Flash-grilled: Alexander Thiel

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Alexander Thiel executive chef at D&D London's German Gymnasium restaurant discusses his career

Related tags D&d london German Gymnasium Casual dining Chef

The executive chef at D&D London's German Gymnasium restaurant in King's Cross on eating 'real' döner kebabs, why he prefers Saturday Kitchen to MasterChef, and his dream dinner party guests.

What was your first industry job?
I was an apprentice for three years at Französischer Hof in Berlin.

If you weren’t in kitchens, what would you do?
Professor for history, politics and theology at a university.

What industry figure do you most admire, and why?
There’s not one chef who I admire the most, there’s many sous and head chefs that have helped form my way of working. Some I admire for their passion, some for their calmness and
then there’s others where I’ll remember to never be like them. But when thinking of a specific industry figure, I’d say Charlie Trotter in the US. He published a series of chef books that were a revelation to me.

What’s your pet hate in the kitchen?
Working slow when speed is necessary.

Sum up your cooking style in a single sentence…
Very approachable and I love to cook for everyone.

What’s the worst review you’ve ever had?
Still waiting for that one…

What advice would you give someone starting out in the industry?
Really think twice about it, but when the decision is made go for it! Don’t let anyone stop you, do your thing.

Which single item of kitchen equipment could you not live without?
Small peeling knife.

What would you choose to eat for your last meal?
Sauerbraten with red cabbage and some of my mum’s homemade dumplings.

À la carte or tasting menu?
À la carte.

What’s the best meal you’ve ever had in a restaurant?
At a small restaurant in Baden Würtemberg. We had spätzle with veal medallions and mushroom sauce. Very simple, but so good.

What’s your favourite fast food joint?
I don’t do fast food but when I’m back in Berlin I always have a real döner kebab.

What’s the dish you wish you’d thought of?
Königsberger klopse - veal meatballs with capers and anchovies.

MasterChef ​or Great British Menu​?
Neither, too much stress. I prefer rather Saturday Kitchen​.

What’s the most overrated food?
Never been a big fan of truffles.

You’re a restaurant dictator for a day – what would you ban?
Anything delivered in plastic.

Who would your dream dinner party guests be?
Trevor Noah, Depeche Mode, Antonio Guterres, Malala Yousafzai, Greta Thunberg and Sybille Berg.

What’s your earliest food memory?
Tomato sauce home cooked by my mum.

Twitter or Instagram?

What’s the closest you’ve ever come to death?
I was 16 when the Berlin Wall fell. Berlin in that time was just crazy, let’s say I have been lucky a couple of times.

Where do you go when you want to let your hair down?
Walking with my wife.

What’s your tipple of choice?
Beer and red wine.

What’s your favourite food and drink pairing?
I can eat everything with a good cold lager.

What do you consider to be your signature dish?
Try a good German rye bread with salami, sliced apple and yoghurt on top.

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