Nils-Levent Grün – Head Chef at Jumeirah in Frankfurt. Read all about it.

You are currently working as the Head Chef at Jumeirah in Frankfurt,with a lot of accomplishments behind you. How did this journey start for you and what drove you to become a Chef?

I knew pretty early on I wanted to be a Chef. After my practicum in the 8th class, I made the decision to go down that path. I was also heavily influenced to cook by my mother and grandmother. They were both fantastic, coupled their own garden and my grandpas lambs, we always had the best foods at home.

You completed your apprenticeship at the Grüning Chalet Hotel, Bad Bevenson. What are your most important memories from that time that still influence you today?

The apprenticeship at the Grünings Chalet Hotel began in 2005 and after 4 months I switched to the Maritim Airport Hotel. There I worked with my mentor Markus Kirchner and he trained me in a great many things. At the end I was able to take part in the Youth Championships and in Niedersachsen the German Championship on the Petersberg.

In 2009 you worked as a Commis de Cuisine/ Entremetier in the Gourmet Restaurant Haerlin at the Four Seasons, Hamburg. How was that experience for you as a Chef in Star Gastronomie? What was your biggest learning experience?

The Haerlin was my first job in Star-level gastronomie. In a short time I learned the ins-and-outs and precision of a star restaurant.

In 2008 you won first place in the Niedersachsen Youth Championships. What was your winning dish?

My menu was composed of Salmon 4-ways, Wild Garlic soup (Bärlauch soup), smoked duck and a warm chocolate cake with Tonka Bean Ice-cream.

How would you describe your current cooking style?

Our style is clear and simple: Classic dishes with a new touch.

At the moment you are working as Head Chef at Jumeirah in Frankfurt. What is the culinary direction like over there?

We are an Arabic company with roots from Dubai, so you can always find Arabic dishes on the menu. As with most Hotels we also have the classics like a Burger or a Club Sandwich.

Your dishes in “Max on One Grillroom” are base on classic dishes with a new flare. Could you give us a couple of examples?

We’ve had dishes such as: Pastrami Sandwich, American BBQ and Shrimp Cocktail on the menu where we added our own spin.

With your innovative menu you work a lot with “new flavors”. Could you also give us an example of that?

We strive to surprise the guests by thinking classic but implementing new flavors.

With SALZGARTEN, the finest salts from Spain meet the best from the Taunus. What is your part in this collaboration?

I am a Salt connoisseur and Brand Ambassador of SALZGARTEN. I am working together with Inke Werner in the creative process as well as representation of the brand.

“Go for it” is your cooking motto: Do you have a Menu which best reflects this motto?

“Go for it” is easily translated: “Tue es!” (Do it! In German). We have defined parameters for the motto in order to facilitate the creative process and not go off on any tangents. For me, “Go for it” is pretty much and attitude for life that I apply on a daily basis.

Working closely with purveyors is becoming increasingly important to Chefs. How is your relationship to the purveyors of your foods?

As the Head Chef of a large hotel it’s unfortunately not possible to go to the Markets everyday anymore. Nevertheless, I try to have a regular dialogue with my food producers and purveyors. At the moment we’ve pickled 30 kilograms of green strawberries in a pepper vinegar for the winter.

Could you share with us some of your special recipes or creations?

AN HOMAGE TO THE WALDORF ASTORIA IN NYC

BLACK SPRING CHICKEN “WALDORF SALAD”

CELERY ROOT | WALNUTS | TRUFFLE

Preparation

Black Spring Chicken

Rinse the Black Spring Chicken (Cornish Game Hen as substitute) and remove the hanging rump. Lightly use your fingers to loosen the skin from the meat in order to place pieces of butter underneath the skin.

Rub the chicken with walnut oil and season well on all sides. Preheat an oven at 120°C and roast the chicken on an oven rack for around 1.5 hours. Remove the chicken and preheat the oven again at 240°C. Roast the chicken again for around 30 minutes. Let the chicken rest for a bit and then carve. Keep the breast warm and tear or slice the leg meat for a small ragout. Sautee small diced apple with the ragout pieces, deglaze with the chicken jus and keep warm.

Roasted Celery Root

Wash a whole celery root and wrap in aluminum foil. Roast in the oven according to size and let cool in the foil. Cut 4 slices approximately 1 centimeter thick, season and sear in a pan. For the puree, put the remaining celery root in a food processor and season with stock and nut butter to taste. Finally, refine it with a bit of lemon juice.

Caramelised Walnuts

On high heat boil together sugar and water. When it becomes a light golden brown color add the walnuts. Lower the heat a little. Constantly stir the walnuts in the caramel. Transfer the walnuts and caramel onto a sheet of baking paper. The walnuts should not be in one klump but somewhat separated.

Serving

Serve the chicken ragout in a bowl topped with some Celery root puree and walnut brittle. Serve the chicken breast sliced as well as the celery root slices on a entree plate. Place a couple of dollops of puree and some sauce to refine the plate. Finely grate the truffle over the dish.

Ingredients

Serves 4

  • 2 Ea. Black Spring Chickens
  • 50 g Butter
  • 10 ml Walnut oil
  • Chorizo salt (Salzgarten) Pepper
  • 1 Ea. Celery Root
  • 1 Tbsp Lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp Nutt butter
  • 3 Tbsp Chicken Jus
  • Salt, pepper and nutmeg
  • 50 g Walnuts
  • 30 g Sugar
  • 30 ml Water
  • 40 g Summer Truffel

PINA COLADA

ORIGINAL BEANS „BENI HARVEST“

PINEAPPLE | COCONUT | VANILLA

Preparation

Chocolate Créme

Bring to a scald milk, cream, sugar and vanilla. Off the heat add the egg yolks and slowly bring back up to temperature until it thickens slightly.

Add the softened gelatin, and pour the liquid over the chocolate stirring it into a single mass. Fill silicon forms with the mass and freeze. Remove from the forms and let rest on the plates for 20 minutes.

Grilled Pineapple

Remove the skin from the pineapple and cut into 1 cm thick slices. Core the slices and marinate them in a bit of sesame oil. Grill the slices (Grill or Grill pan) and set aside.

Coconut Tapioca

Simmer the Tapioca in a good amount of water for 12 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove the water using a sieve and add cold coconut milk, adding Batida de Coco to taste.

Ingredients

Serves 4

  • 150 ml Cream
  • 150 ml Milk 3,5 %
  • 60 g Egg Yolks
  • 30 g Sugar
  • 1Ea. Leaf Gelatin
  • 1 Pinch Vanilla bean
  • 300 g Original Beans „Beni Harvest“

Nils-Levent Grün, thank you for your time!