Widely renowned as one of Germany’s most noteworthy chefs for over 20 years, Thomas Bühner has developed a unique, always contemporary, three-dimensional, aromatic culinary style. “My aspiration is to inspire with my modern three-dimensional aromatic cuisine,” explains Chef Thomas Bühner. “The first dimension constitutes each individual product’s natural flavor. The second dimension describes how dishes are prepared. The third dimension represents the extensive range of the cuisine.”
While at beautiful Sani Resort, to attend this year’s Sani Gourmet Festival, I was honoured to finally meet the great Maestro himself, German Chef Thomas Bühner (with 3 Michelin Stars and international acclaim, previously of La Vie, Osnabrück, Germany), after deeply enjoying his special menu.
But I wasn’t alone this time. With me was Yiannis Kedes, an entrepreneur of Northern Greece’s bar-restaurant scene and equally multiply awarded for his entrepreneurial adventures. We had previously driven the distance from Thessaloniki to Sani together – in an elegant and sharp Porsche 718. Just to meet him.
And while chatting with them both after dinner, it hit me: they had a lot more in common than I could have possibly imagined. Although different, their core beliefs, ethics, humour and ways were indeed very, very similar. Most importantly: when they want something, they create it. And it usually involves high speeds. And a lot of traveling. Besides, they both belong to that rare species that is in endless search for the next mouthwatering big bang – when it comes to playing with tastebuds.
And so the next morning, during our scheduled meeting for the interview, I decided to let Mr Kedes ask the questions, and I simply stayed by their side, taking pictures, enjoying every moment of that conversation. Imagining, and secretly smiling about, what a future synergy between these two great men could look like, if they dared. Heaven, is the answer.
Your favorite color?
I love every kind of food as long as it is really well prepared. The variety of food we have in our society is the greatest luxury we have in our age.
Love and passion.
The one ingredient you’d prefer to never use.
Ben Kinsley, Christoph Waltz.
Name the man you have looked up to, growing up. Who inspired you to be the man you have become?
Bud Spencer, Terence Hill J.
Name the most stylish man (dead or alive).
A chef you look up to.
Paul Bocuse, Eckhard Witzigmann.
Describe yourself using three words.
Team player, disciplined, focused.
What is the ultimate luxury for you.
Time spent together with my wife.
What inspires you the most for each new dish or menu?
Amazing fresh products, lazy times.
Describe cooking in three words.
Variety in taste, technically demanding, surprising.
If you were a dish, what would it be?
Something mouth filling, warm, crunchy and soft inside, a little bit surprising with influences from Asia.
The most important lesson you were taught within a kitchen.
You are nothing without an excellent team in the kitchen. you can have an excellent kitchen team but you are nothing without an excellent service team
When did you know that this is what you wanted to do?
After I did something like a personality test at the job center.
How important are the ingredients used? What really constitutes luxury, when it comes to food?
Ingredients are important but only one side of the coin. Equally important but often forgotten is the quality of the prep you do. You can easily destroy the best products because you choose the wrong prep, overcook it or choose wrong side dishes.
Who is the client that you would ideally serve?
Open minded, interested, brave enough to try out new things and able and willing to enjoy the evening.
Where do you imagine yourself to be in –say- ten years from now?
Still in the restaurant business, with some different restaurants in Europe, near East and Asia and a team around me to rock them all.
Imagine you were to host a private dinner party, say for five guests. Who would you invite, serve and dine with? (They can be dead or alive, imaginary list)
Barack Obama, Angelina Jolie, George Clooney, Sebastian Vettel, Jacinda Ardern PM New Zealand.
What can be considered as “ethical”, “modern” and “sustainable” when it comes down to cooking? Are these topics as a keynote speaker and consultant?
Yes for sure, all three are worth to speak about! Ethical means to check exactly how the things we process grow or are produced. But it also means to use them in their entirety and thus to make something out of all the things you want to do. It is a demand that is not only directed to the cooks, but also to the guests.
Modern also means contemporary without forgetting the past. Dare to do something, but do not overdo guests. Sustainable work is the hardest thing to do, conserve resources, or deal responsibly with it is becoming increasingly important. The task is to combine that with the expectation of luxury. It requires all our discipline.
From April 2006 since July 2018, you have been running restaurant “La Vie” in Osnabrück. What was the biggest lesson that this culinary adventure taught you?
If you give everything, you can reach everything! Teamwork makes your dream work.
Oscar Wilde once said “Regrets, just like mistakes, make a gentleman”. What is the one thing you regret having done? What would you have done differently on your path?
Maybe I understood too late how marketing works in the restaurant. Only good cooking is not enough today. Therefore, the advice of all young excellent cooks is to take care of it. However, it is not enough to make marketing if it is not backed by performance.
Was Sani Gourmet 2019 a challenge for you? If yes, why?
It´s always big challenge to go into another kitchen. At Sani Gourmet we had many Team members and they took excellent care of us and you could see they have a lot of experience in Guest chef events.
Why did you go for the menu you presented? Why these dishes? What do they mean to you?
All dishes are representing my understanding of cooking and style, they were signature dishes of the la vie and we have had products we were able get in perfect quality.
What kind of a driver are you?
I love to drive fast, but safe, not to race but already to meet the circumstances quickly. I am a forward looking driver and love the acceleration.
Favourite soundtrack to listen to while driving.
The sound of the engine has always been my absolute favourite music.