Chef Collaborations: L2O & Schloss Berg

Emily Elyse Miller

Contributing to this new wave of culinary collabs, master chefs are working together on a global scale to share ingredients, kitchens, knowledge and inspiration. We had the chance to chat with Matthew Kirkley of L2O restaurant about his plating style, his collaboration with Christian Bau of Schloss Berg from Germany, and plans for the future.

What three words define your plating style?
Focused, minimal, and clean.

How did you and Christian Bau first meet and what sparked this creative collaboration?
I’ve long been an admirer of chef Bau’s works. In January, my wife and I journeyed to his restaurant to dine. It was one of the best meals of my life. After, Christian was kind enough to sit with my wife and I and have a couple of drinks. We started to talk of him coming to Chicago then.

Can you talk a little about how the wine selection process with Daniel Kiowski, chef Bau’s sommelier?
The wine selection was all from Daniel, who has a particular passion for Mosel valley wines. At Schloss Berg, he did a pairing with chef Bau’s menu that was entirely Riesling from the area. It was quite phenomenal. So for his courses at L2O, we wanted to stick with wines from their home area.

Did you both collaborate on each dish or was it more of a split tasting?
We split the menu half Christian and half mine.

How are your plating styles similar and different from Christian’s?
I think that Christian and I both like clean, technical plating. We are both not much for randomness. “Watch-makery” if such a term exists. I tend to be a bit more minimal than Christian, whom has a more grand vision on his plates. His plates have a tremendous amount of detail that I admire.

Can you tell us a little about how you go about selecting the actual plates for a 10-course tasting?
Most were just stock from our collection here at L2O. Christian also uses a lot of Hering china at his restaurant so it was pretty simple to sync up on the physical plates. Though we did buy an oyster plate from Spain for one of his dishes that required that particular piece.

Are you planning a trip to Germany soon for a reverse collaboration?
While there aren’t any plans at the moment, I’d jump at the opportunity to do so.

What ingredient or dish were you most excited to include in this special menu?
I thought that all of the product was particularly special. The hamachi that we shipped in from Japan was particularly beautiful. Both chef Bau and I share a love of all things from the sea, which is another way that we relate. As far as dishes, I really loved chef Bau’s Turbot with Buddha’s Hand and Oyster. Just a brilliant dish.

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Tuna, Avocado, Caviar by chef Matthew Kirkley

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Salade gourmande, foie gras, mojama, haricots verts, truffle by chef Matthew Kirkley

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Deconstructed pigeon by chef Matthew Kirkley

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Chefs Matthew Kirkley and Christian Bau plating