Fine Food Days Cologne
The crème de la crème of Cologne’s fine dining
For nine days, from 31 August to 8 September 2019, Cologne is set to transform into the mecca of the fine food and Michelin star community as the first FINE FOOD DAYS COLOGNE takes place. Top chefs and winemakers from Cologne and surroundings will showcase their art at a series of innovative and creative events across the city. It’s a top-class gourmet festival, assures our writer Johannes J. Arens.
“Keep away from the edge, please,” warns the Hyatt Regency rep, as the crowd in chef’s whites assembles on the rooftop of the hotel. One by one, the photographer asks them to pose for a picture against a backdrop of Cologne Cathedral in the foreground and the Rhine valley beyond. From this vantage point, the view also extends to the Rheinauhafen port district with its three distinctive Kranhaus high-rises, the middle of which is home to the restaurant Ox & Klee; the RheinEnergieSTADION, with the Landhaus Kuckuck and Maître restaurants right next door, and maiBeck, just a stone’s throw from the Philharmonie directly across the river. All these restaurants and venues have more in common than a Michelin star or three – for although this might look like a casual gathering of like-minded individuals high above the Rhine, it’s actually a working meeting to prepare for FINE FOOD DAYS COLOGNE.
Flashback to February 2018, another 20 levels further up in the KölnSKY tower across the road, where Von Borries & Partner Premiumgastronomie had organised an initial brainstorming session. From this emerged the idea of a gourmet festival – a plan which was firmed up at a workshop at Althoff Grandhotel Schloss Bensberg near Cologne a fortnight later. Ideas were tabled, discussed and thrown out, alternatives mooted and agreement sought. It was immediately clear that this would be a project unlike no other: no ready-to-use blueprint, no concept that could bought off the rack; instead, a solid partnership between the best restaurants and venues across the city. In September 2018 the partners trialled the concept when they fired up the ranges together at Cologne Stars in the SKY; in October a legal entity was established for the project, and in spring 2019 Cologne’s Lord Mayor Henriette Reker agreed to function as patron.
Spectacular events in unusual locations
Meanwhile the programme for FINE FOOD DAYS COLOGNE has been finalised, a diverse collection of individual events such as cooking in an allotment, a formal seated dinner in a palace, events in a wine cellar and on the roof of the KölnSKY tower, events involving cooking legends in the historic Wolkenburg, and a rock star backstage catering session at the hip Bumann & SOHN venue. These spectacular happenings aside, it’s above all the shared events that lend the festival its innovative character. Experiencing virtually all masterchefs in the city at the same kitchen party (31 August) will truly be a special thing to behold. At Gastroparty (2 September) diners can celebrate with the city’s restaurateurs and their teams. Finally, FINE FOOD DAYS COLOGNE will culminate in a spectacular GalaDinner (8 September), during which chefs will be paired up randomly to cook together, along with a ceremony to present outstanding representatives of the scene with the FINE FOOD AWARDS in the Chef, Trainee, Wine and Lifetime Achievement categories. This will all go down at Club Volta in Mülheim, whose charming industrial atmosphere is representative of the spirit of the festival: new, young and innovative, yet mindful of the culinary traditions and gastronomic DNA of the city and the surrounding region.
The event on the rooftop of the Hyatt will remain a one-off for security reasons, and the two events one level down in the presidential suite are already sold out. However, tickets are still available for many of the other events during which the city’s best chefs will showcase the crème de la crème of what the region has to offer in culinary terms – so make sure you get yours!
Excelsior Hotel Ernst (taku*), Grandhotel Schloss Bensberg (Trattoria Enoteca & Restaurant Vendôme***), Gut Lärchenhof* (La Société*), Hyatt Regency, KölnSKY, maiBeck*, Maître* at Landhaus Kuckuck, Maximilian Lorenz*/Heinz Hermann, Ox & Klee** and Wolkenburg.
Further information: www.finefooddays.cologne