7:30 a.m., it’s humid, cold and foggy: autumn weather. The small delivery van is parked at the side entrance. That’s the way towards the kitchen. Four people get off the van, all of them dressed in black. The “A team” has arrived. At least this is written in petrol-coloured letters on the jackets and on the van. “A” stands for Antoniewicz because today is workshop day. Almost 20 people have registered, cooks from different houses, of different age and with different experience. What do they all have in common? They are looking forward to receiving new impulses from Heiko Antoniewicz – one of them, but nevertheless a bit different. He never considered himself a classic cook, he says about himself. He says instead that he is a seeker.
He made a name for himself in Europe and Asia as a lecturer. An increased knowledge transfer is typical for his workshops and speeches. Thus he lights very different target groups with his passion for cooking. When asked for his favourite dish he answers with a slight smile: “Always the next new, unexpected, different taste, but tomato, mango, olive oil are nevertheless important for me – on the other hand I could do very well without onions, pepper and kiwi for example.”
After two hours of preparation the workshop starts: “Hello and good morning! My name is Heiko Antoniewicz. I’m pleased you’re with me. Let’s get on a discovery trip together. You don’t have to travel far for this purpose as you can find inspirations everywhere. The exoticism that is waiting for us is just here right under our noses, so to say it’s already on our plates – or it’s not. My objective is to rediscover forgotten and known recipes and to create new contexts. It’s about the appreciation and best use of foodstuffs. It’s about old methods and modern technologies, cooking as an artisanal activity and the preparation of dishes as a philosophy.”
After this indroduction it’s obvious for everyone that Antoniewicz is no cook in the classic sense. And that’s exactly why they are here. After all he was elected “trendsetter in the German gastronomy scene” for the fourth time in September 2019. The following is a mixture of food preparation, tasting and speech. Antoniewicz always stays very intuitive. He acts closely to people and in the centre of the picture, but always keeps a kind of bird’s eye perspective. He changes the participants’ viewpoints and points out contexts which haven’t yet been seen.
Aditionally he and his helpers distribute food samples and small taste creations – accompanied by a large “mmmmhhh” expressed by Antoniewicz himself. “Did you know that a “mmmhhh”, but also the colour of the plate or an “enjoy” influence our sense of taste?”, he asks. “People who prepare food should not only care about its taste. They should plan and construct the taste experience. It’s about including all senses. The first bite is for the eyes, the second one for the nose, the third one for the sense of touch of the lips, the fourth one for the tongue, the fifth one for the ears and the sixth one for the whole taste experience at the same time.”
In Antoniewicz’ opinion good food makes a good gut feeling – as well in the figurative sense. “Let’s have a look at our ancestors how they dealt with food, how they hunted, cultivated, grew and recycled completely what they found. They used it freshly or conserved it during the whole year. We can link up with that today. At that time they acted from necessity as there was nothing. Now you can say we act from necessity as there is too much cheap food and too much food is thrown away – also in the professional kitchen”, Antoniewicz says. “We need a new cooking and kitchen tradition. We have to deal with food in a more respectful and sustainable way. The motto is: fresh, regional, seasonal. We need to bear in mind that our guests became adults. They have their own ideas, are well informed and after all interested in food. It’s time for a partnership approach.”
One of the present workshop participants asks Antoniewicz what he means exactly. “I like precision. A lot. On the plate and around the plate. I also like appreciation of every single guest and every single dish. I like taste, good taste, finely tuned taste – regardless of form and price level of the gastronomy”, Antoniewicz answers. “The guest is supposed to expect all this from me as a cook or gastronomer. At the same time I request that gastronomy is allowed and has to indicate its value with self-confidence. The phase of preparation, the whole know-how, the basic craftwork and finally the fresh products – all this has its price and is worth it. Good cuisine is expensive!”
During the next three hours Antoniewicz invites the participants to a trip throughout history. He starts with the beginnings of fermentation 5000 years ago. This oldest method of conservation is being rediscovered by modern award-winning cuisine as natural flavour enhancer. Then he jumps to the night markets of Kuala Lumpur and the culinary roots of fusion cuisine as a natural part of Malay culture and finishes with a cocktail made of distilled Westphalian spelt corn. He says he draws strength from the inspirations of this trips and the work in his “laboratory” not only to develop innovative recipes, but also to complete food concepts and product ideas using modern approaches of science and the interaction of different disciplines. “I process all these influences in the many facets of my life as a cook. I want to experience the variety of food and make it tangible for other people.”
Almost up to the end of the workshop a participant asks Antoniewicz how he found his way to cooking. The answer is quite personal: “I must have been nine years old. Max Inzinger used to cook in the popular TV show “drehscheibe” in the 1970s. He was one of the first cooks who brought cooking into television and thus into the living rooms. In a sequence he collected dandelion leaves in the woods. In the TV studio he made a salad of them that was accompanied by fried chicken liver. At that moment I knew: That was what I wanted! I wanted to become a cook.”
54-year-old Heiko Antoniewicz learned his job as an apprentice at Lennhof in Dortmund. Then he changed his employer and worked with Gerhard Gartner at Restaurant Gala in Aachen. In 1989 he became deputy chef under Berthold Bühler at Résidence in Essen. In 1992 he founded the dinner service Art Manger. In 2004 he began to work as a kitchen director at Frankfurt catering service Kofler & Company and was honoured twice as “caterer of the year”. Since 2006 Antoniewicz is a freelance consultant and trainer in the areas of molecular cuisine, catering, quality management and product development. Since 2008 he develops innovative culinary concepts and products as managing director of Antoniewicz Ltd.
Antoniewicz received several prizes for his books. His first book “Finger Food – The Crown of Culinary Art” dealt with avantgarde cuisine. It was awarded as “most innovative cookbook of the world” and Antoniewicz received the World Cookbook Award. Then he wrote “Reckless Cooking” and “Molecular Basics” dealing with molecular cuisine. With “Bread” he left the classic kitchen paths and this oeuvre was awarded as “best bread book of the world” by World Cookbook Award. “Sous Vide” is a basic work for vacuum cooking that was translated into English. “Flavour Pairing” was awarded with the gold medal of the German Gastronomic Academy. In summer of 2020 he and Ludwig Mauer published the book “Wild Forest”.