In 2017, just three years after becoming head chef at the restaurant Atelier in Munich’s Bayerischer Hof hotel, Jan Hartwig succeeded in achieving the Michelin Guide’s top rating of three stars. That put him firmly amongst the world’s culinary elite, yet the German star chef, whose father was also a chef, is totally unpretentious. Hartwig thinks a well-cooked schnitzel can be equally as good as a meticulously prepared and presented haute cuisine dish.
Jan Hartwig has three Michelin stars, making him one of the world’s best chefs. Cooking is his absolute favourite thing in life, and he’s at his happiest just cooking by feel.
He is a firm believer that “the simplest food can be the tastiest ever.” Jan Hartwig tells us there are three prerequisites to excellence: “First you need the perfect product – whether it’s a carrot or a line-caught turbot. Second is culinary competency, and third is loving what you do, having a real desire to put effort into cooking something for someone to make them happy.”
2022 Hartwig opened his own restaurant “Jan”, following his personal vision. The restaurant is characterized by his unwavering passion for excellence in every detail. “I don’t compromise when it comes to quality,” says Hartwig. “If I don’t get a product that is the quality I was expecting, then I rewrite the menu. I would never say ‘We’ll use it anyway,'” he continues. For him that’s what is needed to create outstanding food. Hartwig also thinks it’s very important for his restaurant to appeal to young people who like good food. “Younger guests want to be entertained – but not with showiness. They want somewhere they can feel comfortable, where they can have a good time.”
Much of the way he understands what diners are looking for is down to his personal commitment. When guests are in the restaurant, Jan Hartwig is in the kitchen, and “nothing is served until I’ve tasted it.” The dedicated chef has a great way of explaining his thoughts on this. “If I go to see my favourite band then I expect the original line-up to be on stage,” he says.
In Hartwig’s opinion, to cook excellent food you first need to minimize the potential for error. Of course selecting the right ingredients is a factor, he says, but finding and training good employees is more important, as is relying on your instincts when you’re cooking. “For example I’ve never written down the recipes for my sauces, only the ingredients. Then when I’m making them I just go with what feels right, allowing that little bit of magic to happen that makes cooking one of the most sensual experiences there has ever been.