Growing up in a family of cooks, Matthias Diether always seemed destined for a career in the kitchen. As the head chef of Berlin’s Michelin-starred First Floor restaurant, Diether brings cutting-edge modern European cuisine to the table, forever drawing culinary inspiration from his travels and foodie experiences.
What first sparked your interest in cooking?
My uncle was a cook and ran a cooking school. He travelled a lot and would often bring cooking materials and stories with him when he came home. My mother also cooked a lot and I always looked forward to Sundays when she prepared a big feast — I would always help my mother with the cooking.
I have always wanted to be a cook; I’m inspired by passion and good, tasty food. My favourite meal is Swabian lukewarm potato salad with German sausages.
How do you describe your own cooking style?
Modern European-style cooking based on the principles of haute cuisine.
You are well-known for your cutting-edge cooking innovations. What is your secret to staying creative?
By eating out in other restaurants regularly to see what other chefs out there are creating, and to create new dishes with products that I personally enjoy preparing and eating.
What do you think of molecular gastronomy? Do you see it as a cooking innovation?
I am against molecular gastronomy and believe its time in the spotlight is coming to an end. Diners want to see products on their plates, with ‘honest cuisine’ being the way forward.
If you weren’t a chef, what would you be?
An ice hockey player. I am a big fan of the German ice hockey team Adler Mannheim, and I love to go to their matches whenever I can.
What is your perspective on the Michelin-star rating system? Do feel the pressure of maintaining a Michelin star?
A review from Michelin is an accolade for every chef. Yes, it is high pressure for me and all my colleagues, because an review is possible on any given day. The first Michelin star is the hardest star to earn.
Where in the world do you consider to be top foodie destinations?
Berlin, because of the high concentration of Michelin-starred restaurants. With so many awarded restaurants in the city, competition is high. I also think New York is a great place. On every corner there are restaurants of every type of cuisine; you can find almost any food you want in the city.
What destinations have surprised you as foodie hotspots?
Baiersbronn in Schwarzwald, Germany, because it has a total of eight Michelin stars across just three restaurants, which is very impressive. I am also impressed by Dubai, where the gourmet scene is so open and the city is experiencing such strong gastronomic development, which is great.
What is the most unusual food experience you have ever had?
It would be at restaurant Juan Amador in Mannheim, Germany. It has sensational and highly creative cuisine, with dishes like pigeon curry (which is very aromatic) and a fish dish that features an ice cube of beurre blanc (white butter) sauce.
And the most decadent meal?
I would say albino sturgeon caviar, which I enjoyed at Emirates Palace hotel in Abu Dhabi.
You’ve obviously travelled extensively for your work. What is your best piece of advice for travellers?
Simply to travel according to the Michelin guides.
Where is next on your travel list?
Rome. It’s a great cultural city and I love Italian cuisine. I don’t have one specific favourite Italian dish, I just enjoy all Mediterranean foodstuffs. I’m looking forward to eating at three-Michelin-starred La Pergola Restaurant at the Rome Cavalieri hotel, which is headed up by executive chef, Heinz Beck.