EIt couldn’t have been otherwise, because he can’t help but always want the best and strive for the highest, unconditionally, uncompromisingly, rigorously. When Jan Hartwig moved from the Wolfsburg three-star hotel “Aqua” to the “Atelier” in the Bayerischer Hof in Munich in 2014, he cooked like a future three-star chef from day one – and was actually awarded the maximum rating in 2017.
When he set up his own restaurant in Munich’s museum district in October 2022, it wasn’t three years, but only six months before he was called back to the Olympus of kitchen gods: since Tuesday, Jan Hartwig has once again been one of the ten best chefs Germany and among the few hundred three-star chefs worldwide who, according to the definition of the Michelin Guide, can feel themselves to be the absolute world leaders in their field.
Formative years at Sven Elverfeld
The life and career path of this 40-year-old chef has had a straightforwardness and consistency that only people without the slightest doubt about their talent and purpose can claim. Hartwig’s parents had a middle-class inn near Braunschweig, but they loved the highest art of cooking beyond measure and happily spent their savings on visits to the most famous restaurants in Germany.
The son learned early on that there is hardly anything more beautiful than excellent food, and so his path led him to the crème de la crème of German chefs after an apprenticeship in the best restaurant in Braunschweig and a minor episode at a dinner show. He stood at the stove with Klaus Erfort in Saarbrücken and Christian Jürgens in Wernberg-Köblitz, and then spent seven formative years with Sven Elverfeld in the “Aqua” in Wolfsburg, most recently as his sous-chef – until the teacher selflessly encouraged his master student, his own brigade to lead and to do the same.
It is just as logical that Jan Hartwig fulfilled his dream of opening his own restaurant last October with the “Jan”. And the fact that it has the same name has nothing to do with vanity, but with honesty, authenticity and devotion. Every guest can see how he is putting the finishing touches on the plates at the pass, every passer-by has a view of the kitchen through large windows from the street, in which no alchemical witchcraft with all kinds of magic devices is prepared, but the best kitchen craftsmanship is celebrated.
It is a highly concentrated juggling, often with a dozen different flavors on a single plate, an extremely clever arranging of contrasting tastes into amazing harmonies – be it trout from Upper Bavaria with lentils, whey, caviar, mushrooms and rapeseed oil or veal tartare from Piedmont Rice milk, radish, lime, sake, miso, parmesan and kohlrabi. Anyone who cooks so confidently, so wisely, so profoundly at the age of forty has earned nothing less than the third Michelin star.