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Martin Elschner of Restaurant Sonnenburg in Zurich is the S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2015 Switzerland region finalist. The 27-year-old German-born sous chef will showcase his signature dish, entitled River / Land / Earth, at the grand final at Expo Milano 2015 in June. He spoke to us ahead of the big event.
Tell us about your signature dish.
Land, river and earth is a harmonious composition of ingredients that are delicious on their own, but they complement each other extremely well when combined.
What made you decide to become a chef?
To see guests happy after a great meal is my motivation. I loved to cook as a child and can gladly say that cooking hasn’t lost any of its appeal to me over the years.
Which chef or chefs inspire you daily and why?
I get my inspiration form lots of different sources, including chefs like Jacky Donatz, Jörg Slaschek, Phillipe Chevrier, and David Chang. Each of these chefs has his own style. I believe in finding a middle ground between modern techniques and classic cuisine.
What’s the best dish you’ve ever tasted - where did you eat it, who cooked it?
It’s hard to say what the best dish I’ve ever eaten was, but recently at a Kitchen Party at the Dolder Grand, Tim Raue cooked scampi with wasabi and ginger. The composition of textures, temperatures and spiciness was amazing.
What’s the most challenging aspect of S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2015 for you?
To represent Switzerland as a German is a great honour for me and making Switzerland proud will be the most challenging aspect of the competition. It’s an honour to compete with 19 of the best young chefs in the world and the pressure is huge.
What kind of help/guidance would you like from your mentor?
I’m hoping that my mentor will be able to support me with constructive criticism, organisational help and of course his Italian and French skills...
What will you do if you win this competition?
When I win against the 19 best young chefs in the world, I’ll celebrate with my chefs back in Zürich and everyone who supported me during the competition, especially my girlfriend.