Like many chefs who’ve become celebrities thanks to a boom of cooking shows on German TV, Cornelia Poletto finds herself in a country that loves its food discounters, such as Aldi and Lidl, but at the same time is home to a never-ending succession of food trends.
Ms. Poletto, who comes from a family of doctors and pharmacists, says she was far too lazy to make it to university. She had no desire to be a receptionist in a doctor’s office, so the restaurant business seemed to be a logical choice, especially since she had enjoyed cooking and baking from an early age. Her early forays included a pheasant, cooked according to the recipe of famed Austrian chef Eckart Witzigmann. “The bird was as dry as a fart, but the sauce was magnificent,” Ms. Poletto says.
Television has changed the perception of award-winning chefs radically, Ms. Poletto says. Fifteen years ago a female chef would have been defined by the image of a cold larder cook, the restaurant employee responsible for cold dishes such as salads. “I wouldn’t have dared to talk about my job in front of a large audience, much less in high heels,” Ms. Poletto says.
Since then, German celebrity television-chefs such as Tim Mälzer, Steffen Henssler and Frank Rosin and their shows have influenced the reality of the profession, Ms.Poletto says. “Previously only the product, the cooking, was relevant,” Poletto says. “Today guests want to be entertained.” A Michelin-starred chef has to stop by guests’ tables and chat at least once an evening, and today’s chefs are confronted with an enormous amount of management tasks, according to Ms. Poletto.