A guide to Germany's three starred chefs: Harald Wohlfahrt

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 4th November 2014

Harald Wohlfahrt became head chef at the Schwarzwaldstube in 1980 and hasn’t left since holding three Michelin stars since 1992.

Harald Wohlfahrt was born in Loffenau close to Baden-Baden in the south west of Germany in 1955. His grandparents lived on a farm, which forged his connection to nature and regional quality produce.

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When did Harald Wohlfahrt start cooking?

He did his apprenticeship at Mönchs Waldhotel in Dobel and then went to work in the renowned Stahlbad in Baden-Baden. After that he joined Eckart Witzigmann’s Tantris Restaurant and then started as sous chef at the Schwarzwaldstube under Wolfgang Staudenmaier in 1978.

In 1980, he became head chef at the Schwarzwaldstube and hasn’t left ever since. The restaurant gave him the opportunity and responsibility to create a menu in which he could put in all his creativity and skill.

His originality and precision evolved over the many years he cooked in the Black Forest and he is famous now for his “fantastic consciousness of quality”, as the Gault & Millau said. Harald makes sure he only uses the best produce and prefers to use local ingredients if possible. In 1991, he was recognised as Chef of the Year by Gault & Millau and since 1992 he has held three Michelin stars.

Cooking style

His inventiveness, technical precision and love for special ingredients made him win the highest accolades and rank him as one of Germany’s best chefs. Harald isn’t one to brag about his achievements. He never appears on TV or advertisement. He says, “I’m standing for exclusivity and don’t need to see my face on a chocolate box.”

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What he aims for is surpassing his guest’s expectations every day: “First and foremost, I cook for my guests.” His menus change constantly according to seasons. Every two months, he changes the à la carte menu and every two weeks, the tasting menus. Over more than 20 years, he has developed new creations, which are either traditional or cosmopolitan-themed.

Through Harald’s pursuit of perfection, his dishes become culinary surprises. His cuisine is delicate, intense and full-flavoured. The Schwarzwaldstube also has an incredibly big selection of fine wines: 36,000 wines are stored in the wine cellar, which are under the care of Sommelier Stèphane Gass.

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Sharing knowledge with his protégés  

The father of three likes to share his knowledge with young chefs in his kitchen. He places his trust in the new cooks, integrates them in the team and gives them time to get to know the kitchen. “The more trust you show towards the cooks, the more proficiency comes back at some point,” he says.

Several chefs who now own multiple Michelin stars have gone through his kitchen, such as Klaus Erfort, Kevin Fehling and Thomas Bühner. In total, his protégés have earned 55 Michelin stars! Harald’s personal role model is French chef Paul Bocuse.

At 87, Bocuse is still in his restaurant every day. Harald comments, “That is an enormous achievement and very admirable.” At home, Harald never cooks: “I can survive off the things I have to try every day in the Schwarzwaldstube. If I ate the actual dishes as well, I could never hold my weight.”  

By Vera Kleinken 

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 4th November 2014

A guide to Germany's three starred chefs: Harald Wohlfahrt