Berlin Partner awards the crème de la crème of cooking, scene and hospitality

This year, Berlin Partner presents its jubilee award winners and looks back on 20 years of Berlin Masterchefs: the 2016 Berlin Masterchefs were announced today at a press conference. The independent, 15-member jury – consisting of Berlin's leading food journalists and connoisseurs – voted for the winners in six categories. The annual awards highlight the huge – and growing – number of cooking talents in the capital. The restaurant scene in Berlin today has international appeal, and is an important economic factor for the city. Berlin Partner has been celebrating this dynamic development with the Berlin Masterchefs award for 20 years.

The 2016 Berlin Masterchef is Markus Semmler from the restaurant Markus Semmler. The jury said, “The development is spectacular – from young chef in Potsdam to the Cooking Olympics. Experience is a pot of gold that one has to collect with care, and this is exactly what our 2016 Berlin Masterchef has done perfectly. His compositions are modern, original, light – every dish fireworks for the palate. How does he cook? He is an Escoffier disciple who loves the fundaments of classic French cuisine, working with lots of cream and butter. The base ingredients are always top notch, fresh and from local suppliers wherever possible. He also creates room for his own ideas: he boldly combines foie gras with rhubarb; the venison is served with black nuts. Showy effects and fancy touches are dispensed with.

Daniel Schmidthaler, owner and chef at the restaurant Alte Schule Fürstenhagen is our first 2016 Regional Masterchef. The jury explained its decision: “Very well deserved! Schmidthaler, originally from Austria, has invested patient work to make the restaurant in the Feldberg Lakes a gourmet address known far beyond Mecklenburg. His intensive cooperation with farmers, breeders and local fishermen gives him access to rare products, which he refines in a modern, never overloaded style with light, aromatic dishes. Nothing seems dogmatic: every dish surprises. One must not forget his wife, Nicole, who manages the family atmosphere in the dining room, where the cuisine can really shine.

The 2016 Newcomer of the Year title goes to Max Strohe from Tulus Lotrek. The jury explained its decision: “Macarone with an apple and dill filling, the ‘Kikok-au-vin’ with sake, sweet potato and soft purple curry – nothing in the wonderful, slightly quirky restaurant is as it first appears. The name – pay attention to the spelling! – says it all. The lively fusion of art, cuisine and philosophy. Even French cuisine is only apparent here, hinted at by certain elements. Whatever our Newcomer of the Year 2016 serves is independent, new and modern, lightweight and rich in originality. Intense aromas and felicitous combinations of textures and consistencies are fun and addictive for the palate. Diners return home just as cheerful as the team”.

In the 2016 Berlin Hospitality category, the jury chose Viktoria Kniely from the restaurant Herz & Niere. The jury said: “natural, warm, radiant and with the focus fully where it counts, with the guest and with whatever comes out of the kitchen in this wonderfully unique restaurant”. Every part of the animal is used here, and everything green has been grown and harvested in house. The calf brain is served with salad with carrot greens, the bulls’ testicles with choy. “I picked up a love of hospitality with the milk bottle – as well as respect for what nature provides,” she said. Our 2016 Berlin hostess was raised on a farm in Southeastern Styria with wine and Buschenschank culture (a traditional, local outlet for home-made foods and wine). In Berlin, she worked at Hugo's in the InterConti before her calling to Herz & Niere, where she certainly works with heart and soul.

The 2016 Berlin Scene Restaurant is Rosa Lisbert. The jury explained: “Wilhelminian-frills, cast-iron beams over colorful life – the Berlin food scene has discovered the city’s most beautiful historic market hall, the Arminiusmarkthalle in Moabit”. The star location on-site is the centrally located Rosa Lisbert, our Berlin Scene Restaurant in 2016. The concept is simple, bold and successful: hosts Lisa Meyer and Robert Havemann specialise in a single culinary dish, which they serve to perfection: Alsatian tarte flambe baked on beechwood – fragrant, crisp, yet tender and juicy, topped perhaps with eel and duck liver or with crayfish and Riesling grapes. The Alsace wines are a cheerful complement.

Boris Radczun & Stephan Landwehr were heralded as the 2016 Gastronomic Innovators by the jury. One is a former bouncer, the other a former art dealer. It was clear to both that the new Berlin was also ready for something new. They teamed up exactly ten years ago, opening their Grill Royal shortly after. The restaurant made them pioneers and innovators of the dining scene in a flash, and – we feel entitled to say – culinary icons of the capital, true innovators indeed. What followed was metropolitan, flexible, visionary – like the changing city and world itself: the “Pauly-Star” with top chef Arne Anker, Nordic cuisine in “dóttir”, lively art de vivre in the new “Le Petit Royal”. They have also purchased the “Café Einstein Unter den Linden", with their first hotel opening just behind it – the duo unquestionably continues to set standards.

Dr. Stefan Elfenbein, chairman of the Berlin Masterchef jury:
“20 years of masterchefs, 20 years of enthralled inspecting dishes, pots and pans. What is special about this year’s Jubilee winners? Amazingly, for the first time, not one of the award winners comes from one of the city’s major hotel circuits: two are from the very same booming Kreuzberg district, and even Moabit plays a driving, pioneering role – both unthinkable 10 or even 5 years ago! Unthinkable too, even for the jury, was the colorful diversity of cuisines currently being cooked up. There is consciously un-French-creative, new Berlin–Israeli, and new-classic Korean ... Our 20-year anniversary winners have demonstrated independence, boldness, a desire to create, tremendous perseverance and enormous skill – a testimony of culinary Berlin in 2016. We salute them! We are also pleased to welcome our new jury member Reiner Veit, the voice of cult rbb/Inforadio bon viveur programme Aufgegabelt.

“I am delighted to announce the 20th anniversary winners today: the capital has evolved into a gourmet metropolis in recent years. The masterchefs have certainly contributed to establishing Berlin as a place for haute cuisine and new trends – both nationally and internationally. The city’s various neighborhoods offer incredible culinary diversity. With our anniversary, we want to highlight this diversity and show how the art of cooking varies across the districts and neighborhoods to enrich the city,” said Andrea Joras, Managing Director of Berlin Partner.

The criteria for selection by the jury of independent experts, in addition to culinary skills, include the originality of the creations, the presentation of the food, the service and ambience. The official ceremony of this year's winners and handing over of the coveted awards (hand-painted plates from the Royal Porcelain Manufactory in Berlin and personalised magnum bottles of Vranken Pommery Brut Royal) will be held at a special anniversary event on October 8 at the Kraftwerk Berlin.


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For more information about the Berlin Masterchefs project.

The Berlin Masterchefs
Annually since 1997, Berlin Partner has awarded the best chefs in the Berlin-Brandenburg capital region. By honoring the Berlin masterchefs, Berlin Partner profiles the sophisticated restaurant culture and the diversity of the gastronomy scene in the capital — important economic factors and an advertisement for the city. To date, 116 chefs and restaurateurs have been awarded in the various categories of the Berlin Masterchefs awards. Former winners include Kolja Kleeberg, Tim Raue and Ralf Zacherl. The ceremony will take place on October 8, 2016 during a festive gala dinner in the Kraftwerk Berlin.