When you think of dining destinations around the world, Germany usually isn’t one of the first to pop into your head. It comes as a surprise that Germany actually has 10 three Michelin starred restaurants under its belt. Amongst these you’ll find restaurant Aqua, in Wolfsburg. Headed the kitchen is former pastry chef Sven Elverfeld, who is reinventing German cuisine with strong attention to detail.
Take a moment and join us as we get a taste of German cuisine with chef Sven.
What is important to know or understand about German Cuisine?
Every region of Germany has a traditional cuisine which is very good, solid, and substantial. Unfortunately, you cannot find these traditional dishes as often as 40 years ago. For some past creations, it was very important for me to use ingredients and contents of traditional dishes to define a new version with my modern view and experience.
How would you describe your own cuisine? Are you doing something different?
I would say I have a very independent cuisine that distinguishes itself by its sophisticated harmony of aroma, characteristic flavor, and texture. Quite often, my dishes reconnect to a personal memory and tell their own story.
What kind of flavors and dishes are you creating?
I really like to highlight the original taste of a product, and when I am creating a new dish, I know the taste I am aiming for. As I don’t want to lose the taste of a product, I prefer not to mix up too many things. Furthermore, sometimes I like working with combinations such as seafood with meat. But it’s always very important that the flavors are harmonious and contrasting at the same time.
What is your philosophy or concept when it comes to your cuisine?
Attain your goal with commitment and love for detail.
Where and from whom do you draw inspiration?
Most of my ideas come when I am free in my mind and usually not at work. It doesn’t work if you say, “I need a new idea, so let me find one.” I do not look to my left or right and do my own thing, because if you look too much around you, then you can get confused. For me, it is more interesting to check out different producers and products. The products of each season are my main inspiration for creating a dish.
What kind of guests do you find coming to your restaurant and from where?
Most of of our Aqua guests are Germans who are coming for a dining experience in our restaurant. As we are situated at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel, we have visitors who come for business reasons, as well.
Quite a lot of guests are booking one of our packages which combines a night in the hotel with a dinner at restaurant Aqua. At Aqua, we have 8 to 10% international guests. We do get a lot of customers from Hamburg and even more from Berlin – a more well-known tourist destination, and just an hour away by train.
Do you think Germany can and will serve as a culinary destination in the future?
In my mind, Germany should already be a culinary destination. We have ten 3 Michelin star restaurants which are well distributed within Germany. And through our very good infrastructure, all of them are easy to reach. All of these restaurants have a very high cooking standard and offer varied cuisine. Furthermore, Germany has a lot of sights and attractions which can be combined with a culinary experience.
Holding 3 stars is incredible. What does this mean to you, and how do you distinguish yourself from the other 3 Michelin restaurants in Germany?
It’s very reassuring to see that our efforts are paying off and are cherished. Furthermore, it’s a big motivation for the whole team, and I am expecting that everyone gives 100% every single day. We are a very coordinated team that works precisely, and everybody helps each other. That’s really helpful and improves our working.
What is your personal approach to plating your dishes?
The plating of a dish is definitely not the first thought you should have. First, it’s important to think about the flavor combination of products, the textures, and the cooking technique. If you have done this, it’s much easier to plate the dishes. Behind every dish of mine is a story which also affects the plating.