In conversation with Tim Raue
Earlier in March Milan hosted an important event—Identita Golose—that has gathered some of the most influential international and Italian chefs who have spoken about their craft and the current global food scene.
One of the most famous and influential chefs in Germany - Tim Raue (2 Michelin stars, 37th place in 50 Best restaurants 2019) visited Milan for the Identita Golose congress, to share his thoughts about the “Evolution Based On Tradition”.
Tim Raue describes his flagship Berlin restaurant (RTR)—a casual fine dining destination —as “a simplicity of Japanese tradition, mixed with the soul and philosophy of thousands of years of Chinese cooking, and an addition of exciting Thai spices”. All together set you upon a taste rollercoaster journey.
"Evolution must be based on tradition"—remarked chef Raue during his keynote in Milan, showcasing this idea through an example of traditional Suckling Pig (a signature dish in his restaurant), which was reinvented with Japanese flavors of dashi, cream of Japanese mustard, and an impeccable technique .
As an advocate for the precision, structure and very hard work, Chef Raue draws focus to the importance of serving dishes that release energy to the body instead of stressing it—thereby dismissing dairy, sugar, and products such as bread, pasta or rice.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
In your book you called “Banana, smoked butter & yuzu”—the dessert with most complex aromas in your career—do you still considered it as such?
T.R.: The mentioned dish marked a point in my life where I was looking for something that was more progressive, not “just to please the guests”. That has now changed and I am more focused on flavours and textures—the dishes we created within the last 3 month at RTR are balanced yet with punchy flavours.
Following from your passion about wine, which German wine would you name your favorite?
T.R.: I prefer the reds from Burgundy, Bordeaux, aged Californians and a handful of Italians. But for the dishes at RTR we aim to perfectly match the dishes. Sweet wines with a bunch of acidity—they work pretty well—as well as oxidized riped whites such as Сhardonnay; the reds—need to have a fruity yet ripe taste.
André Macionga, the sommelier in your restaurant, creates his own cuvées with the winemaker Horst Sauer—how do your customers perceive those creations?
T.R.: The customers love something unique, and the wines of Andre can only be found at our restaurant and they fit perfectly with our dishes, like a match made in heaven. He has been with us for more than 12 years and knows our food till the roots, so he created the wines which first match with the food at the restaurant, as second, which sell well to the clientele outside.
“There are always trends, and this decade is all about pictures and posting, but with time, the created tsunami of visuals will just make people tired.”
For the artistic curation of your restaurant, do you select each of the art pieces yourself?
T.R.: Marie-Anne (Marie-Anne Raue is founder and CEO at the Restaurant TIM RAUE since July 2010) and I came into the restaurant space in 2010, at that time the entire house hosted 7 galleries. Most of our neighbours where in art business and everyone wanted us to exhibit their artist, so we started to buy our own pieces of art to avoid frequent monthly changing of art at the restaurant. We were carefully selecting each piece, looking for expression in different mediums such as installation, oil painting, street art, photography, and illustrations.
An artist you recently discovered that has impressed you?
T.R.: Stefan Strumbel is a german artist, that inspired me last year. He came from street art and has become the most important artist of his generation for contemporary. His overarching theme "Where the fuck is heimat" is about our roots and how we transfer them in our work and life.
Recent restaurant experience where you enjoyed being a guest? What stood out to you the most?
T.R.: Casual—Langosteria in Milan. It is an amazing restaurant space, with a unique atmosphere, all about seafood and the greatest wines of Italy and France in a casual setting.
Fine dining—Odette (No 1 in the Asia ‘s 50 Best Restaurants List 2019) in Singapore, the dishes are a very nice twist between classical French and Asian cuisine, the service is beautiful.
Street food—the "styra hot dog" in Graz, Austria, at the "Standl 5"—its the best hot dog I`ve ever had! The sausage is great, in combination with the local ingredients such as the salad, pumpkin seeds and their mayonnaise has everything I`d like to get out of street food: hot, crunchy and yummy.
In on your opinion, what does it take for a restaurant to become a dining destination?
T.R.: First of all a unique culinary concept, that fits in an atmosphere, food and the people that are capable of running it perfectly.
What new experiences and destinations interest you at the moment, that you would like to try or where would you like to travel to?
T.R.: I travel more than 100 days per year, so I love to be at one of my 3 homes. Surely it’s a honour to be in one of my restaurants and see the great teams that run them, as well as the guests who enjoy chatting with me and take selfies.
You once said that plating doesn’t play a crucial part. As we are living in a controversial era of Instagram—do still think this way, or has your opinion changed?
T.R.: There are always trends, and this decade is all about pictures and posting, but with time, the created tsunami of visuals will just make people tired.
You have been featured in shows like “Kitchen impossible” and “Ready to Beef” on German TV—how did you find this experience? Did you ever watch it, and did it affect your perspective of self?
T.R.: TV is entertainment, so my job is to be entertaining in a honest way, that fits with me.
TV is less than 10% of what I am doing.
…a few questions from PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE:
What is your ultimate luxury?
T.R.: Offline. And a day without a schedule.
Who would you celebrate good news with?
T.R.: The ones who are closest to me.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
T.R.: You have to ask the people around me.
Gustatorial thanks Chef Tim Raue and Identita Golose for an opportunity to conduct this interview.
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