The Suhring brothers talk about their modern German pop-up in Mumbai
Twins Thomas and Mathias Sühring grew up in Berlin, which was then part of East Germany. Summer holidays were spent at their grandparents' farm, near the Polish border, harvesting vegetables and fruits, and feeding ducks, chicken, and pigs.
"We derived immense joy from going to the forests to pick berries and mushrooms, and fishing in the lakes nearby. As kids, it was nothing short of an adventure. We feasted on our grandmother's cooking. It was special to see how she got the family together at the table," says 40-year-old Mathias in an email interview from Bangkok, where the duo runs Sühring, which has placed 13th on the Asia's 50 Best Restaurants list this year.
They first arrived in Bangkok in January 2008 to helm the kitchen at Mezzaluna -- the city's highest restaurant, located on the 65th floor of Tower Club in Lebua. Next week, they will be at The Taj Mahal Mumbai for a pop-up that runs from September 13 to 17. But, before that, they share the story of what brought them to Mezzaluna and how it led them to launch their own brand.
Excerpts from the interview:
Did both of you want to become chefs?
Thomas: Our parents made us realise how much we loved the time we spent on the farm, harvesting and preparing food
with our grandparents. They suggested we explore the idea of becoming chefs since Germany was finally united by the time we turned 19, and we had the freedom to travel to wherever we wanted. We trained in different hotels in Berlin and earned a diploma after three years. We took a trip across the country in our car and visited all the three-Michelin-starred restaurants to apply for a position.
But no one was interested in hiring us.
Our journey towards becoming professional chefs began when a chef named Sven Elverfeld, from Aqua at The Ritz Carlton in Wolfsburg [Germany], called us.
What led you to launch Sühring?
Thomas: Five years ago, we realised that starting our own restaurant would allow us to fully express ourselves. We knew
Gaggan [Anand, celebrated Bangkok-based Indian chef] since 2008, when we were working at the same hotel in different capacities. He had always been encouraging us to open our own place.
We launched Sühring on February 22, 2016, which also marks the birthday of Gaggan, our partner and friend.
Sühring is 13th on the Asia's 50 Best list. What is the secret behind its success?
Mathias: We never expected Sühring to rank so high on the list within a year of its launch! The atmosphere of a restaurant
goes a long way in establishing a bond with the guests. We ensure that our guests feel comfortable, as if they are visiting an old friend. Hence, we live at the restaurant, to create a warm and relaxed atmosphere. What's better than great food in a homely set-up?
What, according to you, constitutes modern German food?
Thomas: For a long time, Germany wasn't considered to be a country of culinary excellence. The cuisine is often labelled as boring, heavy, fatty, and fixated on meat. But there is so much more to it than just salted pork legs, sausages, potatoes or sauerkraut. We incorporate modern cooking techniques into traditional methods to transport diners to another culinary generation. The result is perfect -- simple execution with robust flavours.
There is a notion that twins think along similar lines. Does this happen with the two of you in the kitchen?
Mathias: There have been instances when both of us have thought on a similar line without having talked about it. We ensure that we openly share ideas and thoughts that work in our favour.
What's your brotherly bond like?
Mathias: We have a respectful and professional equation at work. We discuss all new dishes together. Often, we have a similar view and when we don't, we let the dish take shape, and give it a fair chance. What's important is that we learn every day. Currently, Thomas takes care of cooking hot food items and I focus on preparing cold
ones, including pasties.
What's in store for Mumbai?
Thomas: We are presenting our signature dishes, like Frankfurter Grüne Soße, a sauce that originated in Frankfurt and is made with seven different herbs. We will also bring our two-and-a-half-year-old sourdough to Mumbai to bake authentic German breads, which will be part of the menu. Another dish, called Brotzeit, will have butter churned from lacto-fermented cream and flavoured with wild garlic leaves. Also on the menu is a traditional noodle dish, called Spätzle, from the Black Forest
region of Germany. This one will be served with mushrooms and fresh truffles.
Has Gaggan given you advice for this trip?
Mathias: He told us to enjoy his country and its incredible people.
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