Monday, 15 April 2019

Celebrity Chefs | The Camaraderie Between the Suhring Twins and their Secret to being Asia's #4 Restaurant

In the last couple of years India has been on the radar of some of the best chefs from across the world. From Massimo Bottura to Daniel Humm, Alain Passard to Marco Pierre White, some of the most celebrated international chefs have not only showcased their exquisite culinary skills to our people but have in turn been extremely inspired by India’s varied and rich gastronomic heritage.

Thomas and Mathias Suhring at Taj Mahal New Delhi.

A few months ago Bangkok-based Sühring Twins, Michelin-starred Chefs Thomas and Mathias Sühring, made their way to Delhi on their maiden culinary trip to the Indian capital. They were in town for a 3-day pop-up at the Taj Mahal, New Delhi where they served some of the signature dishes of their eponymous award-winning restaurant in Bangkok, Sühring. Sühring is currently ranked #4 Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, and #1 on Top Tables Bangkok for two consecutive years  - A remarkable feat for a restaurant within two years of its opening {Sühring opened in February 2016}.

We caught up with Thomas and Mathias Sühring over a quick tete e tete before tasting some of their fabulous dishes including the smoked lamb that was introduced at their restaurant just two weeks prior to this trip. Here are some excerpts from our chat:

Being identical twins have you ever played any prank on your diners?
Thomas and Mathias: Although we don’t consciously play pranks on our guests, when people don’t know that we are identical twins it is fun to see their reaction when one of us is already in the room and the other one walks in and says “hello”. Or, when one of us walks out and the other enters and greets the same people again they look puzzled. We also usually wear a similar shirt so it is tough for most people to figure who’s who. {Thomas is five minutes older.}

On a serious note, what are the advantages for you siblings to be working together; what are your individual strengths?
Mathias: Thomas is a great partner because he likes to get things done and yet, is not too pushy. I can trust him 100 percent, both as family and a business partner.
Thomas: Mathias is very patient and is always on time.

Why did you choose to move to Bangkok?
Mathias: Thomas initially got a job at lebua Bangkok.
Thomas: When I got this job I was excited to move to a different country, a different continent even after years of working in Germany, the Netherlands and Italy. But my only condition was that Mathias should also be given a job along with me.
Thomas and Mathias: After working at lebua for seven years, Gaggan {Chef Gaggan Anand} motivated us to open our own restaurant. Businesswise it was the right decision since Bangkok has undergone a drastic change in the four-five years - with an influx of international chefs and new hotels coming up the culinary standards have gone up. Today we are glad that we have two homes. {Thomas has a Thai wife and an adorable baby girl.}

Top: Their signature smoked lamb that they cooked in Delhi.

What prompted you to open a German restaurant in Thailand?
Thomas and Mathias: In our career spanning 20 years, we had cooked everything from French and Italian to Thai but never cooked German food professionally. Also, we had worked outside of Germany for 15 years and wanted an emotional connect with our home country. Germany has a great food heritage but German food still remains largely traditional. We took an old recipe book from our grandparents and gave it our modern touch. This is also our way of keeping our cuisine alive and passing it on to the next generation.

What is your food philosophy?
Thomas and Mathias: We are proud to bring our own heritage and emotions to the plate. We love simplicity of dishes and use top quality ingredients. Although we incorporate modern techniques and presentation styles, we serve ‘old dishes’ that are reminiscent of our country.

Is there any distinct moment when you developed your unique style?
Thomas and Mathias: Although we learnt from some of the great international chefs, our parents and grandparents definitely influence our food philosophy. Our culinary journey began while we spent our annual school summer breaks at our grandparents’ farm. Our grandmother had a canteen, we used to help her in her vegetable garden, go foraging with our grandfather and learnt old school techniques like fermentation, smoking, pickling, drying and curing which are rooted in German tradition.

Do you have any advice for young chefs aspiring to be on World's Best or Asia's Best Restaurants?

Thomas and Mathias: We would like to tell them that success doesn’t come overnight. You have to be patient and believe in yourself because it is not easy. It can be very frustrating and you will require daily motivation to keep going. This profession requires long hours of work, so be ready to sacrifice a lot, be it family time or holidays. There are no weekends off!

This article was first published in a luxury lifestyle magazine in April 2019.