Sybille Schönberger’s passion for flavour, pleasure and home.

Award-winning TV chef Sybille Schönberger plans to open a gourmet restaurant in Frankfurt. It is going to be a mix of high-end gastronomy and what she describes as “Sehnsuchtsort” (literally a “place of longing”). There is no adequate English translation of this German word that describes a passion for a particular place and the way it touches a person’s soul. For Schönberger it is important not only to give a sense of “cooking as art form” but also to provide a distinct feel of home. “Eating is more than just satisfying your appetite”, is her philosophy. She came to Ambiente to see how she could realise her concept with innovative tableware and kitchen utensils. On her tour of the show, she was particularly attracted by stylish stemless wine glasses.

“She cooks with a very feminine style, gentle aromas and soft contrasts … there is no loud fanfare”, is how Gault Millau describes Sybille Schönberger. The 38-year-old already has an impressive career behind her. In 2004, she was Germany’s youngest
star chef at the Maintal-based Restaurant Hessler. Subsequently she has been a freelance event and TV chef, successful author (“Lust for Life – Cooking against Cancer”) and has also found time to bring her two young sons into the world. Together with husband Daniel Schönberger – also a chef with star prospects – she plans to open a restaurant in Frankfurt.  During a stroll around Ambiente she explained to us how she intends to combine her style with functionality, and also to use crockery she has created herself.

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“How many plates does a restaurant need? It’s quite simple. One guest, six courses. Including the amuse-bouche that makes seven plates. It adds up to a lot”, says Sybille Schönberger. Although personally she likes striking, colourful designs, “on the table I want natural tones. Plates and bowls can have an imperfect appearance because human beings, too, are by no means perfect.” At Ambiente 2015 there is no problem finding the colours of nature. It’s an extremely popular trend this year. “I also like to have gold cutlery, provided it harmonises with the rest of the design”, she says. In the restaurant she wants predominantly individual tableware and plans to make some of it herself. “My hobby is pottery”, says the unpretentious chef. Fascinated, she stops at a manufacturer’s stand to examine the latest new idea: non-slip “silent porcelain”. A silicone base on the porcelain plate protects sensitive surfaces. “The plates are certainly very quiet when you stack them”, says a surprised Sybille Schönberger. The only downside for her: “I don’t like plastic.” More in keeping with her concept for the restaurant are red and white stemless wine glasses – an innovation from the USA that is currently taking firm hold in fine dining circles. “They remind me of classic wine goblets. I like that.”

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“Doesn’t everyone have this passion for flavour, pleasure and home?” she asks. “At home I try to create this feeling together with family and friends at our long dining table with beautiful table settings, attractive bowls and traditional decorated pottery.  The pleasant aromas wafting from the stove also play their part and are a reminder of earlier times and of home.” Durable kitchen appliances also form part of Schönberger’s inner homeland. We had now come across products made from her favourite material: cast iron! “We have a wonderful frying pan at home, which feels as though it’s a hundred years old. If you look after a cast iron pan properly, it’s practically unbreakable. You can pass it down the generations. I still have a cast iron roasting pan from my grannie. It works fine.” So, what does Schönberger’s kitchen look like? “Ours is ten years old, from a Swedish furniture store, and it’s been moved several times. It comes as a surprise to many people. But if you know how to cook, you can do it anywhere. I won a German championship using just two simple hobs and I’ve even baked the most fabulous eggs out in the forest”, she says and continues with a twinkle in her eye: “To be honest, though, I wouldn’t be disappointed if my husband bought me a Molteni kitchen – it’s the Rolls Royce of kitchens.”

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Back now to the must-haves for Schönberger’s own restaurant. “In the gourmet Restaurant Hessler we had a KitchenAid food processor that gave excellent service. It takes up so little space and looks stylish, too. I’ve also been using their waffle irons at home for years”, she says while checking out the latest model from the USA. Then we come to knives, definitely her most important tool. “Knives will also last for ever if they are well cared for. The brand I have at home is Wüsthof. You should never put them in the dishwasher, although a good knife should be able to withstand such treatment.” Does Schönberger hide her ultra-sharp knives from her children? “We have explained the dangers to them. Both boys also have their own penknives, without sharp points of course.” She knows exactly what children like to eat. She has created colourful children’s menus for Lufthansa, which are now available on flights and include “propeller rolls and rocket sausages”. Another successful departure for the all-rounder who normally likes things to be down-to-earth and natural. “I’m currently processing the many impressions I’ve gained at Ambiente. The restaurant will show the results”, she says in parting.

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