Welcome to my annual Berlin food retrospective. What a year of eating it has been. I used to be able to keep up and cover most of the interesting, new restaurants, but 2017 will go down in the books as the year when I had to subdue myself to the avalanche of openings. It’s truly been a tremendous year for eating in Berlin, from restaurant openings that will impact the food scene for years to come to the tremendous development of established eateries.
“It’s truly been a tremendous year for eating in Berlin”
There were many restaurants that stood out in 2017 and impacted the scene more than others. One example is Mrs. Robinson’s, who in the course of the year leaped from one level to the nex and established themselves as one of the most ambitious casual fine dining places in the city. Michelin star 2019? Why the hell not? Same goes for CODA, the ever so underrated fine dining restaurant that happens to focus on desserts and cocktails. A stellar restaurant pursuing a concept that’s before its time? Most likely. A unique restaurant that we should be proud of and support? 100%. So do me a favour and visit CODA next year. And while we’re speaking about Michelin stars, since all the casual fine dining places are getting stars these years I’m looking forward to seeing Lode & Stijn getting their star next year. Seems like the least this phenomenal restaurant deserves.
“A stellar restaurant pursuing a concept that’s before its time”
One of the most visible trends of 2017 was the wave of contemporary Thai restaurants, a good indicator how Berlin is starting to keep up with great food cities like London, where this also was a big thing this year. On one part of the city Kin Dee opened, the fantastically delicate and refined interpretation of Thai that taught us so much about Thai cuisine. On the other side of Berlin we had the rowdy crew from Khwan grilling and smoking their way through their version of Thai food. An abundance of emotions from one of the most exiting cuisines in Asia, transferred brilliantly on to plates right here in Berlin. Thanks to both crews for their phenomenal work. And thanks for cooking together during my sensational 5-years of Berlin Food Stories party.
“An abundance of emotions from one of the most exiting cuisines in Asia, transferred brilliantly on to plates right here in Berlin.”
Which leads me to the most important moment of food in Berlin in 2017. I am convinced that true greatness in Berlin food must be achieved by the hands of a few remarkably dedicated characters that spearhead a movement. Somebody has to take charge and lead the way. Billy Wagner and Micha Schäfer from Nobelhart & Schmutzig are doing a remarkable job with the foundation of Die Gemeinschaft, an association of Berlin restaurants dedicated to the cause of quality thinking and the development of the German restaurant culture. I’m convinced what they started will be taken to the next level by the newest member of Die Gemeinschaft. I’m speaking about Ernst, the polarizing 12-seater in Wedding that’s taking produce- and terroir-focused cooking to a level we haven’t seen in Germany before. I don’t know where Ernst is going and I’m not here to speculate if they are going to get Michelin stars or get on lists. I do however know that one day, the unlimited dedication of the very young and immensely talented people behind Ernst will make them one of Germany’s most famous restaurants.
“I do however know that one day the unlimited dedication of the very young and immensely talented people behind Ernst will make them one of Germany’s most famous restaurants.”
A couple of eateries that have come up very strong at the end of the year are Wagner, ORA and St. Bart’s in Kreuzberg, three places we’re surely going to see more of next year. The same goes for JaJa, the lovely wine bar in Neukölln that saw a reincarnation this year with a serious food menu added to its repertoire. Some of the biggest achievements were however made in existing places. It’s one thing to open a place, but a whole different story to improve and develop an existing operation in the way some places have been doing this year. Examples include the very fine restaurants Cordobar, Michelberger Restaurant and Horváth whose tremendously hard work paid off big time and who all today are much better restaurants than they were a year ago.
“Some of the biggest achievements were however made in existing places.”
A personal highlight in 2017 was to organize Terroir Berlin, our city’s very first international chef’s symposium. Terroir was a project destined to fuel the development of the Berlin food scene, a cause close to my heart, and we brought a couple of the world’s most renowned chefs to Berlin to share their stories and experience with us, a strategy I still believe to be pivotal to the development of the scene. We need the world’s best to come to Berlin to show us how it’s done and we need a lot of inspiration from abroad to grow.
“Stay tuned for the ticket release for the first NEU dinner in January.”
There will be no Terroir 2018. Instead we will wait until 2019 in order to make Terroir exactly the kind of event Berlin needs. Instead of Terroir we will however launch a whole new dinner series where some of world’s most famous chefs will cook together with Berlin’s finest chefs in an experimental dinner that challenges everybody involved. The goal: Once-in-a-lifetime meals that you’ll never forget. This project will be called NEU and I’m immensely happy to announce that we will launch the first NEU dinner on February 27th in Berlin. Stay tuned for the ticket release for NEU in January!
Another announcement is the launch of Finest Food Stories, the global version of BFS. It will the place for not only my own food tales from around the world but also for those of my closest friends in food.
I’ll send you into next year with one request: Please somebody finally open an artisanal döner kebab with great ingredients and loads of love that takes Berlin kebab culture to the next level. I’ve waited too long now and it the time has come. Then Billy and me can finally do another Kotti wine tasting with a truly great Döner.
Wishing you and your families a very happy new year. May all your New Year’s Dinners be extraordinary. See you in 2018.
Loads of love,