Take five of the best chefs in the world and invite them to take a swim the pond we like to call the Berlin food scene. This pretty much sums up what Terroir Berlin 2017. During the second weekend of May we held Berlin’s very first international chef’s symposium under the theme “Building Culinary Communities Through International Exchange” and in the course of four days the Berlin food scene came together in a series of events that culminated in a full day symposium on May 15th and a collaborative dinner the day after. Participants talked, walked, discussed, drank and cooked their hearts out and the aftermath waves of the Terroir Tsunami are still reaching me in terms of emails, phone calls, hugs, curses and Facebook posts.
“During the second weekend of May we held Berlin’s very first international chef’s symposium”
Our goal with Terroir Berlin 2017 was to bring some of the world’s most respected leaders of the international chef’s community to our city and to use their experience and passion to widen our perspective on gastronomy. It was a grassroots project where we spent the weekend before the main events touring the city with our guests, introducing them to Berlin’s culinary leaders and showing off the finest food side of Berlin. We spent the Saturday at Markthalle Neun with glorious food by Bone Berlin and workshops on German sausage and cheese, tasted the new Berlin at Nobelhart & Schmutzig, drank away the Kreuzberg night at Wild Things and greeted the sun with the most extraordinary breakfast at Studio Olafur Eliasson. We showcased the bounty of Brandenburg during a producer showcase at the Michelberger Hotel, saw the sun set over Gleisdreieck at the glorious BRLO Brwhouse pre-party and filled our bellies at Industry Standard. It was a weekend of learning and bonding and a revelation for everyone involved to see what beauty lies within Berlin food.
“It was a weekend of learning and bonding and a revelation for everyone involved to see what beauty lies within Berlin food.”
On Monday 15th we assembled 150 people in the basement of the Factory for a symposium that went beyond our expectations in many ways. The moderator (yours truly) set the tone with a fiery appeal to embrace our inner Berliners and thereby create a unique food destination that echoes across borders. We saw extraordinary keynotes from the likes of Billy Wagner, Kavita Meelu and Stefanie Rothenhöfer, all taking on the topic of origin and destination of the Berlin food scene. We saw panel discussions with Berlin food legends like Duc Ngo and Cynthia Barcomi, who shared their invaluable expertise from their last 20 years in the city’s food scene. Inge Meijs talked about the power and versatility of ingredients, Zacapa taught us on the topic of inspiration for chefs and the one and only Roderick Sloan enlightened us on the topic of sustainability for food producers. San Pellegrino brought us their winner of the Young Chef’s Competition Matthias Walther and a panel of selected journalists debated the prospect of Berlin becoming a culinary destination. The highlight of the day were the individual presentations of the international guest chefs, from the jaw dropping displays of their cooking terroir by Magnus Ek and Jeremy Charles to the beautifully honest take on a chef’s life by Amanda Cohen. Ot the retrospective take on a long career by Mark Best and the incredibly inspiring and actionable speech of Matt Orlando. The forum culminated in 12 round tables that each received a topic to discuss and then were asked to present their findings on stage. The result was an explosion of creativity where learning after learning was blasted out on the audience a topics ranging from sustainability to gender equality and work life balance in kitchens.
“On Monday 15th we assembled 150 people in the basement of the Factory for a symposium that went beyond our expectations in many ways.”
The culmination of the Terroir weekend was the collaborative dinner on the Tuesday in the Store Kitchen where the international guest chefs and their respective Berlin host chefs teamed up to cook one dish that symbolized the spirit of the symposium and the collaboration between the chefs. Christoph Geyler of Ernst created a stunning drink pairing to match the food (including extraordinary German wines, the BRLO Berliner Weisse and Zacapa rum cocktails as well as digestifs) and for one evening the clock stopped in Berlin. In a slightly under-dimensioned kitchen a couple of chef legends became one and delivered one of the most stunning meals I’ve had for a while. Some dishes will never be forgotten, like Dylan Watson and Matt Orlando’s raw white asparagus with asparagus vinegar, double fat cream and spruce and water mint, a dish that mirrored the visit at one of Brandenburg’s last demeter asparagus farms. Or the black bean bagna cauda from Lode can Zuylen and Amanda Cohen, the insanely delicious lovechild of this successful partnership that had to be eaten with your hands. Or Sebastian Frank’s signature eggplant dessert with celeriac charcoal, spruce vinegar and mint that was taken to a whole new level with the help of maple syrup from Jeremy Charles home in Newfoundland.
“Some dishes will never be forgotten, like Dylan Watson and Matt Orlando’s raw white asparagus with asparagus vinegar…”
When I threw the last piece of the insanely delicious Zacapa rum petits fours by Candide into my mouth, the Terroir weekend came to an end. A project that, in terms of intensity, hit us like a train and that revealed many things to us that we will never forget. Like to what extent certain parts of the Berlin food scene are ready to commit themselves for a better future and just how much enthusiasm and good vibes exist in the scene. How fascinated our guests from abroad were by the Berlin food scene and how every single one of them wanted to come back. How mucg the chefs cherished the exchange and collaboration between each other. At the same time we also learned that there are many who aren’t interested to engage and participate and how immensely large, slow-moving and complex Berlin’s food scene really is. We saw a lot of positive as well as negative criticism come our way after the symposium. The absolute majority of it was positive though and we saw how hungry people are for inspiration and exchange.
Terroir Berlin 2017 was a very complicated project, both to execute and to finance, and the next months will reveal how the 2018 version of Terroir Berlin will look like. One thing is sure, if Terroir Berlin 2018 is to happen in a similar capacity it needs to be even more community-driven than it is today. If you are passionate about contributing and see yourself as a part of the community, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. Because the only way to truly push our boundaries is to unite and move forward as a collective.
A massive thank you to our main sponsors San Pellegrino Young Chef’s Competition and Zacapa for making Terroir Berlin 2017 happen and of course also to our other sponsors The Store Kitchen, BRLO, Orderbird, Michelberger Hotel, RSVP, Hermann’s, Gastronomixs and Fact0ry Berlin.
An even more massive thank you to all the volunteers and countless other people involved. It wouldn’t have been possible without you.
024″] Black bean Bagna Cauda by Amanda Cohen and Lode van Zuylen[/caption]