Chefs at Home: Daniel Grothues (& Recipe)

Daniel in his home and dining room.
Daniel in his home and dining room.

I’ve had the idea of portraying chefs in their home for quite some time, there are so many people creating beautiful food but they don’t necessarily have or sometimes don’t even want a restaurant. I am very happy about the developments in the Berlin foodie scene and a growing and thriving scene of private chefs is a convincing proof for an enjoyable process. The first one in a hopefully long going series of portraits of chefs, is Daniel Grothues and his supper club and catering service Daniel’s Eatery.

THE cookies. Made with chocolate, coffee, dried fruit, potato chips and pretzel pieces.
THE cookies. Made with chocolate, coffee, dried fruit, potato chips (!) and pretzel pieces (!!).

Some weeks ago, I instantly fell in love with a batch of cookies, an adaption of New York based Momofuku Milk Bar’s compost cookies, at Berlin’s fashion agency’s press days, only to find out they’ve been made by Daniel. I’ve experienced his mouthwatering catering already at an event last summer, where I even took the small information card with me, which I rarely do, since I usually just lose them. But Daniel’s food left an impression and when I found out the delicious salads, breads, cakes and THE cookies offered at Schröder&Schömbs press days’ this April where in fact made by him, I couldn’t help but track him down and thank him. (I even packed a little doggie-bag with cookies at the agency to take to my office, sometimes I get so excited by food, it’s almost embarassing…) After heaping some praise on this man I just met, who I am sure was a little startled by a random stranger going crazy about his cookies at a fashion event, I was happy he agreed to take part and so I visited him in his home in Prenzlauer Berg.

He lives on the crossing of Eberswalder Straße in a beautiful and spacious Altbau apartment, which also serves as the location for his supper club. Every other week, Daniel creates a menu that is based on classic German cooking but refines every recipe with a contemporary twist, serving a five-course dinner to ten hungry and curious supper club guests.

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Though not a trained chef, Daniel has been cooking and baking for as long as he remembers. But like many self-trained chefs, didn’t decide to take on the quite strenuous professional education and instead studied international marketing in the Netherlands after finishing school and went on to work in the marketing department of some huge companies in Berlin. Cooking and baking remained to be a big part of his life, though, and when he felt his passion for corporate marketing jobs faded, this trait slowly emerged to be his main job. Starting out with the supper club in the Autumn of 2011, he today also works as a caterer and can be booked via Kitchensurfing as a private chef. The next step will be a month he spends in New York, not only to refine his compost cookie recipe in a Momofuku baking class, but also to bring his supper club to Brooklyn with a special menu of updated German classics like Königsberger Klopse (see the dates and booking information here).

When I asked him for a recipe, he instantly suggested this very spring-like salad, a light and elegant combination of asparagus, strawberries and prawns with a vanilla-prosecco vinaigrette. You can easily modify this salad to your liking, try for instance rhubarb instead of strawberries. The vinaigrette needs a strong counterpart with a bit more tartness to it to balance the vanilla, so allow yourself to be creative. Daniel usually combines parts of recipes and foods he tastes to create new dishes. His main inspirations online are food-blogs like My New Roots (a blog I myself have a serious fan-craze about), The Kitchn and Sous Style.

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Green asparagus salad with strawberries, chili-prawns and a prosecco-vanilla vinaigrette

Ingredients for 2:
10 pieces of green asparagus
6 strawberries
100g prawns
1 chili

vinaigrette:
30ml white wine vinegar
60ml prosecco
60ml mild olive oil
3 teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or one fresh vanilla bean)

Blanch chopped asparagus for about 3 minutes in salted water, drain and quench with cold water and lay out to dry and cool down. Mix the vinegar, prosecco, olive oil, sugar and vanilla for the vinaigrette, season it with salt and pepper. Add the asparagus to the vinaigrette to allow it to infuse with the aromas.
Wash, dry and cut the chili in half to remove the seeds. Chop it finely and put it in a pan with olive oil and a bit of salt. Add the prawns and roast them until they are done.
Transfer the asparagus to a dish, decorate with strawberries, prawns with chili and add some more vinaigrette, if you like. Enjoy.

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