From an unlikely beginning on the streets of Berlin to being number 37 on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. Chef Tim Raue climbed the culinary ladder of Germany’s top kitchens in record speed and is living proof that a past does not have to define one’s future. His name used to be the only German one in a crew of a hundred young boys mixed up in robberies, drug dealing, and vandalism. Today his name is one of the hottest among Europe’s culinary elite. His namesake restaurant in Berlin currently holds two Michelin stars, he was named “Restaurateur of the Year 2014” by Gault Millau, he’s published an autobiographical cookbook and was featured in an episode of Chef’s Table on Netflix last year. He’s credited his gangster past with helping him prepare for the often backbreaking life in high-end kitchens, but also firmly believes in the power of looking forward. We had the pleasure of firing a few questions at this incredibly talented, passionate and unbelievably determined German chef.
At Restaurant Tim Raue you serve Asian-inspired cuisine that can be characterized as a blend of Japanese product
perfection, Thai aromas, and Chinese culinary philosophy. Being born and raised in Germany, what inspired you to delve into the Asian kitchen?
“I worked for Swissôtel and Raffles for about five years and they sent me to Asia several times. I fell in love with the techniques and flavors there. After some years I decided to change my style and that’s when I created my current and actual way of cooking.”
How do you source for top-quality Asian products in Germany?
“It’s pretty easy, we’ve been cooperating with Thai farmers since 2005 and receive fresh vegetables and fruits twice a week directly from their farms in Thailand. Dry goods like fish maw, Conpoy and Chinese sauces come via Hong Kong. Japanese goods via Tokyo. We also work closely with METRO in Germany who import most of the things we need.”
How did you decide to become a chef?
“I wanted to become an interior designer or an architect actually, but I left high school early and knew I needed a creative job. So, I came to the kitchen and loved it from day one.”
What was your first job in the kitchen?
“In Germany we have a special way of learning a trade, it’s a three-year dual apprenticeship program in which each month you spend three weeks at work and one week at school. It’s a pretty cool system because you learn a lot, and after three years of on-the-job training you really are a proper chef when you graduate.”
Did you have a mentor when starting in the industry?
“No, and that was quite good for me actually because I learned everything on my own. Even later on I never worked for a three-star chef, which gave me the chance to find my own way of cooking without being influenced by other chefs.”
What would you like to tell the people who ever doubted you?
“In life you have to learn to ignore people. It’s all about your passion and your own idea of pleasing others with your food.”
Knowing your road to the stove wasn’t a very traditional one, if you hadn’t become a chef, what do you think your life would look like right now?
“I don´t care about the past. I am a chef now and I love it.”
What do you enjoy when you’re not at work?
“Drinking great wine with my friends, and meeting interesting people.”
When are you happiest?
“Red wine, sun, my beloved one.”
What has been your favorite dish you’ve ever made?
“My Wasabi Langoustine. It’s a rollercoaster ride for the palate. It has different textures, temperatures and all flavors from sweet, to sour, to salty, to spicy. And its fun! Big time fun!”
You’ve cooked for some pretty impressive people during your career, including the Obamas, is there anyone still on your wishlist who hasn’t come see you yet?
“As a chef you have to learn pretty quickly that every guest you serve is the most important one. If not you will struggle!”
How important are food trends to you?
“I honestly don’t give a shit about trends. I like to create dishes that last for decades.”
What does the German culture mean to you?
“I feel more like a Berliner than a German to be honest. Berlin to me is about giving every human being the space they need to express themselves.”
Do you have a guilty food pleasure?
“Korean crispy chicken, gelato, Cantonese BBQ pork.”
You received your first Michelin star after only three months of opening Restaurant Tim Raue, did you walk into your kitchen with this goal in mind or did it sort of happen without thinking about it?
“I think nearly every minute of every day about how to improve what we cook and serve. I never rest in becoming better.”
What do you consider a chef’s biggest asset?
“There are so many different personalities and there are some amazing artists out there who all have their own strengths. You have the localists and those who focus on a daily twenty-seater, and then there’s the ones like me who need to express themselves with diverse culinary concepts. I think my biggest asset is that I can cook for two, twenty, two hundred or two thousand people, whenever and wherever.”
What advice would you give a starting chef?
“Cooking gives you the chance to create unique pleasures. Do so. With every plate, every second.”
You’ve accomplished so much in your career already, are there any big goals left?
“Every guest is the next big goal.”
Visit Restaurant Tim Raue when finding yourself in Berlin. In the meantime, you can follow all of Chef Tim and his wife and partner’s Marie-Anne Raue’s ventures in photo via Instagram. To read Tim’s story in his own words, his book My Way: From the Gutters to the Stars traces his journey from street kid to two-star Michelin chef and includes seventy recipes from Raue’s kitchen.
If you’d like to try Chef Raue’s famous and favorite Wasabi Langoustine for yourself, scroll down for the recipe!
RESTAURANT TIM RAUE
+49 30 259 379 30
Interior shots by Nils Hasenau
Food photography by Andrea Thode
WASABI LANGOUSTINEMarie-Thérèse Verbruggen From an unlikely beginning on the streets of Berlin to being number 37 on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. Chef Tim Raue climbed the culinary ladder of Germany’s top kitchens in record speed and is living proof that a past does not have to define one’s future...
10 Langoustine Tails (3/5)
7 tbsp (100 ml) Gogi Tempura Flour stirred into water
Fat for deep0frying
Green Rice Flakes:
1/4 cup of Green Rice Flakes
Fat for deep-frying
Cornish Sea Salt
10 tbsp (150 ml) Nam Dok Mai Mango Puree
10 tbsp (150 ml) Pasion Fruit Puree
3/4 tbsp (3 g) Agar Agar Poweder
14 tbsp (200 ml) Mushi Sauce Strained
10 tbsp (150 ml) Rose’s Lemon Cordial
10 tbsp (150 ml) Rice Vinegar
3 1/2 tbsp (50 ml) Lime Juice
1 cup (150 g) peeled and finely diced Carrots
1 cup (150 g) peeled and finely diced unripe Thai Mango
1 1/2 cups (70 g) peel and finely diced Ginger
2 tbsp (15 g) finely chopped Cilantro Stems
For Each Person
4 stems Ghoa Cress
2 tbsp (30 ml) Wasabi Mayonaise
Devein the langoustine tails, wash, and pat dry. Pull through the tempura batter, then deep-fry for 4 minutes in fat heated to 365F/185C.
Green Rice Flakes:
Deep-fry the rice flakes for a few seconds in fat heated to 365F/185C. Place onto paper towels, pat dry, and season immediately with Cornish sea salt.
Bring the two purees to a boil, stir in the agar agar powder, simmer for 3 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a Thermomix bowl and let cool, then process to a smooth gel. Transfer to a spray bottle. Combine all the liquid ingredients and thicken lightly with xanthan. Now stir all the remaining ingredients into the vinaigrette.
This dish sums me up like no other. If I had to reduce my entire career to a single dish, then it would have to be Wasabi Langoustine. This plate has it all, different textures, such as crispy, delicate, and crunchy; hot and cold, sour and sweet, salty and spicy, creamy and runny. A roller coaster on a plate. This plate is me. - Chef Tim Raue