Chefs Cooking demonstrations 2016
Eneko Atxa, Azurmendi, Spain
No. 16 / 50 Best, *** Michelin
The new Basque revolution
As a newcomer to the list of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, Eneko Atxa sprang straight to 26th place in 2014 and also received the “sustainability prize”. And for good reason. That’s because the whole concept of his restaurant is organic. The grand hilltop crystal palace captures almost all the scenery of the Basque region. Regional materials can also be found inside. Wood, stone and steel – the latter as a homage to nearby industrial Bilbao. It’s geothermally heated; the sun provides the energy. Situated on the roof is a greenhouse, and in front is a garden – a reflection of the agricultural produce. With a glass of Cava, the guest takes a leisurely stroll before the meal and finds the first culinary sacks in a picnic basket.. And thus the stage is marvellously set. In the huge kitchen – the heart of life here just as in a Basque farmhouse – Eneko experiments with revolutionary and innovative techniques. He plays around with different methods and temperatures, without ever forgetting his heritage and its produce.
Jonnie Boer, De Librije, Netherlands
No. 38 / 50 Best, *** Michelin
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.
Mauro Colagreco, Mirazur, France
No. 6 / 50 Best, ** Michelin
The case for the uncomplicated
Mauro is an Argentinian by birth, with unmistakable Italian roots. His wife is from Brazil. He came to France to expand upon his cooking techniques. Alain Passard and Alain Ducasse became his mentors. He is now a restaurateur in his own right. On the Côte d’Azur, just a stone’s throw away from the border with the Italian Riviera, spread over three tiers, his restaurant nestles atop a hill overlooking the blue sea and offers a breath-taking view of the coast. These are precisely the surroundings that give distinction to Mauro’s style. He never wanted to do Argentinian cuisine. The emphasis in his menus rests on what the nearby ocean has to offer and what the gardens of the region provide. Fruit and vegetables flourish in a special microclimate. Nowhere else in France it is warmer, and the neighbouring Mediterranean Alps supply plenty of fresh water. Much comes from Mauro’s enchanted garden, where local fruits or crops grow on stone terraces, exotic plants brought back from the chef’s travels. Everything arrives fresh each day and as little as possible changes on the plate. Product variation – cooked, fried, sweetened or made crunchy – you won’t find that at Mauro’s. His cuisine is to be uncomplicated and the actual flavour of the food is given centre stage.
Magnus Ek – Oaxen Krog, Stockholm / Sweden
Pioneer of the New Nordic Cuisine – natural kitchen with deep taste
We write 1994. The world’s cooking style is French, but here and there reactions appear. A certain Ferran Adrià in Spain develops a quite new culinary style. And in Sweden young chef Magnus Ek and his wife Agneta take over a restaurant on the island Oaxen. The isolated situation of the location leads more and more to the use of local products from the island. Besides, Ek attains a manifold biological knowledge. This is the birth of the New Nordic Cuisine – and this “big bang” was nine years before the opening of restaurant noma. Indeed, it is to be owed Claus Meyer, at that time owner of the legendary restaurant, and René Redzepi, that the New Nordic Cuisine became a worldwide known brand.
Back to Magnus Ek. He started cooking in the Oaxen Krog with seaweed and moss – this was absolutely new – and to reflect on archaic cooking technologies. Deer was bound in birch bark which was lighted. He cooked on stones, and Magnus invented a smoking apparatus. At that time Oaxen Krog was one of the popular places under the 50 best restaurants of the world. Still, in the loneliness of the island Oaxen the restaurant could not work economically. Today the Oaxen is in a former shipyard hall in Stockholm. Of course the nature boy Ek did not say goodbye to natural kitchen. Daily he roves through the woods to collect products for his menus. Beech sheets, fern roots, rose hips. He processes them to courts with ripe, deep taste. So substantial, as many people would not expect it from such a kitchen.
Tanja Grandits, Stucki, Switzerland
** Michelin, 18 Gault Millau Punkte, Chef of the Year 2014
The formula of harmony
A petite, yet strong and assertive, woman, steadfastly pursuing her own path. A woman who manages her team skilfully, with a great deal of sympathy and motivation. Tanja has attracted a lot of attention in recent years. The legendary Stucki experienced a renaissance under her charge. She was soon awarded two stars and now stands indisputably at the forefront of the Swiss avant-garde. Tanja’s style is unique. Unmistakeable. Her compositions are inspired by a matrix, a system, a formula, which she develops on a large sheet of paper, somehow a relic of her previous studies in chemistry. She uses her formula to compose the entire menu theoretically; all the produce, all the flavours, everything arranged according to colour. Each plate arrives in front of the guest in a harmony of colour, presented on “organic” tableware. Soft and elegant. A world of indulgence in red, yellow, ochre or purple, Tanja’s favourite colour. And it is not a gimmick. Different colours taste different. The taste of green, yellow or red. Evidence of Grandits’ theory. Everything of the same colour seems to match in taste. She calls it “flavour cooking” – a delight for the senses.
Rasmus Kofoed, Geranium, Denmark
No. 28 / 50 Best, *** Michelin
Next to Noma, Geranium is the second world-renowned restaurant of Copenhagen. In 2009, it was ranked no. 77 in the Top 100 (50 Best voting system). In the same year, the restaurant closed its doors at the Kongens Have city-park due to differences between the owners. In 2010, it was reborn on the eighth floor of Fælledparken, a stadium in a park in the middle of the city. Success came quickly: ranked 28th amongst the “Worlds 50 Best Restaurants” and three Michelin stars since 2016. Kofoed does not follow the New Nordic Cuisine trend. He primarily fills his shopping basket with products that are admittedly typical of Denmark, but more seasonal than radically regional. Geraniums, with which he once experimented, are no longer on the menu. All that remains is the name of the restaurant. In 2011, Kofoed made headlines as the winner of the Bocuse d’Or in Lyons. Even before that, he achieved much success in this competition.
Virgilio Martínez, Central, Peru
No. 4 / 50 Best, No. 1 / 50 Best Latin America, * Michelin
New Andes cuisine, an unrelenting ascent
In 2014, with 35 steps forwards, the main restaurant was named “the highest climber” in the list of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. Currently he is No. 4 in this list and No 1 in the list of The 50 Best Restaurants of Latin America. Martinez thereby overtook the legendary “Astrid y Gaston” by Acurio with regard to the critics’ favour and now forms the pinnacle of new Peruvian cuisine. Whilst Gaston Acurio takes a predominantly European approach, Martínez seeks authenticity with his country. As persistently as no other, he researches the biodiversity of his country together with scientists in his Mater Project and makes typical, native American dishes available to his metropolitan guests. This results in the extraordinary being served. The dry coast of the Pacific provides blue and red maize, marimo that grows in damp grass or mountain shrimp and fish from the rain forest of the Amazon basin that look like they come from another planet. The menu comprises delicacies like these. It follows the geography of the country, where each course represents a particular region. Such ideas could definitely be applied in our countries too.
Vladimir Mukhin, White Rabbit, Moscow, Russia
No. 18 / 50 Best
Borscht flows through his veins – The new Russian cuisine
After Anatoly Komm’s Varvary briefly landed on the list in 2011, the White Rabbit in Moscow is the second restaurant to make it onto the list of the best 50 restaurants. And at 23rd place, this really is remarkable for a newcomer. Its concept of traditional Russian cuisine using Russian products is sure to please guests and critics alike. Borscht flows through his veins, as he himself says. His love of Russian produce is clear to see. Mukhin embodies the new Russian chef. Open minded, well trained and researching every modern cooking technology. Mukhin belongs to the fifth generation of a cooking dynasty. At 12 years old, he toiled away in the kitchen under the watchful eye of his father. Later on, he joined the ranks of the highly respected Alexander Filin in the Red Square restaurant. He went on to open a few restaurants here and there, popped up in a few places in France and trained in Spain – among others at El Cellar de Can Roca. Since 2012, he has been the chef at the White Rabbit. And as the name suggests, it truly is a wonderland. Under a glass dome, high above the Smolensky shopping arcade, playful Russian splendour reigns. Where guests settle down on plush sofas in front of the Moscow skyline, or sit on low, plump upholstered poufs at the gastro bar. The white rabbit theme (from Alice in Wonderland) is featured throughout the restaurant’s accessories. And, of course, in line with the New Russian cuisine, you can find borscht on its menu as well.
Joachim Wissler, Vendôme, Germany
No. 35 / 50 Best, *** Michelin
The intention to create perfection
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.