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How the Suhring twins plate Germany for the world

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The Suhring brothers share their journey of presenting traditional German fare with a modern twist

The Suhring brothers share their journey of presenting traditional German fare with a modern twist

“A lot of emotion goes into preparing a dish from your childhood — memories of past mealtimes and the joy of sharing it with the people you are cooking for,” says Thomas one of the Suhrings, founders of Suhring, a two-star Michelin restaurant in Thailand. “It is an experience in itself. Plating that same dish for someone who has never tasted it before, only adds to the experience.”

Thomas and his twin brother Mathias were in Bengaluru recently, hosted by Masters of Marriott Bonvoy and Culinary Culture at the Ritz-Carlton Bangalore, to present their take on traditional German fare.

Sturgeon & Buttermilk by Suhring chefs Thomas and Mathias
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Simplicity, childhood memories and family recipes are how the Suhrings wanted to represent the fare from their homeland. “There is an amazing difference when you cook with passion. We’ve worked in Italy and Holland, we mastered French cuisine — but there was never any sentiment because we did not grow up with it. We were cooking what we had learned. But It is different with German cuisine, there’s so much spirit,” says Thomas.

“Most people outside Germany and even some people in Germany have this notion that our food is mainly sausages, pork knuckles potatoes — heavy food and hearty portions. But there’s so much more to it,” he says.

The twins grew up on simple fare in Berlin — bread, cold cuts, currywurst and the like. “For us, childhood memories of food are not a special dish. Rather, it is about sitting together as a family at the table; sharing not just food, but also our lives.”

Black forest, oma’s ruhrkuchen & pistachio, bayrisch crème & strawberry by Suhring chefs Thomas and Mathias

Black forest, oma’s ruhrkuchen & pistachio, bayrisch crème & strawberry by Suhring chefs Thomas and Mathias
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

They candidly admit that becoming chefs were not part of their plans growing up. “We were just kids in high school with no thought for the future. Back then becoming a chef was not as celebrated a career choice as it is today,” says Thomas.

“Our grandma had a farm where we would spend our holidays and we helped with the harvest and other chores as well as in the preparation of food. It was our mother who nudged us in this direction, saying, ‘You’ve got the feel of handling food and ingredients, why not make a career of it?’”

After training with local chefs, they learnt the ropes and the discipline, gradually moving out of Germany to work in Italy, Holland and other parts of Europe. After cooking their way under the tutelage of three Michelin star chefs — Sven Elverfeld, Jonnie Boer and Heinz Beck — the twins relocated to Thailand in 2008 and opened Suhring, which is couched in a living space. “It was always our dream to open our own restaurant and offer our guests German food, with a sophisticated, modern twist.”

Hühnchensalat by Suhring chefs Thomas and Mathias

Hühnchensalat by Suhring chefs Thomas and Mathias
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

“It was interesting for us to to study German cuisine from different regions and interpret it for customers in our own way,” says Mathias.

“There is an unbelievable sense of wonder when you try something from a recipe book or culinary class and it brings back memories of childhood. We felt that way when we first made spatzle, a hand-cut, soft egg noodle dish from South West Germany. We made the dough, added the pasta to the water, cooked it with mushrooms and cheese. And after we tasted it, it put a huge smile on our face. It tasted amazing and was so simple to make!”

“There is nothing complicated about it — it is comfort food, it is something anyone will understand. And it is the one dish that has been on our menu since the first day we opened our restaurant,” adds Thomas.

Oma’s banana split and whipped vanilla by the Suhring chefs Thomas and Mathias

Oma’s banana split and whipped vanilla by the Suhring chefs Thomas and Mathias
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Another childhood reinvention by the twins is of the hanuta, a typical breakfast waffle with chocolate filling. Thomas says they have modified it to a waffle with a filling of duck liver, served with a shot of apricot vinegar, and it has become one of their most sought after dishes.

They talk about how they present a dish from the north of Germany, called labskaus. “Sailors used to carry it across the sea. It was a hash of salted beef, eggs, herrings, potatoes, beetroot… pretty much everything and it was preserved for long voyages. Though it does not look too appetising, that region became famous for that dish.”

The twins’ version of the dish is a pastry pocket stuffed with the contents of labskaus, topped off with caviar. “We have kept the portion size small — you just enjoy about three or four bites of beautiful, crispy saltiness,” says Thomas.

Duck smoked in hay by Suhring chefs Thomas and Mathias

Duck smoked in hay by Suhring chefs Thomas and Mathias
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

“Globalisation is important but people should stick to their roots and present their heritage. It is our job to preserve it for the next generation,” says Thomas.

During their stay, the twins sampled local fare at the Bengaluru Oota Company. Thomas says, “Eating a whole meal with our fingers off a banana leaf was a unique experience. Also, learning about the science behind how the meal should be eaten was interesting.”

“We tried dosa, vada, chutney and sambar; we had everything on the menu. It was an experience,” adds Mathias, thrilled with the novelty of taking a token at Vidyarthi Bhavan.

Suhring twins Thomas and Mathias

Suhring twins Thomas and Mathias
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement



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