From Kassel to Cologne – the rise of a Michelin-star chef
#culinarycologne ambassador: Mario Kotaska
A huge fan of Cologne’s “Kölner Haie” ice hockey club, Kassel-born Mario Kotaska has very much made Cologne his home. The holder of a Michelin star, he spent seven years as head chef at the prestigious “La Société” restaurant and can often be seen on German television. He has set out to redefine German fast food with his “bratwerk by Mario Kotaska” business concept – a resounding success, in our opinion.
In recognition of all his work in the food business, we thus hereby award Mario Kotaska the title of “#culinarycologne ambassador”!
What does Culinary Cologne mean to you?
As the name says, it’s an initiative that reflects the city’s entire culinary spectrum. Cologne’s culinary offering is truly incredible – from Michelin stars to vegan and fast food to brewery pubs.
How would you define Cologne’s food scene? How does it stand out from other cities?
I think it’s precisely the mixture I was just talking about! Plus a unique local atmosphere and an urban flair. And where else would you find culinary museums and, of course, the ultimate unique selling point: Kölsch!
Why did you choose Cologne? And how has the city influenced you from a culinary point of view?
When I came to Cologne in 2002, I had no idea about the local cuisine and all its confusing terminology so I fell into all the usual traps. But I went on to invent the “kölsche tapas”, a selection of local delicacies, which were on the menu at “La Société” for years – and still are, I think.
After my initial faux pas, I made an effort to learn all I could about the cuisine of the Rhine region and developed a real love for it.
How do you think Cologne can progress in terms of its culinary offering? How could that be achieved?
I think Cologne is already doing really well. And our second two-star restaurant confirms we’re on the right track. My own personal dream, however, would be to see Alte Bastei and Colonius re-open. They were true institutions, steeped in tradition and glamour. But I couldn’t say what would be needed to achieve that dream.