An interview with Thomas Bühner
The winners of the Debic Masterclass, Gerald Hoffmann and Felix Brüge from Nuremberg's 1-star restaurant "Koch und Kellner", spent a morning at the stove with Thomas Bühner, Debic Ambassador and founder of his own Chefs Academy. The perfect setting to get to know Thomas with his 30 years of experience in top gastronomy, his philosophy and his approaches.
Thomas Bühner sees his current approach as more topical than ever - a change in star gastronomy is becoming apparent. "There used to be six different preparations of celery or broccoli, but the guests no longer carried that with them because it was incomprehensible. A really good puree, for example with Debic cooking cream or Debic butter, flavored with vanilla, topped with cauliflower florets and a drop of oil, and the guests are delighted. This technique results in a great sensory system.” When asked how flavors can best be teased out, the star chef replies: “The best options come from good ingredients. I have a clear idea of what goes well together. Like ox cheeks and pointed cabbage or Brussels sprouts. Two ingredients, perfectly prepared, that's it, as you can see more and more often on Instagram. I also use sauces sparingly, as they affect the taste of a dish.
When I develop new recipes, it has to be possible to taste each individual component. ”With his menus, the focus is always on the main product, then the side dish, and the sauce comes into play as the connecting element. One dish from such a menu is the crème brûlée from Éspoisses with variations on cherries, which Bühner vividly prepares next. To what extent do trends influence menu design at such a high gastronomic level? "I've never been interested in what other people do, I wouldn't do anything just to provoke, for example put maggots on potato foam to experience the reaction of the guests. There are many very good restaurants that follow trends, but a really top three-star restaurant sets the trend.” The staging of dishes plays a major role, but “show” is not everything for him. Explanations are more important to the guests, they want to understand the dish. A sensible, creative staging can certainly help here. Inspiration is the key to ever new creative menus. However, it is important to keep one's eyes open and to mentally build a bridge to one's own business. And you can find it everywhere.
Instagram is also a very good source of inspiration for the top chef. He sees who his colleagues are following, what people like, decides what he likes and takes notes. “There are a few accounts that are a must for restaurateurs and passionate chefs to follow, including Cookniche and The Best Chef Awards. Social media is very important to all of us. Instagram is far more inspiring than Facebook here. On Facebook there is criticism and discussion, on Instagram a dish can just have an effect. That's just good."
Increase sales per guest
When asked about very practical topics such as the commercial side, for example the increase in sales per guest, Thomas Bühner complains that in many restaurants the guests are not approached proactively. “You have to actively make an offer to the guests, be it offering an espresso at the end or a digestif. This can be done creatively, for example by placing a basket with small digestif bottles on the table, then you don't disturb the guests in their lively conversation - and then they grab it. That sounds trivial, but it isn't.”