A menu that concentrates on local products is still the exception rather than the rule in German haute cuisine. Despite the fact that knowledge of a product and its quality is where every good dish gets its start. Prior to the Stadt Land Food festival, more than 20 grower and chef duos will create menus that aim to make the identity of the farmer, the farm and its products experienceable with the senses. They will be available from Monday 26 September to Sunday 2 October in restaurants throughout the city.
The Stadt Land Food Menu represents one of the aspects of the festival’s theme of “Identity?” – local rootedness. It’s one of the motivations for the brand-new Gemeinschaft für gute deutsche Esskultur (German Culinary Culture Association), a platform initiated by the Berlin restaurants Nobelhart & Schmutzig, Einsunternull, Horváth and Ernst.
According to Billy Wagner, the sommelier and co-owner of Nobelhart & Schmutzig, radically local cuisine means maintaining close contact with the field: The chef who knows and talks to her farmers makes tastier dishes. “It allows chefs to obtain first-hand feedback concerning the quality of a product – and vice versa. With the help of chefs, farmers can also grow with this exchange.”
One of the results? New ideas for local produce. Kale in August, for example. Micha Schäfer, chef at Nobelhart & Schmutzig, had the idea of liberating this versatile vegetable from its traditional seasonal confines. The gardeners at Domäne Dahlem embraced the idea. And voilà, sustainable, locally grown, delicious late summer kale was born. Another example: Milk from Erdhof Seewalde, which chefs at the restaurant use to make an aged butter with a fascinating result in texture and taste – and share that knowledge with the dairy farmers.
And that’s what the Stadt Land Food Menu is about: Bringing farmers and producers together with Berlin’s top kitchens. Nobelhart & Schmutzig with Erdhof Seewalde, Lode & Stijn with the organic Bauernhof Weggun, Horváth with Ökohof Kuhhorst and over 20 more pairs. The goal is to give farms and farmers, who are putting hard work into creating delicious goods as much of an identitiy as the restaurants and chefs. The guest should be able to taste the close relationship that chef and producer maintain. On the search for a polymorphic, always re-negotiable culinary identity, what could be better food for thought than a radically local dinner?