For over 25 years, Thomas Bühner has been at the top of the league of German chefs. Born in the year 1962 in Riesenbeck as the son of a housewife and a commercial clerk, he was first exposed to catering at his grandparent’s establishment. Here, guests were always greeted with a slice of fresh pain gris with butter and Westphalian ham and the clattering in the kitchen and the hubbub from the pub acted as a backdrop at bedtime, late in the evening. But all the same, young Thomas Bühner had no clear idea for a long time which career to choose once he left school. Whilst his twin brother turned to carpentry, an aptitude test at the job centre came up with concrete ideas: he was facing a choice of becoming a chef, a baker or a farmer. Bühner decided to become a chef and even back then, he announced to his parents: “So if I’m going to be a chef, then at least I want to be a good one” – and he has kept his word to this day.
Bühner trained at Schweizer Haus in Paderborn. This was followed by stints with Günter Scherrer at the Hilton in Düsseldorf, Landhaus Scherrer in Hamburg, Restaurant Grand Cru in Lippstadt and Restaurant Jörg Müller in Westerland in Sylt. In 1989, Bühner became Harald Wohlfahrt‘s chef de partie at the Schwarzwaldstube in Baiersbronn. This was one of the most important stages of his career, after all, he was fascinated by Wohlfahrt’s discipline and consistency – indispensable assets in his vocation – and, above all, the down-to-earthness and benevolence the patron showed his employees day in, day out. The ideal prerequisites for taking on the position of Head Chef at the restaurant La Table in Dortmund in 1991. Five years later, he was awarded his first Michelin star, followed by a second one in 1998. Gault Millau voted Bühner “Newcomer of the Year” in 2001 and ‘Chef of the Year’ just five years later.
Together with restaurant manager Thayarni Kanagaratnam, Thomas Bühner has been running the restaurant la vie in Osnabrück since April 2006. Since 2009, Thomas Bühner has been a ‘Grand Chef’ with Relais & Chateaux. In addition, la vie has been a member of ‘Les Grandes Tables du Monde’ since early 2010. The restaurant has been awarded 19 Gault Millau points and three Michelin stars, as well as top grades in all other German restaurant guides.
Which is your favourite ingredient?
My favourite ingredients are love and passion.
What is your advice to aspiring chefs?
My advice to aspiring chefs is to create a fantastic team, give due credit to the service team and most important don’t forget to have fun at work; don’t forget that you cook for your guests.
What’s your comfort food and which is your favorite restaurant to dine at?
I love cheese, can’t say which is my favorite restaurant simply because there are too many- HAKU Hongkong, Ecriture Hongkong, Alchemist Kopenhagen, are some of them.
Who is your inspiration?
I am inspired by beautifully fresh products while cooking.
Which is your signature dish/dishes?
Venison in a stock of Asian flavors, parsley root muesli and potatoes foam with curry ice cream, are my signature dishes.
What is the philosophy and ethos behind the food you cook?
My philosophy is to bring people together, at a table, make them happy with the food I present so that they spend time together while eating my delicious food.
Which is the dish you’ve created that you are most proud of and why?
Liquid Venison is a dish I am most proud of. Because normally most of the sauces change the taste of meat and we have discovered how to make a sauce that supports the taste of meat when we create this dish.
What is the one food trend you wish would go away?
I hate the concept of deliveries; people have to sit down at a table to eat in order to experience the food in all it’s glory at a restaurant.
When the lockdown is over, what is the first restaurant you’ll be
heading to and what will you order?
One the lockdown is over, the first restaurant I would like to eat at and order from is https://restaurant-kasteelheemstede.nl/ . It´s driven by a former employee named Ollie Schuilling.
What are the most important considerations when crafting your menu?
The most important considerations when crafting my menus are the ingredients and to focus on highlighting every single taste of the ingredients.
What is your favourite dish to cook at home?
Beet Root Gaspacho which is healthy food ! And this dish also allows lots of combinations.
What is your favourite dish on the menu right now?
This question is like asking a mother which child she loves more than the other, I simply cannot answer it.
What is your favourite childhood dish and why?
Pancakes with apple is my favourite childhood dish.