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Four years ago Telse Bus founded the “Kochsalon” (cooking saloon) with two friends. The motivation to do this step, having not a lot of money in the pocket studying art at hamburgs “Hochschule fuer Bildende Kuenste” – university, was the fascination for cooking as an art form. Being not satisfied with making more “traditional art” like painting and sculpturing, cooking as a modern way of expression always fascinated her.

“It’s like that: you can take tons of food into a location, and everybody will take a part of it home in his stomacch and a memory of an unforgetable night in his head.” says Telse on this wednesday night. Especially this perishibleness is one aspect of her art that she’s still fascinated about. “The other arts were always so modern, sampling other materials like videos, photo stills and music, and I just thought that I could do the same with food which always has this antique image. I wanted to cook modern food and create a certain atmosphere around it and so make it a happening alltogether,” she explains. One thing she tried to avoid though was to come too close to the very calculating and commercial gastro events that maybe can serve good food, but it’s always for the masses and lacks of a certain personality.

To finance her project and being able to pay the bills for renovation and the purchase of new cooking equipment, she had the great idea to throw parties every saturday night in the just rented rooms of the “Kochsalon” and sell shares for 50$ each. In return, the buyers could eat for 60$. All shares sold out in a short time, so that the almost 7 month that it took to get the location working, didn’t cause too much financial trouble. This renovation resulted in a counter to sit at that surrounds the kitchen so that you feel kind of at home watching mommy cook.

This wednesdays menue:
-Celery-cream-soup with croutons
-Salad with fried pork-fillet-apple-burger and elder-chutney
-Mangold-timbale (=backed in a cup) with pumpkin-sweet-potatoe-filling on cream-vegetable -Artichoke-feta-cheese-ravioli on green pepper and leek
-Goat-cheese-saltimbocca (=some kind of roll) with noodles and green beans
-Salmon-fillet under dried cod-crust with braised cucumber and dill potatoes
-Spaghetti al arabiata
-Apple crumble with liquid cream

Being a frequent customer, one of the things that we were particularly interested in was how she manages to always have so unique and different but totally excellent meals on the menu. Although we couldn’t figure out a concept behind this, there is one. “We have always a vegetarian, a meat and a fish dish, a salad and a soup,” she says. At the beginning of each week they decide what kind of ingredients they like to buy for the 7 days. Then, every morning, Telse talks to the cook who is responsible for the cooking that day, and decisions are made what to make from the food bought. “It’s a little bit like cooking duel (a german TV show), we talk about the food, both of us making suggestions how to combine it the best and discuss as long as the menu needs to be perfect.”

Another aspect that plays an important role in creating the dishes are the different nationalities of the resident cooks swinging the pans. “It works like being a DJ,” she states, “We have different ingredients that we got to use for a week and try to find the best mix, like a DJ does on a night that he’s spinning.” Avoiding the same recipies that are on the menu every other week is one key point to Telse’s cooking philosophy. Although there are no returning receipies, there are certain days to structure the week. On every monday night a “food lottery” takes places here, during which the customers can write their favourite dish on a piece of paper. After that the papers are mixed together and drawn as long till everybody is happy with what will be cooked. Tuesday’s “pinchos day” when everything is served on sticks according to a spanish tradition is followed by wednesdays “home cooking”, where german food is reinvented. On thursday there’s an electro night, on which various local DJ’s spin the records at this St.Pauli joint. Music also accompanies the food on friday, when it’s time for “powerwoman-day”, but also male DJ’s are more than welcome. But probably the most interesting day at the “kochsalon” is saturday where a “cooking battle” of two of the best cooks takes place. Some combinations that come out of this unusual concept are for example austrian dumplings with peanut sauce and bacon. Besides this there’s a weekly art opening inside. Rounding up the week is the “los sabrosos latinos” (tasty latinos day) where mostly latin american food is served.

As you can see, there’s quiet a lot happening at the “Kochsalon”. In our opinion it’s concept to close the gap between gourmet cuisine and relaxed, layed-back atmosphere, totally worked out and it’s always a pleasure to have your dinner here.

Address: Bernhard-Nocht-Str, 95 Hamburg Sankt Pauli, German

Text and Photos: Daniel Goddemeyer and Andrew Sinn

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