Located in the heart of the Rhine Valley, Schwarzenstein is the latest step in Nils’ culinary journey that began in the mid-1980s, firstly at the Romantikhotel Voss-Haus in Eutin, then in various kitchens in Hamburg and the Munsterland before finally landing as a sous chef at late Dieter Müller’s Lerbach restaurant in 1997.
‘I wasn’t always a chef,’ he says. ‘When I was 15, my first job was making plastic windows! I was frustrated. But when I got my first job in a kitchen and saw how creative it was and how I could create plates for guests within my first week, I knew I had the perfect job.’
That quest for perfection has driven Nils ever since. From 2008 until the restaurant’s closure in 2014, Nils was Head Chef at Lerbach, creating a menu that delighted both guests and critics with its emphasis on fish, vegetables and local produce.
‘It’s interesting to find perfection,’ admits Nils. ‘I want to look for the perfect way of doing things. To please Michelin inspectors you have to keep the quest alive, and to be more and more perfect. For me, I need to use the best products, to work with creative people, to work with German ingredients and to create our own distinctive style.’