Porträtaufnahme von Jaspreet Dhaliwal-Wilmes. Er trägt seine Kochjacke und schaut lächelnd in die Kamera.
A fusion of fun and creativity in the kitchen: Jaspreet Dhaliwal-Wilmes. Photo: Jennifer Rumbach

Fine Food Days Cologne: Jaspreet Dhaliwal-Wilmes and his French-Indian fusion cuisine

Indian-born gourmet chef Jaspreet Dhaliwal-Wilmes from Der Vierte König in Cologne serves a menu devoid of poppadoms, dal and chicken tikka masala. He told us how his fusion cuisine unites French tradition, Indian spices and German wild herbs.

Cologne’s Fine Food Days event is an opportunity for food fans to enjoy out-of-the-ordinary dishes at out-of-the-ordinary locations. At this year’s two-week event, the focus is on regional, sustainable cuisine.

We spoke to three of the eleven top chefs taking part, kicking off with Jaspreet Dhaliwal-Wilmes and his Der Vierte König restaurant. Jaspreet may be Indian-born but guests won’t find poppadoms, dal or even chicken tikka masala on his menu. He let us in on how his fusion style unites French tradition, Indian spices and German wild herbs.

Jaspreet, let’s start with how you got where you are today. How did you go from studying electrical engineering to becoming a chef?
I often helped my mother make curry when I was still back in India. When I was 24, I was forced to leave India for Cologne and I started working in my uncle’s Italian restaurant, La Luna. I was just washing the dishes at first but within two months I could cook everything on the menu. When my uncle said I had a gift, I felt motivated to do something with it. Two of his regulars gave me a lot of help too and introduced me to the owner of Vieux Sinzig. I did a placement there and discovered how much fun cooking is!

What’s the most important skill a chef needs?
Obviously, as a chef, I need a good sense of taste and smell. And a certain amount of creativity is important too, of course. Kitchen working hours aren’t great – you work when others have stopped working. So I think the most important thing is the enjoyment cooking gives. I knew very early on that I wanted to run my own restaurant one day.

A feast for the eyes: Jaspreet Dhaliwal-Wilmes, manager of Der Vierte König, combines skill and art in his creations. Photo: Jennifer Rumbach

You trained in gourmet restaurants, under Klaus Jaquemod (Capricorn i Aries), Franz Hütter (Zur Tant) and Jean-Marie Dumaine (Vieux Sinzig). What was the most important thing you learned there?
Apart from the skill, the respect for ingredients was what impressed me. We don’t just use the best parts and throw away the rest – that’s not how we work. I learned to use as much as possible. So I put onion skin in my meat stock, for example. And you can make amaretto from plum stones and “recycle” stale bread.

You worked at Vieux Sinzig for a long time. Why does French cuisine appeal to you?
It’s diverse and aromatic. I learned a lot about wild herbs there. But, overall, I’m impressed by how French chefs work with their ingredients. What stands out is their skill and the careful preparation – without that, fine puff pastry, pâtés and tasty stocks wouldn’t be possible.

How did you come up with the name of your restaurant, “Der Vierte König”?
It was a nickname my old boss gave me. The three kings took gold, frankincense and myrrh to Bethlehem. Jean-Marie Dumaine from Vieux Sinzig said I was the fourth king, bringing spices. I thought it sounded good!

Your dishes combine French haute cuisine with Indian aromas. What led you to think the two would go well together?
I’d say I’m the first to do this. But it doesn’t sound that unusual to me. Spices play a major role in my home country of India. We always used to make our own curries and dry and mix the herbs. Every housewife in India has her own blend. My mother often used to cook rice pudding with vegetables. If it works with rice pudding, it can work with other desserts too. So I added carrot and fenugreek to crème brulée. I season other sweets, like guava caramel or apricot ice cream, with cardamom. Our curry-marinated salmon (using our own red curry) with potato espuma and wild garlic oil has been on our menu for a long time. It’s a favourite with our guests.

Jaspreet Dhaliwal-Wilmes is one of Cologne’s leading chefs – and one look at his creations tells you why. Photo: Jennifer Rumbach

Where do you get your inspiration when you’re developing a new dish?
When I cook a new dish, I often have the taste in my head. If I need fish or meat, I have to order them in advance but I buy everything else myself. I like to wander around the market and see what’s there. Sometimes some of the fruits taste a bit different here than they do in India. Passion fruit, for instance. Often, it’s not ripe when it’s picked. But it develops new flavours if you pickle it. I also love to go foraging for berries and wild garlic in the woods or wild herbs down by the Rhine. Orache, for example, or meadowsweet, which I put into ice cream. I gather fir tips too – the fresh, soft, light green bits at the end of a fir-tree branch. I use them to make pesto, for example, or steep them in corn schnapps to make a liqueur.

You’ve always run monthly cookery courses. Why?
I really enjoy showing guests how I cook and how to use the spices. Lots of people don’t know how demanding cooking is and how much preparation is entailed with some dishes. I show them how you can sometimes achieve more with less. I cook dishes with them that they can cook easily at home. But we’re only running mini-courses for small, private groups at the moment because of the pandemic.

What do you think of German cuisine in general – and the cuisine in Cologne in particular?
German food is very good if it’s made of good ingredients and it’s done right! For instance, I really like goulash and stews. And I really love broad beans with bacon – that’s a classic really, isn’t it?

Cologne will be holding its Fine Food Days gourmet festival from 21 August to 4 September. The event is intended to showcase the city’s culinary variety. A new element this year is that the restaurants will be doing their own interpretations of that Cologne favourite, “Himmel un Ääd”.
This is the third Fine Food Days festival and I’m delighted they asked me to take part. A festival like this is a great way of reaching lots of people and getting them excited about haute cuisine. I’m going to be cooking “Himmel un Ääd” too. The classic version consists of mashed potato, stewed apple, onions and black pudding. My interpretation is based on salmon marinated in our house-made curry, potato espuma and black pudding croutons.

A Sustainability Award will be presented as part of the festival. How do you incorporate sustainability into your cuisine?
I’m a big fan of cooking sustainably anyway. It pains me to see food thrown away! People often say haute cuisine only uses the best bits of everything. I disagree. We don’t throw anything away in my kitchen. We use almost everything. Incidentally, one of my favourite dishes is “merry” French toast, which we make by marinating leftover baguette in red wine, adding raisins and then baking it again.

Fine Food Days Cologne, 21 August to 4 September.

If lighter creative cuisine is more your thing, head for Streetfood-Festival Köln, from 9 to 11 September in the city’s Ehrenfeld district.

Himmel un Ääd” recipe by Jaspreet Dhaliwal-Wilmes

Want to try your hand at this Cologne dish? Watch the video to see how to cook Jaspreet Dhaliwal-Wilmes’ recipe at home.


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“Himmel un Ääd”: Ingredients for 6 people

  • 180g boiled potatoes
  • 180g cream
  • 120g water strained from the potatoes
  • 4g salt
  • 1g nutmeg

  • 480g cod fillet (6 pieces)
  • 4g salt
  • 4g sugar
  • 4g garam masala

  • 1 Granny Smith apple
  • 1 bunch thyme
  • 100g water
  • 100g sugar
  • 1 pinch of salt

  • 200g black pudding
  • A little flour


1. Potato espuma

While the potatoes are still warm, purée them with the cream, the water from the potatoes, the salt and the nutmeg until smooth, then rub through a fine sieve. Pour into a 0.5-litre whipping siphon and insert a cartridge to make a foam. Keep the siphon in a pan of hot water until you’re ready to serve.

2. Cod

Mix the salt, sugar and garam masala and spread it over one side of the cod fillets. Leave them to marinate in the fridge for 24 hours.

When you’re ready to serve, heat the cod fillets in the oven at 80°C (fan) for 10 to 15 minutes depending on the thickness.

3. Thyme and apple

To make the thyme stock, boil the water, sugar and a pinch of salt and allow to cool back down again.

Remove the core from the apple and slice the apple very thinly. Place the slices in the thyme stock and allow to steep with the lid on for at least one hour.

4. Black pudding

Chop the black pudding into small cubes, cover them in a little flour and sear them in a non-stick frying pan.

To serve, spray the potato espuma into a soup plate, place a cod fillet on top and decorate with the black pudding croutons and apple slices.

Guten Appetit!

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