Dhe package of butter costs around 50 percent more than a year ago. Many people are also worried about rising gas and electricity prices caused by the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. Even chefs in top gastronomy are not spared. “Energy costs are an increasing problem,” says Björn Swanson, chef and owner of the star restaurant “faelt” in Berlin. Employees are therefore specifically sensitized and trained “to reduce costs where possible”.
Lots of savings to be had at the Michelin starred restaurant apply, but would have “to do with common sense”. This includes, for example: “Turn off the lights, don’t let the water run idly, don’t leave the cooling open unnecessarily.”
Energy efficient devices
In the vegan star restaurant in Frankfurt, the “Seven Swans”, they are also switching to energy-efficient appliances. “We have a large gas stove in the middle of the kitchen, but we only use it for service after 7 p.m.,” explains star chef Ricky Saward. Before that, only induction plates were used to save energy.
Also in the restaurant “Alt Wyk” on the North Sea island of Föhr, which has had a Michelin star since 2012, they try to save energy wherever possible, explain the owners Daniela and René Dittrich. Because although the booking situation for the Christmas season is good, current developments are causing concern. “Guests will certainly pay more attention to their expenses and expect better service as prices rise.”
However, many restaurant operators have already learned from previous crises, explains Swanson from Berlin. “With the ongoing pandemic, many of us restaurateurs have found ways to work effectively in the most difficult of circumstances.” You have to rethink concepts and not cling to the past. “We live in a different, new world with challenges that we have to adapt to.”
No price increase
That’s why they don’t want to raise the prices on the menu at “faelt”, explains the restaurateur. The increased food prices are due to the concept and the way the food is prepared restaurants no problem. The kitchen largely avoids fish and meat and cooks almost 90 percent only with vegetables. Eleven courses are currently available there for 126 euros. In order to be able to keep the price, “but creativity is also simply required – and not just since the energy crisis,” explains Swanson.
In the star restaurant “Reber’s Pflug” in Baden-Württemberg, the federal state with the most Michelin star restaurants, the prices on the menu recently had to be raised, says an employee. The decision was due to the current economic situation. Six courses now cost 148 euros there.
In Frankfurt’s “Seven Swans” too, high energy costs made it necessary to increase menu prices, Saward explains. “Since our kitchen is based on home cultivation and the procurement of natural resources, the food prices don’t affect us that much.” 15 courses are currently available there for 159 euros, up until two years ago it was 129 euros.
“Since we have always bought very high-quality and sustainable products, above all regionally, the price increases in this area are not so immense,” explains Markus Pape, head chef at the “Meisenheimer Hof” in Meisenheim, Rhineland-Palatinate. Nevertheless, the high energy and food costs made themselves felt there as well. You have to keep an eye on the calculations of the courts. An eight-course tasting menu currently costs 129 euros in the restaurant, and a vegetarian six-course menu is available for 99 euros.
Instead of demanding more money from guests, savings measures are taken – keyword “shrinkflation”. “In order to keep the prices stable, we always reconsider portion sizes and adjust them here,” explains Pape. During the corona pandemic, the top restaurateurs also worked out other options to earn money, such as with takeaway food or cooking boxes. “I think these concepts are already in the drawers of many colleagues, so that we can also put together suitable offers here.”
The Dehoga restaurant association also assumes that top restaurants will primarily attract visitors with new offers during the crisis. Real connoisseurs would then certainly accept these despite the higher prices, says general manager Ingrid Hartges. “Gourmets and connoisseurs expect high quality and a great atmosphere.” The community of fans of fine dining is still willing to pay for it. After months of lockdown due to the corona pandemic, many guests were happy to be able to eat out again and be pampered.
The Alt Wyk looks to the future with similar optimism: “Basically, we think that the guests don’t want to do without luxury at the level of top gastronomy.”