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01. December 2011
Tom Eisele is part of a new generation of chefs focusing on regional produce and recipes. The result is a new, innovative German cuisine that stands for an ability to emphasize with guests. Tom Eisele recently opened his own restaurant, Fiona Reymann.
It seems as if the new generation of chefs is splitting up into two large movements. The meat lovers vs. the meatless. What is meat to you?
Meat is nature. Man has been eating meat for milleniums. Nonetheless, working with and consuming meat entails a certain responsibility in my eyes. It's a food made from slaughtering a living creature, so I believe it is essential to use respect and dignity when working with or consuming meat. I had a classic French training and Alfred Klink's Freiburg cuisine strongly influenced my work, and the groundwork for my enthusiasm for working with meat were laid here.
Why does meat play such an important role for you as a professional chef?
I have always worked with meat, but I try to figure out where it came from and how the animals were treated. I work closely with a hunter and a farmer who rears lamb so I can use their meat without a guilty conscience. The taste and quality is incomparable since all of the animals are reared species-appropriate and grow up without any stress. And I only use whole animals. This way, I can exploit even the parts that others consider “inferior”. A majority of restaurants only use the most noble parts but I see it as a personal challenge to work with every part of the animal. Veal from New Zealand would never find its way into my kitchen.
Where do you draw the line with out of line food trends?
I'm very sceptical of “XXL” food. I get angry when I see a Schnitzel whose sides are hanging over the plate left and right. I get even angrier if half of the giant Schnitzel gets thrown away because it's just too much for one person. An animal basically died for nothing. People are starving not even four flight hours away.
How much meat do you consume in your free time?
I LOVE a well-hung, medium rare 500g steak with a little fresh baguette. I prefer one high quality serving over three mediocre ones. “Filetstück” has the best meat in town.
What about your vegetarian guests?
Vegetarians have never had it easy with me. I work predominantly with meat and I don't plan to compromise on that. I admire chefs like Michael Hoffman, who can cook seven or more vegetarian courses. My guests know my cooking style – but that doesn't mean vegetarians will have to starve. They just have to know that they can't expect the versatility I offer my meat eating guests. It's not always easy to cook for vegetarians – some eat eggs or fish, some don't. Some are completely vegan. But I leave that niche of cooking to those who have made it their realm of expertise.
What meaning does meat hold for the holidays?
Traditionally, my family has always eaten a lot of meat. My grandfather was a hunter and my father had good connections to local huntsmen. On Christmas, we always had goose with Prussian cabbage and game with red cabbage and apples and Thuringian dumplings. Usually, my father or my Bohemian great-grandmother would cook. Many of their recipes have influenced the food I cook today. I always take a trip back to my childhood when I'm coming up with Christmas menus at the restaurant. When I cook, I always feel like my great-grandmother is watching me. There's something very contemplative about it. It's also why I look forward to Christmas every year.
Fräulein Fiona, Fritschestraße 48, Berlin-Charlottenburg, Tel. +49 30 95 60 22 72, Mon-Sat from 5pm