Culinary events like this are always very exciting for the guest chefs but for the actual guests too. One can not be certain how to work in an unfamiliar kitchen but it is for sure a great opportunity to meet new colleagues and see old friends again. Two weeks ago I had the chance to cook at the beautiful Seezeitlodge Hotel & Spa. The hotel stands in the middle of the green, is built close to the water and that is why it is such a happy place. A free spirit yet grounded, exposed on a small wooded cape – with a proud view over the Bostalsee in the Sankt Wendeler Land.
Linked to regional cultural history, already the Celts settled in the nature park Saar-Hunsrück in the north of the Saarland. The forest still houses the stone witnesses of this culture, the famous Celtic ring wall in Otzenhausen is only a few kilometers from the hotel. “We feel connected and committed to this biography.” Kathrin & Christian Sersch, the owners want to invite their guests to be inspired. Whether wellness, culinary, architecture or design – ancient knowledge of rhythms of life, seasons, nature rituals and medicinal herbs flows in the recovery and enjoyment as Celtic references.
Kathrin & Christian Sersch are truly living this vibe but also managed to build up a team spirit, that makes it a very nice place to be part of the Seezeitlodge family. Everybody of the team members was just very respectful, friendly and a joy to get in touch with.
The Culinary Part
Since the beginning Daniel Schoefisch is part of the family, being responsible for all the culinary aspects of the hotel. Daniel´s vita is as stunning as it can be. Born in Berlin, he made his Master in cooking at the Heidelberg college of hotel management and was a very successful member of the German national culinary team in his early years. He cooked in various top hotels and made his way from Vienna to the Seezeitlodge, where he was chef de cuisine of the Bank restaurant at Park Hyatt Vienna. Daniel has a great knowledge of cooking but is also very enthusiastic towards his team and new challenges. On a daily basis he is satisfying his guests with local ingredients and fine cooking but always works hard to develop things further.
His idea of a culinary gathering was met with enthusiasm by Kathrin and Christian and about 200 guests were lucky enough to be part of this great evening. All the guest chefs were asked to create a “culinary business card” and came up with a variety of dishes to best represent their cooking. The result was a great mix of ideas, that made a true culinary experience for all the participants. Each chef was setting up his own station and the guests could just float from chef to chef, while sipping a nice glass of wine. If you ask me, the possibility to walk into a professional kitchen and watch what is mostly hidden, is a fantastic chance to create a dialog between guest s and chefs.
Underneath you will find some impressions of this fantastic night and all the dishes being served.
Stefan actually runs his own restaurant but is baking for the hotel too. He told me that he could not live without baking and therefore provides the Seezeitlodge with fresh bakeries. Stefan was responsible for one of the essentials in dining: the bread. He was baking twist bread for the ham station. At first sight it does not look or sound that special, I got to admit but after talking to him in person (as he is a real character) it was a really well tasting dish. The dough was aged, while soaking up some extra virgin olive oil. He then twisted the dough around beech wood sticks which were actually giving taste to the bread. Combined with the hams and the serving from Stefan, this was a very nice kick off for the evening.
Ben was the junior chef de cuisine of the Seesteeg Hotel at the island Norderney. Funny coincidence as I did live there too for a few years as a youngster to do my apprenticeship. We know each other from working at the Grand Hyatt Berlin a few years ago. Ben was making a marinated and slightly smoked North Sea mackerel with citrus fruits, beluga lentils and coriander. A very light and aromatic dish for the start which was well balanced between the smoky mackerel and the acid of the fruits.
Third in the row has been Felix, the executive chef of the upcoming ANDAZ in Munich. Felix and I know each other for years, competing in the national culinary team, cooking in some restaurants and even being flatmates. His cooking has always impressed me and his dedication for cooking is so enormous, one can easily taste it in his creations. Felix prepared a vegan starter for this occasion which was a Tatar of beets, marinated broccoli stems, hazelnuts and oyster leaves. So simple yet so delicious and soon to be found on the menu in Munich. Another proof of good and contemporary nutrition. Well done…
Martin is the chef de cuisine of LOUIS restaurant and PASTIS bistro in the wonderful LA MAISON hotel, Saarlouis. I did not know him before but fortunately had the chance to be his guest prior to the event. His cooking was exceptional, the service was wonderful and well-versed and the atmosphere was just matching the whole product. Martin cooks in a great way and comes up with lovely combinations to surprise his guests…we will sure here of him in the future. I very much liked his down to earth attitude and am sure he will do his way. For our evening Martin prepared a seared scallop with veal, tarragon mustard, pineapple and curry. Tasted as good as it sounds I can tell.
The delicacy supplier, known for premium products to supply the top gastronomy and chefs was sponsoring a dish too for the night. Of course with having a French heritage it was a lobster dish. In this case a risotto, simply a tasty dish.
Richard and I met each other at the airport for the first time. He is a straight forward person with this hands on mentality you wish for when working together. The chef de cuisine of The Bank restaurant at Park Hyatt Vienna came up with his signature dish: a golden trout from Trauntal, sherry vinaigrette, aubergine and smoky almonds. Very tender and great in taste. Everybody who was joining this night could tell. In Vienna he cooks a lot with sweet water fishes rather than exotic imported ones. The results are plates like this with a strong local influence that give you a taste of his country.
Every great food needs a great wine to be accompanied with. In this case Hensel wine was presenting some of their fine liquids. The winery Hensel from Bad Dürkheim in the Palatinate has risen in recent years to the top companies in the Palatinate. This is and was mainly due to Thomas Hensel, the current owner of the winery from Bad Dürkheim. Because he made the Hensel wines to what they are today, with the best of the Palatinate. The Hensel family has been practicing viticulture in the Palatinate for more than 300 years. But only with Thomas the development has once again really preceded.
Josef was the most experienced chef of us and the former executive chef under whom a lot of us have been working. Josef traveled the world, working on various parts of the globe before opening the Grand Hyatt Berlin. Ever since he has been setting culinary standards in Berlin and brought up a lot of top chefs during the years. Today he decelerated a bit, working as a culinary advisor. For occasions like this though, he will happily cook his signature dish. The ox cheek cappuccino with celery, linda potato and truffle has been served by him for some big shots of politics and societies already, such as the German chancellor…and everybody just loves it. No wonder the guest queued up to get a taste.
Sure our culinary host prepared a course too. Daniel and his team were serving a beautiful trilogy of the Hochwald deer, consisting of a ravioli, a glazed tongue and a smoked back to be accompanied with cabbage and celery. It was a very polarizing dish, if you ask me but if you like deer and cooking with cuts like the tongue, then it truly was heavenly. I really loved it, as it was strong in taste of the smoky back and the intense ravioli being brought together by the cabbage and the creamy celery. Brave dishes like these, with a strong heritage yet in contemporary combinations are well to rare for my taste. So thumbs up for his cooking.
Some of you might recognize Simon or had even hold a product of his company in your hands. He is not only the chef de cuisine of the Biohotel zur Rose in Ehestetten but a cookbook author, TV chef and one of the four Kuechenbrueder too. A quite busy man one might say now but Simon is living the bio-way in everything he does. He personally knows the producers of his ingredients and is truly convinced that this is the only way to respect humans, animals and nature. A very big theme which might needs an own blog post. Simon served a grilled Onglet with carrots and potato foam and it was a blast. I mean there were no exotic flavors neither combinations you would go crazy with, no it was just perfectly cooked and had everything to put a smile on your face.
When I received the invitation from Daniel a few months ago, the plan was to actually serve a savory dish but sometimes it all happens to go another way and so we changed my course to be a dessert. I called him up to ask for some specialties of the region and soon found out about Viez, a very common liquid for the Saarland. Viez is a traditional apple wine and just matched with the season for me. I created this sugar free and vegan dessert with Viez being the base. On the plate one could taste a caramelized sour dough cream with Viez infused apples, walnut dust and herbs sorbet. I thought if you had all these dishes before it should be light and refreshing before having the next bite at the cake display. I liked it a lot and think it made a good finish.
It was great to see one of my former team members performing in such a great way as the pastry chef of the Seezeitlodge. Nico was working with me for quite a few years in Berlin and was now in charge of his own team and operation, even supporting Daniel as his right hand. He delivered a huge cake and sweets display for this night, including an apricot-wasabi entremet or tempting matcha eclairs to name just a few. Everything was neatly decorated and cooked or baked with perfection. People just loved it and who can actually resist all these little treats?
Who could go home without a bite of cheese? I could not and therefore the Luxembourg based supplier of many fine foods sponsored this part of the evening. Being accompanied by the two french apprentices, this displays was not only delicious but it had a certain atmosphere too.
The French company is just synonymous for chocolate as no other and can be found in a lot of gourmet temples all over the globe. I can not even remember how many kilos I have used during the past years in the kitchen and how many guests came into the joy of this cocoa product. After making your way through all of the different stations and dishes, one ended up with a nice espresso and delicious Valrhona chocolates.
The Seezeitlodge is a place to decelerate and to get back to yourself, without being out of time. Switch of your phone and just be in the present. Come here and enjoy the beautiful Spa or have a coffee and a piece of Nico´s cakes while looking over the Bostalsee. Time is not important, simply relaxation. I have felt more than welcome and am quite certain everybody who joined feels the same. It has been a great night with delicious food and great wine. I had good conversations and met a lot of very nice people. If there will be a second edition in the future, I will sure be back.
Thanks Kathrin, Christian & Daniel for having us.
Photography © Seezeitlodge Hotel & Spa / FOTOGRAFIE PRISMA / Günter Standl