Mathias Maucher - Experimenting with courage, Culinaire Saisonnier
We are on our way again, looking for young German star chefs and want to see what our eastern neighbours do with the products of Koppert Cress.
Himmel un Äd
We are on our way again, looking for young German star chefs and want to see what our eastern neighbours do with the products of Koppert Cress. This is how we arrive at the Cologne Hotel Im Wasserturm, where we encounter dishes with courage.
The view is breathtaking from the 11th floor of Hotel Im Wasserturm. "Himmel un Äd" is the appropriate name of the restaurant, high in the sky between heaven and earth.
Mathias Maucher, 32, completed his training to become a Konditor and continued his career as a pastry chef at the age of 18 in Saas Fee, Switzerland. He came into contact with the restaurant world and became convinced that he had gone in the wrong direction. After a year he returned to Germany, went back to school to train for chefs and then worked for seven years in the famous Traube Tonbach with Harald Wohlfahrt.
"It was the hardest school you could imagine, but made me the cook I am now."
He returned to Cologne in 2010 to become chef of the bistro of Im Wasserturm, after which he became executive chef of the hotel's F&B outlets in 2014. Success for the restaurant did not take long, because two months after the reopening and restyling of the restaurant, the coveted Michelin star immediately arrived.
With a sense for the region
Mathias is a young man looking for the right dynamics in his life.
The aim is to get everything out of his career, a family with two children is waiting at home. When we approached him to make a report on cresses, he was enthusiastic immediately. The whole brigade gathered, even on closing day Sunday, to start the experiment. Impressive is the repetition of cresses in the dishes, where the expected dominance of the cresses finds an elegant counterpart of acids, or fats where necessary. It surprises us all the more because we looked at the recipes with some skepticism. So you see again that paper can fool the pallet. Mathias: “Cresses are a fixed value in our kitchen. But what we did for this report is opposite to what we normally do. This time we started with the cresses, analyzed the aromas and flavors and searched for suitable products. There is not often an opportunity to experiment so intensively with the cresses, now we took our chance.” The processing of the cresses determines the main ingredient, after which the intensity of the cress determines the preparation. This gives surprising and unexpected results and fits perfectly in the picture of the growth of Himmel un Äd.
In recent years, the menu has been dominated by dishes that had a safe margin to obtain goodwill in Cologne, a phase has now arrived in which there is room to experiment. Guests are invited to grow with the kitchen in small steps. Thinking in terms of limitations is slowly being pushed aside, Mathias has a kitchen that has a feel for the region, but also wants to open up to the world. After this experiment, the chef has resolved to use the cresses even more.
He says with gusto: "I have a great respect for Koppert Cress for their addition to contemporary German gastronomy."
Himmel un Äd
Kaygasse 2, Keulen
Tel 0049 221 200 80
Source: Culinaire Saisonnier 83 - Winter 2016 (Dutch edition)