First and foremost, it’s all about content

Frank Buchholz in conversation with Thomas Edelmann

Frank Buchholz is a chef, father and author. He has been running Restaurant Buchholz in Mainz-Gonsenheim since 2005, where the philosophy is that eating should be “like you are eating with friends: uncomplicated yet with every attention to detail, with all the quality and freshness that comes with home-made food”. His concept has received wide recognition: in 2008, the restaurant received 3F in “Feinschmecker” magazine, 16 points from the French restaurant guide Gault Millau and the first Michelin star in Mainz. In addition to that, Frank Buchholz runs cookery schools in Mainz and Unna. Buchholz tested the concept of WATER ZONES for Dornbracht.

Thomas Edelmann: Mr Buchholz, fewer and fewer people are cooking these days, but those who are more interested in quality than ever before…
Frank Buchholz:… yes, that’s true.

T.E.: What can these enthusiasts learn from professional chefs when it comes to kitchen fittings?
F.B.: They can learn from us that efficiency in the kitchen plays an important part. The quality of the products, the tools we use to work is crucial; the same goes for the quality of the products we use to cook. I like to be in a kitchen that works for me. I have to adjust to my guests’ needs every day; I have to think about the things that I want to offer and prepare. That is why I want the environment in which all of that takes place to be as durable as possible. I would preferably like my pots and knives to last me a lifetime, and if this were also the case for the fittings, I would be very happy.

T.E.: How do you choose your tools?
F.B.: I have to take a good look at the experts and must trust the people who provide me with demonstrations and recommendations. Just like people coming to us have a certain confidence that we shall only be using the best products. So, I expect experts on fittings to be presenting me with the best products.

T.E.: What significance do different water qualities have for the cooking process?
F.B.: Water quality is very important. The purer the water, the better the food tastes and also the quicker it cooks. It contains more vitamins and colour, looks better and also retains its nutritional value.

T.E.: How do you use water in your kitchen?
F.B.: Just like everyone else: we use water for washing, cleaning and cooking. People don’t always realise that in cooking, water is just as important as heat.

T.E.: Hygiene rules in catering are much more stringent than in the home …
F.B.: The legal regulations are primarily aimed at those who do not regulate themselves. Top chefs have hygiene demands that far exceed any legal standards. Hygiene is absolutely essential in the kitchen. For example, cleaning a fish or washing a salad must be done with the utmost care.

T.E.: You have visited the Dornbracht workshop kitchen in Iserlohn and have extensively tested theWATER ZONES concept.What were your impressions?
F.B.: For me, the most important thing in the kitchen is functionality; design comes after that. Only those people who work intensively on function can design products for everyday use. I was impressed by the entire approach. The drinking water dispenser in the kitchen: in other cultural groups, it is taken for granted. I think the concept is very appropriate and modern. Many people can take a leaf out of their book, by not just looking at what we already have in Germany but also at what things are available internationally that we should be able to take for granted. People need to be made aware that the time is right for these kinds of changes.You can achieve that for example, by initially inspiring practically-orientated people, such as chefs like us.

T.E.: What advantages do the WATER ZONES offer the committed cook?
F.B.: It’s all about the issues that relate to cooking, even though they usually receive less attention: such as, what preparations must I make, and what needs doing afterwards? As there are some quite practical advantages. Having more water supply points at your disposal makes many things a lot easier. I have fewer limitations on what I am doing. I can work more flexibly, I can prepare myself better and, last but not least, it is much more hygienic.

T.E.: What impact does the functional division of water supply points in PREPARING, COOKING and CLEANING have on the cooking process?
F.B.: You should normally have three water supply points and basins in the kitchen, as is demonstrated with theWATER ZONES principle, even though, presumably for reasons of space, it is not possible for everyone to implement that. One for washing things that I want to prepare, one by the cooker that I can use to fill my pans and another that I can use to wash my pans and other implements. Even if I only have two basins, work runs a lot more smoothly.

T.E.: How will the domestic kitchen change in future?
F.B.: From a design point of view, I don’t see many major changes. The driving force should be functionality. Social changes have meant that we are now taking the kitchen more seriously as a living space. That’s good. Architects and kitchen planners have understood that kitchens are the new living rooms. However in future, it will be more about the kitchen becoming a functional living room. Primarily it is a matter of content rather than form. In other words, not only does the kitchen layout need to look good, it also needs to work really well. The domestic kitchen is both a living space and a working space.

T.E.: What technical and structural changes would you like to see?
F.B.: The need for a waste concept is one example. How do I deal with waste packaging? The space I have available for it is not sufficient. We also need to see improvements with regard to organic kitchen waste. In America they have waste disposal units as standard. That’s the kind of functionality that makes sense. Another example: extractors should not just extract the air but also bring in fresh air. Many ideas will come from professional kitchens. But that isn’t the point: generally, manufacturers should conduct more detailed investigations at grass roots level. Not only with chefs like me, but also with people who have to organise entire families. Living with children raises other issues that need to be considered. For example: how do I get them involved, so that they learn at an early age how important and how wonderful it is to prepare good food?