Chef Name: Christian Jürgens
Title: Managing Director / Chef
3 Michelin stars
19 Gault Millau points
5 Feinschmecker magazine “F”
5 Schlemmer Atlas spoons
10 pans in the Gusto guide
1st place in Germany, Hornstein-Ranking 2016
Chef of the year 2012, Gault & Millau
Restaurant of the year 2010, Feinschmecker magazine
Restaurant of the year 2010, Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung
Chef of the year 2008, Feinschmecker magazine
How old were you when you started cooking professionally?
I became a chef by accident. When i was 16, my sister ran a gourmet shop and a restaurant with her husband, and when a pot-washer had to be replaced on short notice in the kitchen, there was no question but for me to help where I was needed. In between my other tasks, I was always helping the cooks, and apparently I wasn’t too unskilled at it, because the chef offered me the chance to do an apprenticeship as a cook. I jumped at the opportunity, and that’s how I got into cooking.
What’s your earliest and fondest first memory of food?
I have many memories of good food – at home we always had well-cooked food. And also sensational baked food. My grandmother used to boil down and preserve a lot of food, I remember that. And before she would seal the jars, she would let me taste things with a teaspoon and I could hardly stop, no matter what it was – whether beef roulades or fruit from our garden.
Which chefs inspire you most and why?
Over the years, I have had the great fortune to work with outstanding chefs like Eckart Witzigmann and Heinz Winkler, as well as great personalities like Gerd Käfer. I found these people very inspiring. Today, however, it is with great respect and esteem that I also see a large number of colleagues who do outstanding work. I was particularly impressed by the work of Joël Robuchon.
What are your two favourite cookbooks and why?
Michel Bras’ cookbook, Essential Cuisine, is particularly inspiring.
My other favourite book is Drei-Sterne-Küche für zu Hause by Heinz Winkler.
It was a gift from Heinz. I worked with him for over seven years and the book always makes me remember the great times I had working with him.
Which two ingredients could you not live without?
Love and passion.
What is your favourite comfort food to cook at home?
If you could eat at any Michelin star restaurant in the world today, where would it be and why?
I would go to Alinea in Chicago (Grant Achatz). It’s been on my list for a long time, but unfortunately I haven’t managed to visit the restaurant yet.
And who would you take as your guest?
The love of my life – my wife.
What do you look for in a good chef?
I look for honesty, loyalty, passion, commitment and competence.
What advice would you give to chefs starting their career paths now?
My advice would be that it is important to be committed, and to set a firm goal in mind and then to pursue it with passion, dedication and commitment.
From my point of view, it is also important to always stand up for one’s colleagues and the company, and to put oneself completely at the service of the cause. But this also requires the employer to show exactly the same appreciation and respect to the employee.
One for all and all for one – that is our motto!
How has the pandemic affected your restaurant? And how did you adapt and evolve throughout?
The pandemic has been an unprecedented challenge. However, it also offers opportunities; you can thoroughly question what you have done up to now and also develop your actions further. However, this extraordinary time is also characterised by the need to ensure that our restaurant also survives this crisis, in order to preserve our continued existence and our jobs.
Can you share any wisdom from the experience so far with others? Have you changed? Has your cooking changed?
My wisdom is: try to learn the language of your employees, so that you understand them better and they also understand you better. Because with clear communication there are no misunderstandings, and everyone knows what is important. Then you can set goals together, and achieve these goals together with joy and great enthusiasm.
Chef Christian Jürgens is Managing Director and Chef at Restaurant Überfahrt
Address: Überfahrtstraße 10, 83700 Rottach-Egern, Germany
Telephone: +49 8022 669 0