Whether it’s Michelin stars or Gault-Millau toques – behind these awards you will always find vision, a great love of food, expert craftsmanship and, last but not least, the hard work every creative head chef must put in daily with his or her team. Munich seems to inspire leading chefs, with the Bavarian capital topping the gourmet charts year after year.
A total of eight Munich restaurants have achieved top results in Germany’s 2020 edition of the Gault-Millau gourmet guide, with between 17 and 19 toques out of a possible 20. 17 toques went to: Alois - Dallmayr Fine Dining, Les Deux, Pageou and Fine Dining Alfons (closed since January 2020). Esszimmer and Tantris received 18 toques, whilst 19 toques were awarded to Atelier in the luxury hotel Bayerischer Hof and to Geisels Werneckhof (closed since June 2020).
Jan Hartwig, head chef at Atelier in Munich, has been named as one of a total ten German three-star chefs in the 2020 Michelin Guide. Munich has five two-star restaurants: in addition to Tantris, Alois - Dallmayr Fine Dining, Geisels Werneckhof and Esszimmer, Les Deux also received an additional star. The following restaurants retained one Michelin star: Schwarzreiter in the Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten, Showroom, Acquarello, Tian and Gabelspiel.
In 2020, the restaurant Mural in the Museum of Urban and Contemporary Art (MUCA) and the Sparkling Bistro (closed till September 2020) joined the ranks of Munich’s one-star restaurants. In addition to excellent cuisine, each of the starred restaurants also offers diners a refined setting – from the traditional to ultra-modern design – in which to relax.
The listed 1970s building that houses legendary gourmet temple Tantris has achieved cult status in Munich. The building is one of the most prominent examples of post-war architecture in the city. The venue itself is considered the cradle of award-winning German restaurants. The name Tantris means “the quest for perfection”. For many years, creating perfect culinary delights has been the mission of star chefs Eckard Witzigmann and Heinz Winkler: the pair has trained many of Munich’s top chefs in the high art of French cuisine. Now 76 years old, Witzigmann has held the title of “Chef of the Century” since 1994 – an honour Gault-Millau has bestowed on just four individuals worldwide to date, among them Paul Bocuse.
Witzigmann’s protégé Hans Haas has been head chef at Tantris for many years and his culinary skill enabled him to achieve two Michelin stars and 18 Gault-Millau toques again in 2020. The Tyrolean native grew up in a farming family, but was more interested in cooking than agriculture from an early age. To this day, his cuisine is characterised by the use of regional and natural foods. After nearly three decades Hans Haas will be leaving Tantris at the end of 2020.
“There is often difficulty in simplicity. Simple and focused on the flavour. Above all, it needs to taste great. That is the most important thing when it comes to food, right?“
Traditional Munich hotel the Bayerischer Hof has been owned by the same family for over a hundred years. The house was opened by royal command as long ago as 1841. Its guest list includes such illustrious personages as Empress Elisabeth of Austria and her husband Emperor Franz Joseph I, not to mention Franz Kafka and Sigmund Freud. During its lifetime, the five-star hotel has also served as a retreat for Michael Jackson and his family while they were staying in Munich.
In keeping with the traditions of the hotel, many parts of the Bayerischer Hof are open to locals, including its luxury restaurant, Atelier. The restaurant was designed by Belgian interior designer, art collector and antiques dealer Axel Vervoordt in the style of an artist’s studio, with antique side tables, a private room and a tranquil terrace, planted with Amur maples. Atelier’s head chef, Jan Hartwig, has carved out an impressive career in a few short years. The three stars awarded by the Michelin Guide for the third time in a row in 2020 are the icing on the cake in a series of successes: In 2017, he was voted “Rising Star of the Year” by the judges of the Gault-Millau gourmet guide. Just a year before that, he was nominated “Chef of the Year 2016” by Feinschmecker gourmet magazine. In Germany’s 2020 edition, Atelier received 19 out of 20 toques from Gault-Millau.
“I am proud that, with the help of my team, I have managed to make a name for myself within such a short time. That motivates me. I give my all to ensure that my guests enjoy their food a little more with every visit. Like a professional footballer, I am always setting myself more and more ambitious goals: if I win 2-0, I ask myself why we didn’t win 4-0.”
The origins of the Alois Dallmayr delicatessen date right back to the early 18th century. The original store, located in Munich’s old town, is one of the largest of its kind in the world, and a wander through its ground-floor delicatessen department is considered one of the highlights of a stay in Munich. The luxury restaurant was opened on the first floor at Dallmayr in 2006 and has since been awarded two Michelin stars under its new head chef, Christoph Kurz. Alois - Dallmayr Fine Dining sees itself as a restaurant that serves light, contemporary cuisine in a relaxed atmosphere. In an interview with the Allgemeine Hotel- und Gastronomie-Zeitung, Christoph Kurz, head chef at Alois since 2018, describes what he considers success: “Our guests should be so impressed by the quality of the dishes on their plates that they’d love to have a second helping.“
The futuristic BMW Welt building, designed by architectural duo Coop Himmelb(l)au is home to a luxury class gourmet culinary establishment. It is here that Bobby Bräuer runs his gourmet restaurant, EssZimmer. The name, meaning “dining room”, is indicative of the cosy yet luxurious setting, with its open fireplace, elegant wood and dark leather, all of which is intended to make guests feel truly at home. Munich-born top chef Bobby Bräuer and his team are synonymous with exquisite French cuisine. The Michelin Guide considered this to be worth two stars again in 2020 and Gault-Millau awarded him 18 toques. As a special offer, all guests are offered a free, exclusive chauffeur service after their meal, to anywhere within the Munich metropolitan area.
“All star chefs can cook. I think what makes EssZimmer so special is the setting it offers – it’s modern but still cosy. We want our guests to enjoy simply arriving and succumbing to enjoyment without disruption. That is why I never ask my guests if they have enjoyed their food, but rather whether they have had a nice evening.”
Since January 2017, head chef Dominik Käppeler has been continuing the tradition of foodie hotspot “schweiger 2” in Munich’s Au district under the new name Showroom. The chef has been defending the restaurant’s Michelin star since 2015, and strives to ensure continuity and identity in the city’s smallest starred restaurant. A fixed menu, changing every 14 days, is served in the pleasantly bright, intimate setting of Showroom.
“You think eel, banana, mustard and Stilton don’t go together? Oh, but they do – it’s all about aroma pairing. Let your palate decide whether it tastes good – not your head!”
Inside the Schäfflerhof – one of Munich’s finest shopping destinations, found in the square formed by Theatinerstrasse, Maffeistrasse and Schäfflerstrasse – the Les Deux restaurant extends over two fully-glazed storeys. Fabrice Kieffer from the Alsace and his wife Katrin Kieffer have come up with their own combination of a restaurant and brasserie, “Les Deux”, which has been awarded two Michelin stars and 17 Gault-Millau toques in 2020. Fabrice learned from Heinz Winkler at the “Residenz” restaurant in Aschau, where he won important awards as a maître d’ and chef, before opening Les Deux in Munich and realising the dream of having his own restaurant. The restaurant on the first floor serves modern and diverse French cuisine, while classic and international dishes can be enjoyed in the brasserie on the ground floor.
Fabrice and Katrin Kieffer: “Our restaurant combines Bavarian hospitality with Frenchcharm. My wife and I are always there for our guests. Our kitchen offers a somewhatlighter take on traditional French cuisine with occasional Asian flavours.“
Heinz Winkler has also played an important role in the career of Mario Gamba, an Italian from Bergamo who trained alongside the legendary chef for 12 years. For over 20 years, he has been serving the very finest Italian cuisine in his restaurant in Munich-Bogenhausen, Acquarello, and his establishment is widely acknowledged as perhaps the best Italian eatery outside Italy. Aquarello also retained a Michelin star in 2020, as well as 15 toques from Gault-Millau. Gamba cites his pure joy in cooking and preparing food as the motivating factor that drove him to leave his job as a translator of French and Spanish and try his hand at cooking – which, incidentally, he taught himself.
“I am not a great chef. But I cook as if my family are sitting out in the dining room. All I do is simply separate the good from the bad. It is that easy to create quality. My cooking tastes of the Mediterranean, the sun, and a zest for life.”
Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten Kempinski forms part of the architectural landscape of Maximilianstrasse. King Maximilian II was heavily involved in the planning of the boulevard, and the hotel was built at the king’s behest in 1858. The hotel’s Schwarzreiter Tagesbar & Restaurant is also named after his famous son King Ludwig II’s favourite food. The Schwarzreiter, a form of char from Lake Königssee in Bavaria, was the fairy-tale king’s favourite dish.
In the past two years, too, the one-star kitchen under the direction of Maike Menzel has mainly used regional products. At 29, she is currently Germany's youngest star chef. In mid-February 2021, she took maternity leave and handed over the management of the restaurant to her current sous chef Hannes Reckziegel.
Reckziegel was born in Mindelheim and cooked in Tim Raue's restaurants in Berlin. First in the "Sra Bua" restaurant in the Hotel Adlon, later in the "Tim Raue".
"Cooking is and has always been my absolute passion! I'm really looking forward to this new task," says Reckziegel, who will continue to emphasise the highest quality with his team.
The Michelin Guide also awarded one star to head chef Christian Schlagerl and his vegetarian restaurant Tian at the Viktualienmarkt food market again in 2020. Tian can be proud of this recognition, as the Michelin Guide rarely used to award stars for meat-free cuisine. Tian has received an impressive 16 toques from Gault-Millau. The Munich restaurant is an offshoot of Tian in Vienna, which is run by culinary director Paul Ivic. Christian Schlagerl had already gained experience in important positions on Bavaria’s gourmet scene. He explains the key to his success in the local Abendzeitung newspaper: “We put everything into combining extraordinary cuisine with passionate experimentation. We achieve this by drawing on distinctive flavours and valuable nutrients from a variety of rare and almost forgotten fruits, vegetables and grains.“
The Gabelspiel restaurant in Giesing with its owner and head chef Florian Berger has also retained its Michelin star. He creates sophisticated dishes inspired by French cuisine, and his wife Sabrina is the hostess. Gabelspiel was awarded 14 toques by Gault-Millau. Florian and Sabrina Berger express the joy of their culinary experiments on the restaurant’s website.
“We love all foods sold around the world and try to live a healthy and, above all, happy life by using these foods in a balanced way.“
A new addition to the ranks of one-star restaurants is Mural in the Museum of Urban and Contemporary Art (MUCA) with its young chefs Joshua Leise (24) and Johannes Maria Kneip (25). Gault-Millau awarded the two young stars 15 toques. The hip restaurant in the heart of Munich’s old town offers a day bar with a relaxed atmosphere. In the evening, the fine dining concept impresses guests with its sophisticated and creative menus. The team attaches particular value to getting the most out of simple, carefully selected regional ingredients. The young chefs are always on the lookout for the best seasonal products.
Joshua Leise and Johannes Maria Kneip: “We primarily work with small regional producers and particularly value their skill and their focus on sustainability and the co nservation of resources. The same applies to the selection of our wines and winegrowers.“
Jürgen Wolfsgruber was also able to earn his first Michelin star for the Sparkling Bistro as well as 14 toques. The restaurant with premises in the Amalienpassage in the heart of the Maxvorstadt district focuses on the interplay of sustainably produced natural products and a first-class culinary skill. Honest food with character is at the centre of the Sparkling Bistro’s cuisine.
For "All eyes on culture 2018" we asked Maike Menzel to give us an interview. Where and what she likes to eat in Munich and how she invents new recipes as a top chef, Maike Menzel reveals here.