40 years of Jeunes Restaurateurs
Passion for top culinary arts
Fine dining, indulgence and excellent culinary arts are popular as never before in Germany. A major contribution to this development has been made by an association of young top chefs – Jeunes Restaurateurs d’Europe (JRE). Exactly 40 years ago young committed chefs came together in order to give new impulsions for the European culinary arts and the enjoyment of gourmet delights. The commitment of Jeunes Restaurateurs over four decades has paid off. 335 JRE chefs from 13 countries now guarantee top culinary standards, innovation and at the same time the cultivation of regional traditions and friendly exchanges. “We are connected by the love of cooking and a great passion for haute cuisine,” says Hans van Manen, the Executive Director of the European association.
Gourmet cuisine and chefs have also a high status in Germany. The Jeunes Restaurateurs represent with currently 73 members one of the strongest JRE country associations. From Sylt to Oberstdorf, from Dresden to Düsseldorf, the young chefs have sustainably changed German culinary arts. Many guests honour the dedication of the chefs who have recognised the diversity of the regional cuisine and innovatively develop it further, with tradition in mind. The most recent Michelin Guide has awarded a total of 54 stars to the performance of the German JRE members. “We offer our guests a unique culinary atmosphere of enjoyment in the urban bistro as well as in the rural gourmet castle,” says Alexander Dressel, President of the German section. An impressive overview of the outstanding quality and diverse offering of the German Jeunes Restaurateurs is provided by the Restaurant and Hotel Guide 2015 which has been published with 100,000 copies as every year.
The young top chefs are not resting on their laurels. In order to cultivate a professional exchange on a top level, they invited for the first time to a “JRE Culinary Laboratory” in 2014. Trying out new approaches and redefining the regional German cuisine are the declared goals of this unique concept. Within the framework of a workshop nine top chefs dealt with the regional cuisine, its diverse traditions and possibilities. With unknown or forgotten products, special cooking techniques and innovative variations, an impressive culinary range was explored. The culinary laboratory is a continuation of other formats which were successfully developed and implemented by the Association. In the different regions young top chefs meet for jam sessions or kitchen parties, in order to cook together or provide each other with culinary impulsions. With their “Academy on Tour” members visit themselves mutually and inform the staff of the other restaurants about many interesting facts from their kitchens.
On the international level the German JRE chefs are likewise looking for challenges. At the “Native Cooking Award” on the ecological Knuthenlund estate in Denmark a three-course menu was to be prepared without electrical appliances and auxiliaries in September. The German delegation with three top chefs from the Jeunes Restaurateurs occupied the second rank behind the host Denmark. The principles of sustainability and regionality demanded in Knuthenlund are among the essential values of the Association, which had already been practised for a long time before they gained worldwide importance. The Jeunes Restaurateurs co-operate with local producers and commit themselves to biodiversity as well as the deliberate handling of foods in production and preparation. There is a close co-operation with the Slow Food movement.
The Jeunes Restaurateurs anchor their high quality standards already in the field of training: they want to pass on their knowledge and experience and have developed an exemplary programme for talent promotion. Since 2005 there has been a training of the elite class which is unique in Germany and consists of co-operation with the Gastronomic Educational Centre Koblenz and the local Julius Wegeler Vocational College. A maximum of 28 candidates is admitted every year to the class of the best and trained in the educational institution of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce Koblenz to become top achievers in gastronomy with the professional qualification of Chef and Hotel Specialist.
In the hotel specialist training there is, moreover, the possibility to obtain a qualification as restaurant specialist. The special feature of this training: apprentices learn directly from the best in a JRE property, they receive an especially high degree of practice orientation and a comprehensive inter-property training which goes beyond the regular framework. The schedule includes specialist seminars and vocational training, excursions, English and French, IT and business administration. The apprentices learn already at an early stage the special community spirit of the Jeunes Restaurateurs. During the training a network is built up which continues during the later professional life and offers many different possibilities for a private and professional exchange. The apprenticeship days of the Jeunes Restaurateurs to which approximately 40 apprentices from the member properties are invited every year are likewise exemplary. They serve for continuing education and the cultivation of contacts – and of course, also to look over the shoulders of top chefs from amongst the Jeunes Restaurateurs.
“With our offering we secure the enthusiasm of many young people every year for the cook profession. We do not have any issues with a lack of young talents in the kitchen,” Alexander Dressel expresses his satisfaction with the initiative of the Association. However, even top gastronomy lacks young talents in the service area. It will be necessary to focus more efforts on the improvement of this situation in future. Dressel: “If we want to be perfect hosts – and that is the declared goal of all Jeunes Restaurateurs – we need people who love to serve our guests comprehensively and courteously.”
The elite class 2014 completed its education with above average high achievements – but this is not enough to become one of the “Jeunes Restaurateurs d’Europe”. The admission criteria are strict: no younger than 25 and no older than 37 years are the age limits for the candidates. They must be mentioned in three relevant restaurant guides and their application must be supported by at least two JRE members. The application is only approved if two experts have visited the property and the general meeting of members agrees. Whoever exceeds the age limit can become a Table d’Honneur at the age of 50 years and a Membre d’Honneur from the age of 55. In Germany there are currently 23 Tables d’Honneur and nine Membres d’Honneur.
On the occasion of their jubilee, the Jeunes Restaurateurs offer in 2015 for the first time a gift card which can be redeemed in all member properties around the world. The cards with a value of EUR 25 to 100 can be ordered from the website from January onwards or printed out directly.
The Jeunes Restaurateurs d’Europe (JRE) are an association of young top chefs who have committed themselves to innovative German cuisine with talent and passion. From Sylt to Oberstdorf, from Dresden to Düsseldorf, the JRE combine high quality culinary skills with the passion for European culinary arts and the respect of local traditions and products. Since 1991 they have been active in Germany with this special quality promise as part of the European JRE Association. The Association currently counts 73 members. The partners of JRE are Alpina, Apollinaris, Bitburger, Fissler, Laurent-Perrier, Moët Hennessy, Rosenthal, Schott Zwiesel, Siemens, VM Vermögensmanufaktur and Zwillings.