Koppert Cress - Delicate sophistication in a historic setting, Culinaire Saisonnier
With André Tienelt from restaurant Wilder Ritter in Durbach, we once again found such a talented German chef who, with his own vision, uses Koppert's cresses in his delicate kitchen, related to the seasons, but above all carefully dosed.
André is a chef of the calm and deliberate type. His course did not always take place with big names, but he did make well-considered choices. He came to Durbach, located at the foot of the Black Forest, for a specific purpose.
“I'm not a big city type, although I briefly worked in Cologne and Karlsruhe. The choice to come here was mainly a family one. I am a father of three and I did not want them to grow up in the big city. Luckily I got the choice, we are very happy here right now.”
André was only 25 years old when he first became chef. “I got the opportunity for a new construction project with 200 rooms in my hometown of Dresden. I had just finished a period as sous chef for Dieter Müller and felt ready for the next step. One day, a major water disaster completely flooded the hotel and my chef position was gone. Fortunately, many things came my way and I had more interesting jobs to ready to take on. After all, I had already cooked my own star during that period and my style of cooking appealed to many. What appealed to me here at Hotel Ritter was the rich culinary tradition with two stars in the past and the possibility to attract the total F&B to me. I think it is important that our guests taste my signature from breakfast to dinner.”
André would have been able to shape his ambitions more easily, but deliberately chose to be a total chef. Whether it is a classic Badisch farm meal in the stube, the food for half-board guests or the star meal in the Wilder Ritter, his handwriting is clearly evident everywhere.
Koppert Cress in winter
The Badische landscape with which the Wilder Ritter surrounds itself is bursting with wild ingredients and small producers. That is good because André has a clear aversion to too luxurious products.
“I like to cook with my environment whenever possible. The Koppert Cress cresses fit perfectly in my kitchen, but only in the winter months, when the wild herbs no longer find their way into my kitchen. Whether I find that a pity? On the one hand, because the wild ingredients that present themselves are what you live for as a chef. In this cold season we have been using the cress for years, but always dosed. The young people in my kitchen really have to learn to deal with it. Too often they see it as a kind of confetti and do not think about the concentrations of taste. One twig on a dish changes the whole experience for the guest. That way we also look at the dosage and the location of the cresses on the plate. You have to dose them in the right place with the right components to give the experience you have in mind. ”
André has therefore carefully thought about it.
On some dishes he adds a few loose leaves, on others a sprig. Perhaps this is also the right method to experience the cresses. According to the chef, there is no German star chef that Koppert Cress does not know, but he questions whether they all know what the possibilities are and what choices they can make with the cresses. “I think this is another great task for Koppert Cress, there is still a lot to gain in this country. The flavors of the cresses are so concentrated that, due to ignorance, some do not make optimal use of the range. Just look at my dishes. You taste a delicate finesse, making dosing a necessity. But that is what makes it so beautiful. Every chef can color his kitchen with the cresses at his own discretion by the diversity, the concentration, the dosage and even with the preparation.”
The chef does not really cook with cress because his kitchen is not suitable for that. But he is a master in coloring the flavour picture.