He is big and imposing. At first glance, he could even be mistaken for a rugby player. But anyone who thinks that Sat Bains's build means coarse and awkward cuisine couldn't be more wrong. Instead, the friendly Sikh two-star chef from Nottingham is a delicate perfectionist who pays attention to the most minute details in his aroma-driven, French-inf luenced degustation menus. The result? Creations that do, in fact, have a lot to do with Bains's physique and can only be described with one adjective: colossal.
At the beginning, there was little to suggest that Bains would eventually become one of the world's best chefs. Quite the opposite, in fact: As his parents weren't really into gastronomy, Bains, who was born in Derby, developed neither a passion for cooking nor an interest in becoming a professional chef: "I never imagined being a chef. I always associated food with family and being together." When he joined Derby College at the age of 18, he opted for the catering course – but only because of the long queue of girls waiting to enrol. Despite the overwhelming number of girls, Bains still didn't develop a passion for cooking. This didn't happen until he met Mick Murphy, a chef for whom he worked after graduating. "He looked like a hobo. But he spoke with such passion about food. He was the one who ignited the spark within me."
And it was Marco Pierre White who fanned the flames. Or, rather, his culinary biography White Heat, which Bains read in just three and a half hours and which motivated him to focus on higher class restaurants. "It inspired me to send off a few applications just to see what would happen." A lot happened: Bains landed in Oxford at an offshoot of Le Petit Blanc, before spending three months working at L’Escargot in London. In Nottingham, he then took part in the Roux cooking competition for up-and-coming chefs in 1999, which he promptly won. His prize: An internship at the three-star restaurant Le Jardin des Sens in France. In 1999, he became head chef at Nottingham's Hotel Clos, which he transformed into the Sat Bains restaurant in 2002. Since then, Bains has been serving up a cuisine that is just as unusual as the industrial area where his restaurant is situated: "Our greatest passion is offering our guests something unusual."
No sooner said than done: Whether it's his duck liver parfait rolled in duck ham with peanuts, sweetcorn, shitake mushrooms, spring onion and plum purée, or his wild hare with quince, fresh pear, cauliflower, shavings
of bitter chocolate and toast with rabbit tartar, or his sea buckthorn with caramel, meringue and pine – Bains is a master at combining different flavours and creating a complex but harmonious overall experience. And all with local ingredients. In 2003, Sat Bains received its first Michelin star for its innovative cuisine, becoming the only starred restaurant in Nottingham. Other awards were to follow, such as Chef’s Chef of the Year in 2009 – and the second Michelin star in 2011. The icing on the cake then came in 2013: Bains's cookery book Too Many Chiefs Only One Indian won Best in the World at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards in Paris. On the back of numerous appearances on UK television, Bains was also able to increase his popularity and reputation beyond the gourmet scene.
The starred chef Sat Bains cuts an imposing figure. And his guests are even more impressed when he swings his wooden spoon and conjures up one of his critically acclaimed, delicate degustation menus. It's hard to imagine him being so nimble. But when it comes to the enormous pleasure that his menus offer, there is never any doubt.
A different top chef each month. It doesn‘t matter which continent or country they come from or whether they serve traditional, fusion or molecular cuisine. What matters most is the variety. And, of course, the high quality of the dishes.
Eckart Witzigmann, Chef of the Century and patron of Restaurant Ikarus, implemented the concept successfully from 2003 to 2013, together with Executive Chef Roland Trettl. Since January 2014, the Ikarus Concept has been continued under the patronage of Eckart Witzigmann and guidance of Martin Klein, who for many years was the partner and Chef de Cuisine of former Executive Chef Roland Trettl. Unique instead of mainstream, multi-faceted instead of simplistic, bold instead of boring, and cosmopolitan instead of narrow-minded will continue to be the motto under Martin. The result? Satisfied bons vivants who relish fine cuisine.
For the chefs of Restaurant Ikarus, the guest chef concept means adapting to a new menu, a new top chef and a new philosophy each and every month. This demands a high degree of talent, versatility and team spirit.
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