditional Viennese operas – successfully intermingled. The Reitbauer’s restaurant is always fully booked up. Dear Heinz, please explain to us how you do it.

The elite of the New German School

The first generation of great German chefs derived their creativity from the French Haute Cuisine. It was only after a generation change that top-flight German cuisine found its own identity. A typical German, modern and progressive style visibly established itself. This is appreciably moulded by German virtues. Comparisons can be drawn from the fine arts; a German chef does not fill the canvas with expressive brush strokes or explosions of colour. First, he sketches, makes designs and plans his work methodically, carefully placing each stroke of the brush. Exactly like German design or German engineering, the New German School represents straightforwardness, hard work, perfection and ordered creativity. Four of the most important representatives of this discipline will be stepping on stage to prove that German cuisine has its place as one of the best in the world.

Christian Bau ★★★

“Victor’s Gourmet-Restaurant Schloss Berg”
A long way away from cooking the Japanese way, yet it was the understanding of the products and the intricate design of his creations which united him to the Zen-Buddhist ideas from the far-eastern island. Learn to understand, strive towards your own perfection. From the guests point of view, he has most definitely achieved this already . For Christian Bau, after initially following modern interpretations of classic cuisine, a creative volcano has erupted in the last few years. He flings his own Bau-style around which is as original as it is bold. But it is not just in his dishes where he demonstrates his daring. His “Carte Blanche” concept caused a furore. Here, the guest conveys his choice of menu to the chef. We are curious to learn how he has experienced this concept and look forward to his demonstrations.

Thomas Bühner ★★

“La Vie”
In a stylish setting with a sophisticated atmosphere, Thomas Bühner serves up a lively avant-garde cuisine which looks ahead and searches for improvements and new opportunities. His creations are balanced and with such a depth of taste that would be hard to find anywhere else. In the process, Thomas Bühner has removed himself from conventional aroma images and created his own. This is particularly evident in his stage demonstrations. He combines Gorgonzola, beetroot, marjoram and umeboshi plums or mackerel with sesame ice cream and passion fruit. The products are altered and optimised to be harmonious or even deliberately integrated into the overall concept in a provocative way. Recently, the restaurant was granted access to what is probably the most species-rich kitchen garden in Europe. It will be exciting to discover what impact this has had on the creation of the dishes.

Sven Elverfeld ★★★

“Aqua”, No. 25 / 50 Best
Initially, as a student of Dieter Müller, Sven Elverfeld also cooked modern-French. The break-through came through creating his own individual style. Three stars and catapulted into the San-Pellegrino List of the 50 best restaurants in the world. Sven Elverfeld’s creations often sound a little banal: Handkäs (cheese) with music, Dover sole Finkenwerder style or cod with sautéed potatoes, bacon and mixed pickles. Behind this, however, are subtle deconstructions. By changing the texture, the flavour is perceived to be more intense, disruptive elements are removed. The play of temperatures and the crisp, juicy and crunchy elements are also perfection. To achieve this, Sven has invested in new technologies and equipment. He’s brought some of these along in his luggage for the presentation.

Nils Henkel ★★★

“Gourmet-Restaurant Schloss Lerbach”
With “Pure Nature” Nils Henkel plainly demonstrates the holistic concept which has been characterising his cuisine for years. The love for naturalness and the individual flavour of the produce. His cuisine is close to nature and his encyclopaedic knowledge of this is reflected in his incomparable skilful use of herbs and flowers. The repertoire of his vegetable dishes are just as extensive as they are excellent. Certainly world class. Nils Henkel’s dishes can be recognised at first glance. Because the sophisticated work of the chef has found its own path, even in terms of presentation.
The “Pure Nature” concept extends beyond his cuisine. The entire concept of the restaurant is the result of rigorous thinking and action which – in addition to demonstrating some of his own dishes – he will explain to us.