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Aqua*** - Wolfsburg/Germany

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Finally: a first review of the latest three star chef in Germany. Elverfeld's cooking is truly brilliant but much different than Amador, Wissler or Bau. It turns out that there is quite some variety among the group of young top chefs in Germany. Moreover, it is surprising that they are all on nearly the same level of excellence and have closed the gap to European masters like Herman or Goossens. Chapeau!

Here are some excerpts from my blogpost on High-End Food:

"Sven Elverfeld is maybe the most modest and down-to-earth (in the best sense) three star chef in Germany. Born in Hanau close to Frankfurt he was first trained as a pastry chef / confectioner at the Stadtbäckerei Schadeberg in Bruchköbel but then decided that this was not 'enough' and also became a chef - interestingly his second apprenticeship took place at the LSG, the 'cuisine' of Lufthansa, so no-one can really claim that these guys cannot cook, at least theoretically that is...

His first commis post was in the Rheingau at Gutsschänke Schloss Johannisberg where Dieter Biesler was chef de cuisine. Biesler is an institution among German chefs having worked as chef de cuisine in the Restaurant Walterspiel. Sadly, he closed his Weinstube Biesler in Hannover end of 2008. For Elverfeld this first post was clearly a stroke of luck as Biesler is re-known for superior craftsmanship in cooking, excellent product know-how and a dedication to perfecting traditional and rustic dishes. So Elverfeld underwent a really solid further development of his cooking skills. Another classic master, Willi Tetz, followed in the legendary Humperdinck in Frankfurt (one of the first fine dining places in town besides the Brückenkeller).

Enlightenment, the interest for Haute Cuisine, for the truly special moments on the plate came at Dieter Müller. Quite a stretch coming from Bielser and Tetz but Elverfeld could build on his superior technical skills. Three years in Lerbach from demi chef to chef de partie were formative and also some kind of burden for his development as it took some years to really emancipate himself from Müller's style. On his way Elverfeld worked in Kreta, for Katherina Hessler back in Hesse, in Dubai at the Ritz-Carlton before he became chef de cuisine at the Aqua in the Ritz-Carltron Wolfsburg in 2000. First star in 2001, second in 2005 and finally the third in 2009 together with 19 points in the Gault Millau."


No single dish below excellent, some even outstanding - there are not many meals in my life which I recall at that quality, surprising effects and, most importantly, the modification of familiar taste experiences. The latter makes Sven Elverfeld's cuisine truly special and unique: it augments the dining experience by including your mind, your memories and your imagination. In a way similar to what Grant Achatz does with his appeal to our expectations it really creates a body & soul experience.

Compared to November 2007 Sven Elverfeld has developed quite significantly: his creations being more mature, the overall level of cooking being flawless and, most importantly, the cuisine less characterized by a quest for harmony. Now, there are some more rough edges as the surprising elements are more punctuated like the frozen sour cream and the tiny bacon bites. So in a way it became even more intellectually appealing without overburdening the diner. It's like being taken by the hand by Sven Elverfeld and being shown his world of cooking. Yes, its is structuralistic but that's what many others do as well - it's more his touch for flavours and the playful interpretation of classics what makes it so special.

Service is excellent, warm and receptive, very much too the point and never superimposed but of natural friendliness. Charming mâitre Jimmy Ledemazel makes you feel at home and is a benchmark of a host and mâitre. A big thank you to the whole brigade!

Well, Wolfsburg is not the centre of the world but for any foodie this is a must-go - and you can take stroll around in the Autostadt, the VW 'museum' on the past and future of automobiles,visit the Phæno museum or watch a soccer game of one the finest teams in the Bundesliga, VFL Wolfsburg.

A must - I will be back soon!"

Edited by IFS (log)
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Gastronomy in Germany … it’s known for to have the most 3-star restaurants in Europe after France; there are 10 of them. In the Fall of 2008, I went to eat the creations of Dieter Muller and Joachim Wissler (Vendome was excellent) – then, didn’t know why, I just never return to Germany until last month. Although initially, I intended to visit the black forest area, the logistic of the biz trip made it easier for me to go to the “upper” Germany and this how I ended up having dinner at Aqua, the first 3-star Michelin in the Northern region.


Aqua’s location is unique, inside the Ritz Carlton hotel that was situated in the Volkswagen autostadt ‘theme park’. It was not too secluded and can be reached quite easily by a fast train from a major city like Berlin. It was a small restaurant whose capacity was only around 30 people and it was very busy that evening. Surprisingly (or not?), there were plenty of French people occupying 3 different tables. I liked the minimal décor creating a relaxing atmosphere and there’s full windows providing views of old factory, water and the lawn. The table was big and widely spaced between tables.


Nearly all of the German top restaurants have strong French influence in their cooking and in fact all of the head chefs are skillful in executing French cuisine technique. For the case of chef Sven Elverfeld, he belongs to the “young” chefs of the New German school. Additionally, his cooking was playful, and full of surprises. He likes deconstructing and distinctly re-interpreting traditional dishes in modern ways. These can be seen from many of his creations. For this dinner, I ordered the middle option of the grand journey menu. Some memorable dishes were:

-velvety and scrumptious ‘chilled’ foie gras was balanced by grapes’ tartness, ice cream & goat cream cheese. The crunchy walnut was in contrast to the creamy liver. An outstanding beginning and awesome foie gras dish especially coming for someone who arguably never ordered any foie gras dish from the a la carte menu ever

-the kitchen prepared 4 different fish dishes that evening (unfortunately with zero seafood item) and I had 3 of them. Among these, my favorite was a superb Brittany Sole that was carefully executed and covered with tasty pistachio-hazelnut butter. The salsify, with its vague oyster flavor, nicely supported the fish flavor     

-my main course was a wonderful local saddle of wild Venison (covered with thin ‘crumbs/batter’). It was slowly cooked at low temperature resulting in succulent and delicious meat without any unpleasant gamey smell / taste. The jus was also flavorful and the venison was served with cabbage, mustard and berries. It seemed that Germany may have different (and longer) hunting period than France


There were plenty of innovative and tasty dishes that readers could see from the link below. Moreover, at the beginning, we’re given 5 small snacks and at the end, the pastry team delivered 3 mini sweets after the dessert. Service has been friendly, charming and almost flawless. My waiting staff was always ready to do his job yet often not visible to ensure guest’s comfort and ‘privacy’. Food and service were at high levels and very precise – a typical of German engineering finesse. Aqua, along with restaurant Vendome, easily becomes my best restaurant in Germany and the 3-star award was not surprising at all


More detailed review: http://zhangyuqisfoodjourneys.blogspot.co.id/2017/06/aqua-sven-elverfeld.html


Meal photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/7124357@N03/albums/72157682545862183



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