Story and photos by Dr. Michael Lim The Travelling GourmetTM
The irrepressible and inspiring Travelling GourmetTM goes to Dolce Vita restaurant in the Mandarin Oriental Singapore to interview…
MICHELIN Star Chef Thomas Buehner…who was in sunny Singapore for the World Gourmet Summit 2014. Chef Tomas is from Germany so I got to practice my German too. Ich moechte immer mein Deutsch verbessen werden. Laid back and unassuming Chef Thomas got his 3rd Michelin star in November 2011. I was impresed by his down to earth attitude. Chef Thomas is what Germans call ,bodenstaendig’ which means ‘down to earth and grounded’.
The Travelling Gourmet (TTG): How did you become a Chef?
Chef Thomas: After I left school, I went for an Aptitude Test at the Job Center. It was a six hour test! The results suggested that I was best suited to being a cook, a baker or a farmer. I decided to be a cook…I told my parents, ” If I’m going to be a cook then I’m going to be a good one!” You must have your goal and you must follow your passion. To be a cook means long working days and hard work.
TTG: What are your signature dishes in “La Vie”, your restaurant in Osnabruck?
Chef Thomas: Potato Espuma with Curried Pumpkin Ice Cream and Roebuck in a stock of Asian Flavours. Lamb from Head to Tail…the sweetbread, neck, shoulder, liver, lamb rack, the tail. Every part is used. You can even cook ‘politically correct’ Foie Gras now. We have hunting season in Germany and I like to cook game.
TTG: What is your culinary style?
Chef Thomas: It is a mixture…styles of all the world…in the avant garde style.
TTG: What wines do you personally like?
Chef Thomas: I like a fatty white Burgundy. Ein Wein in ein Glas…( In English it means wine in a glass) and just sitting on the terrace alfresco…I have a very good Sommelier and over 1000 wines in my restaurant. He chuckled and said, “As long as the wine is good, I’ll drink it!
TTG: What was your worst dining experience?
Chef Thomas: It was in New York, celebrating my 5oth Geburtstag (Birthday) in a very famous restaurant…and everything was bad! From the service to the food…Everything!
TTG: What are your favourite restaurants?
Chef Thomas: There are so many good restaurants. I like “Jean-Georges” in New York.
TTG: Do you cook healthy food in your restaurant?
Chef Thomas: We have a healthy kitchen. We serve fresh fish for example…our dishes… always accompanied by vegetables, we use butter, no trans-fats. I had an intern in my kitchen, She would trim off ALL the fat form the meat and bacon and then have two helpings of Moulleaux au Chocolat! You know how much fat is in a Moulleaux au Chocolat! He laughed shaking his head and added, ‘Youth eating ‘fast food’ is a giant problem! They eat NO vegetables!’
TTG: Who are your heroes in the culinary world?
Chef Thomas: My mentor Chef Harald Wohlfahrt of the Schwarzwaldstube. Ferran Adria with his Molecular Gastronomy and Deconstruction. I don’t do Molecular in my restaurant. In Germany people are scared of all the powders and chemicals used in Molecular Gastronomy.
TTG: Who are the celebrities you have cooked for?
Chef Thomas: Well, there’s Tony Blair, the British Prime Minister. His staff told me Tony Blair can only eat one dish and has only 15 minutes! He was in and out of my restaurant in a flash! When I cooked for the Turkish State President they had three Hubschrauber (helicopters) circling overhead! If you don’t want to attract attention, why do you have so many armed bodyguards and so on? Celebrities are very disruptive and the celebrities are always nicer than their staff. Their staff are usually terrible!
Chef Thomas looked me in the eye with a wry smile and said sincerely, “To tell you the truth, Michael, it is much more meaningful for me when people come to my restaurant and celebrate their Anniversary and Birthday happily with a nice dinner. More memorable!”
I told him, “Ganz genau, einverstanden!” (exactly correct, I agree)
The delightful dishes Chef Thomas served in Dolce Vita included Foie Gras, Coca Cola with Lemon Granitee and Rocket, Langoustine with crispy Kroepoek Crust, luscious Lobster, Beetroot and Hazelnut and Strawberry and Cucumber with Hendrick’s Gin Gelee and Basil Meringue. I like to dine at Dolce Vita, not least because of the splendid view of the pool and the Marina Bay skyline. Good food, good wines, good ambience, good company…what more can the discerning gourmet ask for? 🙂
Magnificent Mandarin Oriental Singapore is one of Asia’s finest 5 Star hotels
Dolce Vita Restaurant
Mandarin Oriental Singapore
5 Raffles Avenue
Tel: 65 6338 0066
La Vie Restaurant
49074 Osnabrück in Germany
Tel:+49 5 41 33 11 50