Great Ingredients, Simply Prepared
Andreas Schweiger’s path to award-winning cuisine actually began with a motorcycle, not a wooden spoon. At sixteen, he needed money for his license and his first bike, so he started working at the vineyard of a friend’s parents, who got him an internship at the Michelin-starred restaurant Fallert in Sasbachwalden.
Subsequent positions included those at Vincent Klink’s restaurant Wielandshöhe in Stuttgart, the Dorchester Hotel in London and Hotel Krone in Herxheim. In Munich, he then worked under Holger Stromberg at the Mandarin Oriental. In 2006 Schweiger and his wife Franzi took over a restaurant in the Bavarian capital. schweiger² was awarded one star in the Michelin Guide in 2009, and in the same year Schweiger’s career as a TV chef launched on the RTL2 cooking show Die Kochprofis [The Cooking Pros]. Since 2013 he has been running his own cooking school.
If there’s one thing you can say about the forty-six-year-old chef, it’s that he always goes full throttle – at his school and (as often as he can) on his motorbike. Which is why it’s fitting that Schweiger is now a brand ambassador for BMW Bank. We met him together with Felix-Hendrik Laabs, director of marketing and sales services at BMW Bank. We also did some cooking, of course.
Mr. Schweiger, what’s the hardest thing about cooking simply?
The simpler the food, the more perfect every little thing has to be. If I have twenty-five different textures of different products on a plate and one of them isn’t as successful, it’s not as noticeable. If I only have three components on the plate, they all have to be perfect. I don’t necessarily mean spaghetti with tomato sauce, but there has to be a certain level, without it necessarily having to be something out of the ordinary.
“The simpler the food, the more perfect every little thing has to be.”
The trend now is that people want to dine on simple and authentic food. The importance of classic gourmet establishments has come down a notch. Why is that?
I would say that the crème de la crème of restaurants have been trying to outdo one another in recent years. It started with the question of what comes after the third star. Then it was the best restaurant in the region, followed by the best restaurant in Germany, the best in Europe – and in recent years the best restaurant in the world. All of a sudden you had to be number one in the global rankings, and the task was to make it to that first place. Either you worked your way around the world organizing langostinos from New Zealand and the best Scottish scallops, or instead of two chocolates with coffee you served fifteen cakes. That’s where we are right now – and that’s where it’s changing. I don’t think top-of-the-line gastronomy is losing in significance; I think it’s changing. Which, of course, is related to trends. It’s like fashion: You always want to try something new, to have something new for people to look at.
“A cooking trick that everyone should know? Put a hundred percent into the product and the quality and just work with it.”
And what makes truly good food?
A good meal is also about the atmosphere. You know how it is: You discovered a great wine while on holiday in Italy, for example, and when you take it home with you it just doesn’t taste as good. And quite apart from the quality of the food or drink, whether you’re sitting on the beach or at home at the dinner table when it’s raining simply plays a big role.
But can you practice tasting and sensitize yourself?
Definitely. Of course I’ve memorized other flavors because I cook all the time and it’s my job. But if you only eat chips and pizza, you’ve learned a certain flavor and you might not respond well to the taste of fresh kohlrabi or chicory.
What role does sustainability play these days?
You can already feel the effects of climate change for yourself. I’ve been to Spain three times in the last six months, and every time I went, to ride my motorbike, for example, it rained. That’s never happened before. Now, in the face of natural disasters, you have to ask yourself what you as one small human being can do. We may not be able to make a huge difference, but at least we can change a few minor things within our own sphere of influence. We’ve been getting our vegetables from our own garden since 2006. At the beginning, people laughed at us, but now every chef has his or her own garden. Which I think is a good thing.
Is there one simple cooking trick that everyone should know?
I would say to put a hundred percent into the product and the quality and just work with it.
Supposedly you only have favorite ingredients, not a favorite dish. Is that right?
That’s right. Vanilla, lemongrass and cardamom. I like experimenting with spices.
You also have a cooking school . . .
I do. In the beginning, we gave courses in the restaurant at the request of our guests, but at some point, I thought we should also offer quality through the location. I then spent quite a bit of time looking for a nice cooking school and only found a suitable property after three years – though I didn’t look for it in a newspaper ad, someone actually approached me.
You published a vegetarian cookbook in 2014, your next cookbook focused on regional recipes, and now there’s “Schweiger’s Outdoor Cooking: The Best Recipes for Adventurers and Gourmet Food Lovers”. Why cook outdoors?
When it’s not storming or raining, we’re outdoors. We were in Alaska, for example, and part of our holiday consisted of walking along the river, collecting dry wood, processing the wood, making a fire and cooking something to eat for ourselves. And even though we don’t do that every day, outdoor cooking is a part of us.
Also in everyday life?
Yes. But we also love being outdoors and building a campfire any time we want. And in winter, when there’s enough snow, we often plough together a bunch of snow to build a bar, sit outside, cook a stew and drink mulled wine. There are actually photos of us when we were snowed in but still sitting outdoors.
“I love speed. Speed is fairly important in my job, of course, but it also involves a concentrated sequence of actions.”
Of course, we’ve got to talk about your passion for motorcycles. What do speed and performance mean to you?
I love speed, whether it’s a car or a motorbike, and I also love speed in curves. I don’t have any problem with going up to three hundred kilometers per hour sometimes either. It’s not stressful for me. Speed is fairly important in my job, of course, but it’s not just about moving fast. It also involves a concentrated sequence of actions.