German chef Rainer Sarrazin has recently been named Best European Chef for 2019, following a stellar performance in the European Chef’s Cup, the prestigious international competition held each year by Aramark. The competition saw seven professional chefs from across Europe to go head to head in London in an intense two-day competition. Discover Germany spoke to the talented chef to find out more.
TEXT: NANE STEINHOFF
Have you always wanted to become a chef? Did you ever have any other dream jobs?
R. Sarrazin: To be honest, as a kid, I wanted to become a stuntman like Lee Mayors in the famous TV series Fall Guy. But almost at the same time, I inherited the love for cooking from my mother and grandmother. When I had to decide which profession I actually would like to learn at the age of 15, the job as a chef turned out to be easier to handle for me than becoming a stuntman.
What’s the beautiful thing about cooking and creating new, interesting dishes?
R. Sarrazin: By cooking, I have the opportunity to make my ideas real, tangible and experienceable. In addition, I like to make people happy, and sometimes I succeed in this idea with my dishes too!
Tell me more about your professional background, and where do you cook at the moment?
R. Sarrazin: I am proud to say that so far I have been able to get to know many different parts of the gastronomy sector and I’ve been able to work with many great chefs too. From the classic grand hotel, cruise ship, design hotel, Michelin star-rated restaurants and event catering to public catering businesses – I’ve done it all. In my current job, I don´t get the chance to work in the kitchen every day, as I’m working as the unit manager for the catering of Aramark at Volkswagen in Saxony, Germany.
What defines your cooking style? How would you describe it?
R. Sarrazin: Every dish I serve should have an idea and an authentic character behind it that the customer can understand. And fun is also important – both for the chef and for the guest while choosing and eating.
How important is sustainability to you?
R. Sarrazin: Very important. My wonderful daughter Frida was born two years ago. Since then, the topic has gained a lot of importance for me. Even if the task seems great, we must now begin to radically change our attitude towards sustainability. Mahatma Gandhi said: “You may never know what results come of your action, but if you do nothing there will be no result”.
You just won the European Chef’s Cup in London – how was the experience for you?
R. Sarrazin: Firstly, it was great to meet the other participants, as people of different origins, personal backgrounds and lifestyles. Secondly, it was, of course, very exciting to compete with many great chefs.
Why do you think your chosen dish won? What made it special?
R. Sarrazin: Good time management, experience, some luck and a feeling for the expectations of the jury. Nothing the other chefs don’t have, but I had a little more of it that day.
You have achieved quite a lot in your lifetime already. What other wishes and dreams do you still have?
R. Sarrazin: I wish to be a reliable husband for my wife, a loving father for my daughter, an understanding colleague for my employees and a good host for my guests.
Do you have any tips for youngsters that might want to become chefs? What should they look out for to be successful?
R. Sarrazin: No matter how many shallots are still to peel, how dirty the pots are that you need to clean, how short the night was or what else you have to endure – just keep going! Because it is worth it.
About the European Chef’s Cup
Testing their creativity and practical talent, each of the seven finalists were asked to create a three-course menu from a pre-selected mystery basket during the European Chef’s Cup. All of the competing chefs then had four hours to complete and present their dishes. After that, each dish was judged against strict criteria of taste, presentation and originality.