Sophisticated cooking on a rolling dresser: pickled maple leaves and fermented asparagus

Two long, festively set tables decorated with natural materials such as chestnuts, wild herbs and rose hips stand under tall old trees behind the Finowfurt (Barnim) castle estate. In a mobile kitchen under the open sky – with two induction plates, grill, pizza oven and fridge and heating cabinet – three young chefs whirl and conjure up unusual things for the party guests: Pickled maple leaves, filled with cooked spelled and fermented asparagus, or even deer tartar with smoke -Egg yolk and pickled hop tips.

“I had booked the three of them for a dinner party at the castle before. The guests were very impressed and I recognized the potential of these young, creative chefs,” explains Schlossgut Managing Director Marc Lorenz, why he hired the trio. The experienced hotelier wants to turn the Schlossgut site on the Finow Canal, which has been unused for decades, into a nature and culture hostel.

“Extraordinary” dishes offered at the weekly market

Lorenz got to know the three of them at the Eberswalde weekly market, where they offered passers-by quick dishes with their “cooking chest” that he found “extraordinary”: bean salad made from fresh broad beans, white beans, sugar snap peas and tomatoes or even meringues with fresh strawberries and pickles rhubarb and whipped cream.

“When we wanted to build a market stall, a friend advised me: take an old chest of drawers, put castors on it and put a sign on top,” says chef Simon Ortel, remembering the beginnings and the naming of the culinary trio a year ago.

The 24-year-old from Eberswalde completed his apprenticeship in Kirchberg in Tirol (Austria) and later cooked for star restaurants in France and Berlin. “Care, perfectionism and passion as well as a basic understanding of unusual flavors are the most important things when cooking,” he says. During the Corona period, when restaurants were closed, Ortel was looking for career prospects and returned to his hometown. He met Ricco Stiehm from Hesse and Emil Petersen from Saarland through friends.

Industry plagues young talent problems

The two – also with starred restaurant experience – had already given up the cooking profession. “I didn’t want a 16-hour day every day anymore,” Stiehm clarifies. “There are certainly problems with recruiting young people in the chef profession, and by no means all of the training positions offered are filled,” says Andreas Truglia, state chairman of the Berlin-Brandenburg Association of Chefs.

Young people would rather look for jobs in which the work-life balance is right – the harmony of work and private life. “It’s more difficult in the kitchen of classic restaurants,” admits Truglia. Vocational training as a cook has now become more attractive, and digitization and employee management are now also part of it.

I no longer wanted a 16-hour day every day

Rico Stiehm

Stiehm and Petersen came to study at the Eberswalde University for Sustainable Development (HNE). In the organic farming and marketing course, her awareness of regionally produced food grew, says 28-year-old Petersen. “And we also want to convey that to our customers with the answers to questions such as where do the processed ingredients come from, how and under what circumstances were they made?” Of course, this works best with the food, explains Stiehm. That’s why they both picked up the wooden spoon again.

“By the time you’re standing in the kitchen, you’ll know what you’re really passionate about,” admits the 33-year-old. The three young chefs have already created a network of producers of meat, fish, vegetables and baked goods in Barnim and the Uckermark. They collect mushrooms, berries and herbs themselves in the forest.

Cooking events as a specialty

In addition to the weekly market stall, the “cooking dresser” initially specialized in classic catering – albeit with homemade spreads such as spring onion and sunflower cream or pumpkin and cooked lentils with roasted black cumin, butter variations, vinegar-based fruit syrup made from wild herbs and home-pickled vegetables.

In the meantime, the special cooking events with mobile kitchens have become a specialty of the Eberswalde chefs. “There is a market for precisely this type of event,” says Truglia, the country’s head of the Association of Chefs. “The classic catering, I rent a room and have a buffet come, has, however, become obsolete.”

Ortel describes the orders for the three young chefs as increasing. “We can do everything that can be reached in an hour’s drive around Eberswalde.” They complement each other: Emil specializes in wild herbs and desserts such as corn parfait on black elderberry, Ricco is particularly good at goulash, sauces and stews Note and Simon responsible for “everything with dough” after an internship at a baker in Eberswalde. (dpa)

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