Collectively Berlin boasts 28 Michelin Stars and over 50 Gault&Millau-listed restaurants, but you won’t find some of the city’s most in-demand, classically-trained chefs plating edible soils and souffles or playing with mists and dry ice. No, to see these chefs at work you’ll need to head to a food-truck, a chip shop, and an ice cream parlour instead.
Bunsmobile founders, Pablo Siranossian and Mathilde Bayle, moved to Berlin in 2012 looking for a new platform for their shared gastronomy expertise. They brought with them a wealth of experience having worked in some of Montreal’s best bistronomy and fine dining restaurants, but when Pablo (sommelier) and Mathilde (chef) fell in love with an old U.S GMC truck they saw it as a sign of things to come and converted it into a food truck.
At one of Berlin’s first ever street food events in the summer of 2013, the pair decided to put only two things on the menu: shrimp rolls and burgers. Their beef burger in particular was an overnight success marrying premium local products such dry-aged Brandenburg beef with home-made, US-inspired condiments (including a killer hot sauce). Key to this triumph was their quiet revolution of a product which had, for decades, been bereft of innovation. These days, Bunsmobile is one of Berlin’s most in-demand food trucks.
Jones Ice Cream
For Gabrielle Jones, the infancy of Berlin’s street food events also proved pivotal in captivating customers with a fresh take on a much-loved product. Previously crowned The French Champion of Dessert in 2006, Gabrielle had trained with some France’s most prestigious chefs including Marc Veyrat & Georges Blanc and worked at The Ritz (Paris) as well as La Messardière (Saint Tropez) before moving to Berlin in 2013 to open Jones Ice Cream.
Here her small-batch, hand-produced artisan ice creams and cookies steadily won an army of dedicated fans thanks to high-quality produce woven with incredible skill and transparency into a product which Berlin’s consumers had tasted many times before, but with little variation. For Gabrielle, the German capital represented the perfect place to make a conscious move away from classical pâtisserie in order to dedicate herself fully to one product she really loved.
This migration away from classic kitchens hasn’t escaped some of Germany’s native fine dining chefs either. Vladislav Gachyn and Kajo Hiesl, co-founders of Berlin’s first gourmet chip shop Goldies (and both originally from Germany), readily admit were too frustrated with the (read: slow) evolution of the German restaurant scene to pursue a fine dining project together. The duo met at German star-chef Kolja Kleeberg’s (now closed) Restaurant Vau in Berlin before moving together to work at the 3 Michelin-starred AQUA at The Ritz-Carlton (Wolfsburg) where they dreamt up ideas of a shared restaurant project.
Just like Bunsmobile and Jones Ice Cream, Vladislav and Kajo sought to produce a popular product, impeccably. In this case, chips. From their famed Kreuzberg restaurant the pair now serve up Belgian-style fries with a variety of gourmet toppings including truffle and Peking Duck and have welcomed many of Berlin’s most intrigued Michelin-starred restaurateurs through their doors since opening in 2017.
Keep tasting and Seeking
Gabrielle sees her classical background as a definite asset to her success pointing out that her schooling meant she “kept seeking, and tasting, and knowing something could be better!” Likewise, Vladislav and Kajo knew during their first two months of opening that their chip recipe could be bettered, so with the alchemy of skills they’d learned in previous positions they worked on it until it was.
What unites all these classically trained chefs is a steadfast dedication to making a superb product accessible to everyone. And with “fine casual” restaurants breaking out big internationally perhaps Berlin’s famously uninhibited restaurant scene will become an interesting source of inspiration to others.