Jonnies Playground

Jonnie Boer
De Librije, Zwolle, Netherlands
No. 38 / 50 Best, ★★★

The relocation of Jonnie and Thérèse Boer’s restaurant “De Librije” has created a fantastic new haven of well-being.
Jonnie started as a chef at “De Librije” in 1986, when the restaurant was owned by Ed Meijers. He became head chef at the age of 23. A short time later, Thérèse joined the restaurant as a sommelier. They must have clicked almost immediately. They made a sensational team. No matter where or how, Jonnie and Thérèse are always mentioned in the same breath. In 1993 they purchased the restaurant, situated on a picturesque canal in the Dutch town of Zwolle. In 2008 they embarked on a brave new adventure, opening Librije’s Hotel in a lovingly-restored women’s prison. They established a second restaurant within the hotel; Librije’s Zusje (literally: younger sister) was swiftly awarded two Michelin stars. De Librije itself has long held three stars. But two major restaurants in their own characteristic style proved to be too much for one small town. Zusje therefore moved into the Waldorf Astoria in Amsterdam, where Jonnie and Thérèse continue to provide their culinary direction. The “old” De Librije was closed and has now moved into the spacious hotel atrium, spread out beneath an imposing glass roof. Guests can gaze up into the sky, and almost feel the sun, clouds, rain and snow on their skin, or be enveloped by the night. Such a step also has financial benefits, reducing the kitchen and waiting staff by half – although new jobs were also created in Amsterdam. The change in location was a good idea. For everyone. Operations at the former site had become somewhat rusty and there was some stagnation regarding new ideas; now the atmosphere feels more like that of a “start-up”. Everyone is motivated, their faces lit up with a smile, creating a terrific atmosphere. An exhilarating experience for guests. Jonnie sparkles with energy; never has he cooked better, never has his characteristic style been clearer or more concise. The chef’s love of nature can also be seen in the objects dotted around the restaurant. Germinating vegetables, a glass of tadpoles – so that customers can observe their development, says Boer. But it is he who is the true child. In the middle of the restaurant stands a tree which he dug up in the nearby town of Giethoorn where he was born. The legendary chef’s table has also found a home here. This restaurant is a place where guests experience great culinary skill in a relaxed and informal atmosphere.

The Rolling Stones – Desserts by a genius

Jordi Roca
El Celler de Can Roca, Girona, Spain
No. 2 / 50 Best, ★★★

Three brothers – three jobs. A collective genius with perfect symbiosis. The Rolling Stones (roca = stone) of the restaurant scene. Joan, the oldest brother, is chef de cuisine and the restaurant’s grand seigneur. Joseph is sommelier and the younger brother to pastry chef Jordi. He also seems to be something of the creative force. His ideas are ingenuous, at times ‘five miles out’. Joan brings him back down to the real world. The dishes created by the ‘World’s Best Pastry Chef 2014’ are breath-taking and unforgettable. He astonished the scene in 2001 with his first ‘Perfume Creation’ – Eternity by Calvin Klein. First of all the guest is handed a card with a scoosh of the genuine perfume to check its fragrance. The comes the dish, served under a cloche. The same perfume spreads as soon as the cover is raised. Jordi’s finely tuned senses help combine the individual components of the dessert with precisely the right ingredients and proportions. Each element on the plate has a certain fragrance, which blend to produce the identical olfactory experience as ‘Eternity’. Many other perfumes followed. Also an avalanche of other slightly barmy desserts. ‘A Goal for Messi’ or ‘Cuban Cigar Box’. The ice-cream parlour Rocambolesc is Jordi’s creative playground, providing an intimate glimpse into his inner life. Colourful, jolly, playful: a bit like Willy Wonka. But Jordi is just as much a hard-working researcher. And to do this the brothers have an entire farmyard located in the neighbourhood, where they have also set up a laboratory and a test and show kitchen.

New Nordic Cuisine Extreme – High and fresh

Poul Andrias Ziska
KOKS, Tórshavn, Faeroe Islands
„Best Nordic Restaurant“

Some of the foods that the descendants of the Vikings serve up seem a touch scary to central Europeans. Ram’s heads and fish are fermented in tiny huts until they develop a smell that Nordic men have learned to love, while olfactory senses more accustomed to southerly herbs are quite likely to feel assaulted. Popular dishes here include whale meat and its blubber, giblet sausages, sea fowl like gulls or fulmar, also fantastic scallops and plump sea urchins. Straight from the sea – unbeatably fresh. Poul Adrias Ziska, the youthful chef in the restaurant KOKS, gladly incorporates all of these things and diligently continues his research to make even more of the country’s resources accessible. In doing so he consistently blends the Viking traditions with the ideas and techniques proposed in New Nordic Cooking. A dainty snack disguises itself as a cheese cracker, but the spread is made of fermented fat from lamb’s tripe. Hung for months, a ham made of lamb is served simply and without any frills. The scallops come the same way, presented to the guest unprepared with just a knife to prise open the shells. Ziska frequently conceals the dish below a layer of herbs, cress or vegetables. Underneath the guests discover raw cod, swimming crabs or petrel. All of them present exciting experiences and uniquely flavoursome compositions.

The Empire in the El Bulli Universe

Albert Adrià,
Tickets, Barcelona, Spain
No. 29 / 50 Best, ★,
Pakta ★, Bodega, Hoja Santa ★, Niño Viejo, Enigma

A restaurant on the Costa Brava, named after the previous owner’s bulldog, had an unprecedented, global and lasting impact on culinary art around the turn of the millennium. The legendary El Bulli. It was the birthplace of what became known as molecular cuisine and training ground for today’s elite chefs Bottura, Redzepi, Aduriz …
A protégé to Maître Juli Soler, Ferran Adrià fronted the restaurant. Albert Adrià, the younger brother, pastry chef and restaurant manager, was his right-hand man. But always slightly in the shadow of the chef, his older brother. That’s just how it goes for pastry chefs. The team announced in 2010 that El Bulli would close at the pinnacle of its success. But this meant only that El Bulli would withdraw from the eatery market. The think tank lives on and is gradually becoming a universe. Here, roughly 70 people work on restaurant concepts and a lexicon. Albert Adrià, awarded the accolade ‘World’s Best Pastry Chef 2015’, has experienced a stellar development compared with his previous role. Today he is the driving force, the manager and developer behind Restaurant-Unit el Barri, which owns six concepts in Barcelona alone. Spanish, Mexican, Nikkei food. The small gourmet restaurant Enigma opens this year. First in line is the Michelin-starred restaurant tickets. no. 42 in the world’s 50 best eateries. A gaudy, lusty, loud tapas bar with honky-tonk flair. Adrià’s management style is truly unique. Every day he makes the rounds of all his restaurants, tastes all the dishes and demands that the chefs keep meticulous records. All of them are posted to the cloud.

True Art – Asia’s delicate soul

André Chiang
Restaurant André, Singapore
No. 32 / 50 Best
No. 3 / 50 Best of Asia, ★★

André Chiang is considered Singapore’s number one chef, and that really is saying something. After all, Asia’s cosmopolitan metropolis is teeming with superb restaurants and well-heeled customers willing to sample any culinary trend. A native of Taiwan, André spent his teenage years there experimenting in his mother’s restaurant. Later on he relocated to France to learn the trade in the promised land of classic cooking. Chiang proceeded to open his first restaurant in 2010. But it was not his last. Since then he has set up an entire series of topical establishments in Singapore and other urban centres. But the André is his sanctuary. Spread over three floors, each with comfortable and individual furnishings tucked away behind a historical facade, Chiang cooks what he calls French style cuisine. But what he actually creates bears little resemblance to classic French cuisine. Inspired by art, the delicately attuned chef prepares sensitive menus according to his own ‘octo-philosophy’. It defines eight parameters entitled Unique, Pure, Texture, Memory, Salt, South, Artisan and Terroir. Each course in all of his menus takes one of these topics as its motto, transforming the meal into a holistic concept comprising equally important components.

Cuisine Alpine – Austrian avant-garde

Andreas Döllerer
Restaurant Döllerer, Golling, Austria
3 Toques Gault Millau

Like most of the top restaurants in Austria, the Döllerer is a richly traditional family business with strong roots in the local community. Sitting in a building typical of the regional style, the gourmet restaurant is home to a traditional tavern, a bar, a butcher, an enoteca and of course the hotel. It is an impressive little empire. Unfortunately, Michelin does not provide ratings outside of Vienna, so the Döllerer – like other good restaurant businesses in Austria – does not have an international benchmark. But there is no doubt that Döllerer’s ‘Cuisine Alpine’ is among the best in the world. The chef is rigorous in his use of regional products, if at all possible. The local waters yield burbot or Bluntau salmon. Döllerer makes its own bacon, sweetbread of suckling calf and glacier-ground fennel. Even the Alpine scallop is not a marine animal. Instead it is a slice of beef marrow in dashi stock with egg yoke cream. But it is tremendously difficult to tell the difference when served in a shell. Jürgen Dollase penned this opinion “This measured sense of avant-garde is simply convincing and holds the promise of wonderful things to come.”

Revolution among the God’s of the Kitchen – French avant-garde

Alexandre Gauthier
La Grenouillère, La Madelaine-sous-Montreuil, France
No. 62 / 100 Best, ★

The names most commonly associated with the art of French cooking include Joel Robuchon, Alain Ducasse, Michel Guérard or Georges Blanc. The culinary world focuses almost its entire attention on a select group of grand masters from France. There is no doubt they are all superb chefs. But a certain excitement is missing. Perfect craft, classic dishes, far removed from the top levels of international avant-garde. But the front line in trendsetting and artful, revolutionary French cuisine does exist. Practically ignored at home in France and without any real name on an international stage. Wrongly so, especially if one takes a look at what Alexandre Gauthier is up to in Normandy. His restaurant and hotel La Grennouillère (the frog’s leg) alone is worth a visit. He has created a remarkably modern eatery in a historical building, typical of the region. Some elements of the industrial architecture exude a rough, futuristic touch. But what emerges from the large, open kitchen is simply astonishing. Marshmallows with fish guts, peas and rocket from dunes, a bed of nestles or the apparently simple but actually sensational fried wax beans with salad burnet and wild mint. Gauthier focuses clearly on the products, which are mostly sourced locally. He has a truly masterful touch. His award of just one star is incomprehensible if one considers a Gauthier menu. It is possible that the chef is simply too radical for the conservative French critics. But let’s not forget: he was once listed ‘One to watch’ in the list of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants’.

The intention to create perfection

Joachim Wissler
Restaurant Vendôme, Germany
No. 35 / 50 Best, ★★★

On Joachim Wissler’s homepage you can find the following principles: Creativity – the drive behind all thoughts and attempts to change things. Flawlessness – the attempt to create perfection. Willingness to experiment – the courage and freedom to attempt things that only become meaningful after being completed. Curiosity – the persistence to learn, experience and understand new things. Authenticity – distinctiveness and clarity as the most important criteria for both the new and the tried and tested. Tradition – the preservation of knowledge as the foundation for the future.
These statements perfectly describe Wissler’s work and philosophy. And they are realised in his grand, gourmet menus, which can surprise even the most frequent Vendôme guest from time to time. For a long time Joachim Wissler forms the peak of German cookery for most critics. Like no other cook he represents the actual work in the creative Front-end of the restaurant scene between avant-garde and classical background.


Talk about Future – Germany’s next generation

Mittlerweile reift die dritte Generation der deutschen Spitzenköche und Spitzenköchinnen heran. Mitten in einer Zeit des großen Umbruchs. Investoren und auch Chefs selbst kehren dem Fine Dining den Rücken. Sternelokale werden geschlossen. Man fahndet nach neuen Konzepten und Ideen. Welche Restaurantkonzepte könnten greifen? Was will der Gast? Wer beurteilt die neue Szene fachgerecht? Ja, wie stellen sich junge Chefs ihre Zukunft vor?
Talkmaster, Gastrosoph und Grand Seigneur Ralf Bos wird in bekannt amüsanter Weise mit diesem Talk und spannenden Gästen die CHEF-SACHE eröffnen. Im Anschluss zeigen die Chefs in Power Slots ihre Signature Dishes.

Sarah Henke
Die unter dem Namen Young Sun in Korea geborene Küchenchefin, wuchs als Sarah Henke bei deutschen Pflegeeltern auf. Aus der Elverfeld Schule kommend erregte sie als Küchenchefin des Asia Restaurants Spices im A-Rosa auf Sylt zum ersten Mal Aufsehen. Souverän erkochte sie dort einen Michelinstern. Seit Dezember 2015 ist das Yoso in Andernach ihre neue Wirkungsstätte. Hier serviert sie eine asiatische Elemente-Küche. Feuer, Wasser, Erde, Luft finden sich in den Kreationen wieder.

Maria Groß „Maria Ostzone“
Die gebürtige Thüringerin war drei Jahre lang Küchenchefin des ehrenwerten Erfurter Kaisersaals. Neben dem Massengeschäft widmete sie sich im angedockten Restaurant Clara dem Fine Dining. Dafür bekam sie einen Michelinstern. Das Fine Dining hängte sie an den Nagel. Heute betreibt die lebenslustige Chefin gemeinsam mit ihrem Lebensgefährten das Traditionshaus Bachstelze. Ein Ausflugslokal. Hier wird „einfaches“ Kneipenessen serviert – aus dem man ganz klar die Handschrift einer Spitzenköchin herausschmeckt. Ihre Marke Ostzone ist ein klares Bekenntnis zur Heimat.

Felix Schneider
Endlich hat es in unserem Land jemand gewagt ähnlich radikal wie Redzepi oder Ek eine konsequente deutsche Küche zu entwickeln. Eine Küche ohne Allüren, bodenständig und auf höchstem Qualitätsstandard. Der Restaurantname Sosein steht für das Wesen. Das Wesen einer Zutat. Das muss man erkennen, sonst kann man sie nicht richtig zubereiten – ist Chef Schneider überzeugt. Wie es sich für ein solches Restaurant gehört, baut man eigenes Gemüse an und sammelt fleißig auf Wiesen und in Wäldern.

Billy Wagner
Billy Wagner machte als Sommelier in Rutz Weinbar von sich reden und avancierte zu einer der schillerndsten Figuren der Weinszene. Nicht zuletzt, da er Vorreiter und Protagonist der aufkommenden Orange Wine Bewegung war. Nun hat Billy bekanntermaßen ein eigenes Lokal. Pardon, Speiselokal Nobelhart und Schmutzig. Brutal lokal – nennen die Nobelharts das Konzept. Bäuerliche Produkte von den Höfen und Feldern rund um Berlin kommen hier auf den Tisch. Dank Küchenchef Micha Schäfer ist das dem Michelin einen Stern wert.