Describe your culinary style in a few words…
It’s a combination of regional and luxury products in different textures with modern preparation and presentation.
What’s your earliest memory of being interested in food?
I used to go into our garden and bury jars of garden herbs that I had cooked in order to (though I didn’t realise it back then) ferment them. AT the age of 10 I had my first recipe book and my first recipe was dark Mousse au chocolat.
When did you decide to take up a career as a chef?
In 2004, my wife and I decided to open our first small country house in Wipperfürth. This is where we started out making our name in the world of gastronomy. We arrived at Landhaus Spatzenhof in October 2009 and it’s here that we’ve been preparing dishes of a Michelin-starred status since 2011.
Who or what has been the biggest inspiration of your culinary career so far?
Nature and the seasons are my strongest inspirations for ideas. This passion was really awakened when I was at the Wielandshöhe in Stuttgart learning under the tutelage of chef Vincent Klink. Not only did I learn how to cook with herbs but also how to cultivate and grow them. When I was with master chef and mentor Dieter Müller I was able to get to know many types of cuisine. From him I learned how to cook with utter passion and a sense of calm.
If you were having your final meal, what would you choose for each course and why?
Crunchy bread with fresh tomatoes and fresh goat’s cheese with cool Riesling in the summer sun followed by Rhenish marinated pot roast with potato dumplings, cassis-red cabbage and raisin sauce, which I love, because the relation between sweet and sour is just perfect.
What are the five ingredients in your kitchen that you couldn’t live without and why?
Wild herbs, port wine, apple juice, vinegar and fermented garlic. Fresh wild herbs give a certain freshness to any dish as well as a bitterness which makes the combination even more interesting. Using apple juice in vinaigrette gives it a natural freshness and sweetness, just as fruit vinegars will when you add them to sauces or vegetables. I like to make a cream out of fermented garlic, which goes with many dishes and lifts their flavour profile.
What has been the proudest moment of your career so far?
The confirmation of the Michelin star in 2013, which was around the time we combined the gourmet concept with country house cuisine. This also reflects my own cooking style. On my menu you can find regional dishes as well as modern interpretations.
You recently cooked at Creutz & Partners’ Villa Louise earlier this year in September. What experience did you give your guests?
I want to show that an establishment like ours has the know-how to work with regional and luxury products and is at the same time training six apprentices.