STUTTGART – As is well known, there is no arguing about taste, but these five creative minds are beyond any doubt: With unique ideas, tireless inventive spirit, and a good dose of passion, they enrich the gourmet state of Baden-Württemberg as culinary pioneers. From meadow fruit to star cuisine, from chocolate manufacturers to ice cream parlors, we present five masters of their trade who make life in southern Germany even tastier with their enjoyable products.
Magician with Local Fruits: Jörg Geiger
Orchards are simply part of the landscape in Baden-Württemberg. Jörg Geiger has been demonstrating what can be conjured up from the fruit for many years in his gourmet factory. There he set out to rediscover old varieties and to distil exquisite drinks from them. On the northern edge of the Swabian Jura, he himself grows meadow fruit in the old tradition and refines it into new compositions. Gourmets have long been acquainted with his single-variety sparkling wines, fruit brandies, and non-alcoholic Seccos. His secret recipe: Bring old character varieties to new blooms, leave room for acidity and tannins, and create new aromas in the process. Some of these liquid delicacies are so new that they needed their own names. For example, the non-alcoholic "PriSecco" or the bittersweet apple vermouth wine "Wehmut."
Down to Earth Top Chef: Douce Steiner
In the male-dominated world of star cuisine, female chefs are still hard to find today but they do exist. Douce Steiner in Sulzburg, Baden, for example, did her training with her father, Hans-Paul Steiner, in the local Hotel-Restaurant Hirschen. She then worked as the only woman on the kitchen team of legendary French chef Georges Blanc. This was followed by positions with Fritz Schilling and Harald Wohlfahrt. Since 2008, she has been in charge of the Hirschen. The Michelin Guide has given her two stars since 2012 – the only woman in Germany. In just four years, Douce Steiner has cooked her way to the top of German gastronomy and is still setting her own place there today. She is famous for her French-inspired cuisine that is not chi chi, remains down-to-earth, and relies on regional ingredients.
Green Fine Dining: Simon Tress
Sustainability was practically part of his cradle: Simon Tress comes from a family that for decades has consistently produced organic quality in its gastronomy and from its farms. After years of traveling through top international restaurants, Simon returned to the Swabian Alb in 2010, where he and his brothers continued to develop the family business. He landed a first coup with certified organic soups and stews, which were soon bought by many supermarkets. His current highlight is the organic fine-dining restaurant "1950," which opened in 2020 and whose name is reminiscent of his grandfather's biodynamic beginnings. With sustainable top-class cuisine, the family tradition is continued here in a radical and innovative way. All ingredients come from the surrounding area, and even the CO2 emissions of the menus are made transparent. Just one year after opening, the Michelin Guide awarded “1950” with a green star for its commitment to sustainability.
Chocolate, Newly Defined: Eberhard Schell
If you want to learn something about chocolate and its culinary possibilities, you should go to Eberhard Schell in Gundelsheim. In his pastry shop, you not only can taste the finest chocolates, but the chef is also happy to share his knowledge of the cocoa growing areas, terroir, and aromas. Schell is a chocolate pioneer in many respects. Like no one else, he stands for the culinary combination of wine and chocolate, about which he has also written a book. For almost 30 years, he has been developing pralines with wine fillings in his manufactory, and he is even in the Guinness Book of Records. His layered chocolates, which were created to accompany individual wines, are legendary. For example, Schell recommends eating a chocolate made from the Hispaniola cocoa bean, which is grown in the Dominican Republic, with the Württemberger Trollinger wine. His tip: "Wine and chocolate should meet in the mouth."
The Inventor of Spaghetti Ice Cream: Dario Fontanella
Spaghetti ice cream is a bestseller in every German ice cream parlor. Contrary to expectations, the dessert does not come from Italy like its hearty role model, but from Mannheim. However, it was an Italian, Dario Fontanella, who came up with the idea of making ice cream noodles with a Spaetzle pasta press in his father's ice cream parlor in 1969. Initially planned as a homage to the Italian flag with the varieties of pistachio, lemon, and strawberry, the idea for spaghetti ice cream made of vanilla ice cream, strawberry purée and white chocolate came about after a long trial. Even more than 50 years later, Fontanella cannot stop experimenting. In his glass ice cream factory, where you can look over the inventor's shoulder, he still develops unusual varieties from cucumber-lemon-dill to asparagus to pear-Parmigiano.