Pottkind Köln Enrico Sablotny
Enrico Sablotny in his element - cooking for guests at restaurant Pottkind. Photo: Jennifer Rumbach

Pottkind: Enrico Sablotny, Cologne’s most laid-back Michelin-star chef

Gourmet restaurant Pottkind serves guests at a bar overlooking the open kitchen. As creative as it is down-to-earth, Pottkind was awarded a Michelin star in 2021. We talked to chef Enrico Sablotny.

Enrico, how long were you in the kitchen yesterday?

We started at noon and finished around 11pm. Even though we don’t open until the evening, we cook all our sauces ourselves and they have to reduce, which takes quite a bit of time.

That’s a long work day.

It is but it’s normal in our business. We’ve just introduced a four-day week for our kitchen staff to make their working hours a bit more humane.

You and your business partner, Lukas Winkelmann, opened your own restaurant, Pottkind, three years ago. What does the name mean?

Lukas and I are both from the Ruhr region. “Pottkinder” is the local dialect word there for “children”. That’s where it came from.

Pottkind Köln
Lukas Winkelmann and Enrico Sablotny of Michelin-starred restaurant Pottkind in Cologne.

Why should guests dine at Pottkind? What can they expect?

I’d say we’re quite good cooks.

Officially, our menu has five courses but there are more really.

Enrico Sablotny, chef at Michelin-starred restaurant Pottkind

That’s a slight understatement! You got your first star last year – massive recognition after such a short time. What’s changed since?

Not much really except that we’ve reopened – it happened during lockdown. Of course, we were delighted to get the star. It’s something chefs always dream of but it was an incredible acknowledgement to get it so quickly and with a concept that we completely believe in.

Pottkind has a set menu, no a la carte.

Yes, that sort of came about over time. Our menu changes every two months. Officially, it’s got five courses but really there are more. For instance, we serve our bread as a course in its own right because we put a lot into making it and we feel it deserves to be showcased.

Restaurant Pottkind
The Pottkind restaurant and its team. Photo: Pottkind

Each dish consists of just five components.

Enrico Sablotny

Where do you get your inspiration? How do you develop a new menu?

We decide on the main component as a team – so meat, fish or vegetable – and then try things out around that. It’s not as methodical as you might think. Often it just happens. Our aim is to create harmonious dishes that don’t have too much acidity or spiciness but surprise the palate with intense flavours. Each dish consists of just five components. So we might cook yellow beetroot in beeswax and serve it in thin slices with millet, rhubarb and goats cheese from the nearby Eifel region.

Rheinischer Sauerbraten reloaded: a recipe by Pottkind chef Enrico Sablotny to try at home

Rheinischer Sauerbraten
A modern take on Rheinischer Sauerbraten: pasta, vegetables and ox cheeks pulled-pork style combine to produce an elegant ragout.
Photo: Line Holler with Raufeld

You ferment and preserve a lot of ingredients yourselves, don’t you?

Yes, mainly because we want to minimise waste. If we have fruit or vegetables left over, we don’t throw them away. We preserve them and think about how we could use them in the next menu. Sometimes that results in completely new dishes. For instance, we discovered that fermented apples taste like goose liver and we incorporated that component in our vegetarian menu.

Pottkind is a small restaurant but it’s got a long bar. Why’s that?

The bar is the threshold between the dining area and the kitchen. Guests who sit at the bar can watch us work as we chop, cook, plate up and do the washing-up. Our customers love to sit there.

A lot of people still think Michelin star restaurants are pricy and prim but Pottkind has more of a laid-back feel. How does that work?

Our restaurant definitely wouldn’t have been awarded a star ten years ago. We play loud music, we have an open kitchen and our guests wear sneakers. But Michelin-starred cuisine is in a transition process, it’s becoming more accessible and open. For us, it’s always been important to combine fine dining with fun dining.

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