Food at Expo 2020: German chef Thomas Buhner brings award-winning dishes to Dubai

Diners can sample Wagyu, cod, duck and kombucha prawns for one day only, at Jubilee Gastronomy

With five Michelin stars under his hat, Thomas Buhner is one of Germany’s most acclaimed chefs with a career spanning more than 20 years. He will visit Expo 2020 Dubai as part of the Jubilee Gastronomy Chef’s Series by Gates Hospitality, preparing one four-course lunch (Dh795) and one nine-course dinner (Dh2,500) for 30 discerning guests tomorrow.

The menu

Buhner will whip up some of the dishes that have impressed Michelin inspectors over the years. By far the prettiest-looking plate is his A Touch of Autumn, or what the chef describes as “a taste bomb that is full of umami, with mushrooms and a smoked, slightly runny egg yolk”.

Vying for attention in the looks department is potato foam, “as far as I know, the only dish that has ever made the front page of the FAZ [newspaper] in Germany," says the chef. The hot foam is served with a scoop of pumpkin curry ice cream, so you get “hot, cold, airy, firm and spicy all in one spoon”.

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Good cooking didn’t play a big role in our family. We never went to restaurants, but eating together at the table was obligatory
Chef Thomas Buhner

The “gently cooked” cod, meanwhile, comes topped with raw otoro. “The fish warms the otoro, making it perfect in flavour [served with] an umami-teased stock that is more tea than sauce,” says Buhner.

Elsewhere, he melds Spanish cuisine with Asian flavours, serving lukewarm carabinero prawns with tom-yang-dried persimmon and kombucha. The menu also includes fluffy duck, Wagyu with a “pure meat flavour that needs no sauce”, passion fruit in two consistencies and a cottage cheese classic French dessert. “I like excellent products, no matter where they come from,” he says.

The chef

Buhner was born in 1962, in a small village in Riesenbeck, Germany. His father was a commercial clerk and his mum a homemaker. “Good cooking didn’t play a big role in our family. We never went to restaurants, for example,” he says. “But eating together at the table was obligatory.”

After a young Buhner took a test at the employment office at the end of school “because I didn’t know what I could become”, he scored the most points for a career in the kitchen. “A short time later, I told my parents that I wanted to be a very good chef. And that’s how my interest in food was aroused.”

A jolly good chef he is, indeed, if various international restaurant guides and awarding bodies are to be believed.

After stints at the Hilton Dusseldorf, and the Grand Cru, Jorg Muller and Schwarzwaldstube restaurants, Buhner became the head chef at La Table in Dortmund in 1991. The restaurant received its first Michelin star five years later and a second one in 1998. Between 2006 and 2018, the chef helmed La Vie in Osnabruck – a restaurant that was awarded 19 Gault Millau points and three Michelin stars.

Buhner now spends his time as a guest chef, keynote speaker and consultant for gastronomic concepts and food producers all over the world, from developing Westphalian cuisine for a restaurant in Germany to hopping from the Gastronoma exhibition in Valencia and The Ritz-Carlton, Chengdu in China to, as of this month, Expo 2020 Dubai.

Bookings are essential for the Jubilee Chef's Table experience and can be made by contacting 04 317 7120 or book.jubilee@gatesdxb.com

Updated: October 18th 2021, 7:21 AM