Few had heard of new German cuisine when twin chefs Thomas and Mathias Suhring began serving elevated takes on kazespatle (Bavarian pasta made with cheese) and smoked trout at their restaurant, Suhring, in Bangkok, at the start of last year.
Less than a year after launching, however, the eatery debuted at No. 13 on the 2017 list of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants and it has become one of the most popular fine-dining restaurants in the Thai capital. The duo draw on their work experiences in Italy and the Netherlands, plus nine years in Bangkok, to bring contemporary German food to Asian audiences.
The Suhring brothers talked with The Japan Times about their upcoming collaboration dinner events in Tokyo, which will take place at the Michelin-starred restaurant Florilege on Aug. 10 and 11.
How would you describe new German cuisine and your approach at Suhring?
Thomas: After 20 years of working in the industry, we never had the chance to cook our country’s food and showcase our heritage, so we decided to do that at our restaurant. Traditional German cuisine is known for having big portions and a lot of heavy components like pork knuckles and sauerkraut, but modern German is lighter and more refined.
Mathias: We’re not changing the flavor profiles. Most of our dishes are very simple, and we present them in a contemporary way.
Your food is inspired in part by your grandmother’s recipes. Can you give an example of a favorite childhood dish and how you’ve interpreted it?
MS: It’s not only the dishes but also the experience we had on our grandma’s farm — harvesting things from the forest and preserving foods.
TS: When we were small, we ate bread five days a week, so it’s in our blood. At Suhring, we make a course called brotzeit, which is like a picnic built around freshly baked bread with homemade cold cuts, pickles, cured fish and condiments. Every night after service, we have a slice of bread with some butter and ham, and it’s a good memory for us.
What are the pros and cons of working so closely with your twin?
TS: I can’t think of any disadvantages. It’s nice to have someone you can trust absolutely and rely on. It’s very emotional because we have shared our entire lives together. Of course, we have different points of view, but at the end of the day, as twins we push each other to go further.
MS: The concept of our restaurant is really about our whole family: We’re using old recipes from our grandmother and our parents, and at the same time we’re creating new recipes together.
Chef collaborations are extremely popular. What do you think of this trend?
MS: Ten years ago, chefs were more secretive and didn’t want to share, but things are more open now. It’s great for chefs to explore each other’s kitchens and learn about the culture of the places you visit. For the guests, there’s a bit of excitement because the guest chef brings something different to the restaurant, so it’s a win-win situation, but you shouldn’t overdo it.
What are you interested in exploring here in Tokyo?
MS: This will be our first time to visit Japan. We’re excited to go there and get our hands on the ingredients, to meet people and delve into the culture. We don’t know what will happen but we’re looking forward to it.
How will you organize the menu at Florilege with chef Hiroyasu Kawate?
TS: There may be some dishes with a touch of Japanese influence, but we also want to prepare a few of our signatures that represent modern German cuisine.
What would you like the guests in Tokyo to take away from the event?
MS: We want people to get to know us and have fun. For us, this is a chance to develop new friendships.
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