Interview with Michael Kempf

Michael Kempf has been chef de cuisine at the restaurant FACIL on Potsdamer Platz since 2003. During his very first year the Swabian cook already claimed his first Michelin star. 10 Years later he has been awarded his second.

Michael Kempf
Michael Kempf

What distinguishes one-star from two-star cuisine?
That’s difficult to say, it’s the palate that decides. I talk to Michelin once a year to find out when I was tested and where I stand. That’s how I knew that I had long since been under consideration as a candidate for the second star.

Have you ever spotted a test eater?
No, never, even though we were tested four times in 2013 alone.

Has your cooking changed?
It has become more purist, to the point, without frills. Four years ago things suddenly started clicking into place, and I put a lot of work into meals that often consist of just a few components. The focus is on the basic product – currently, for example, sea bass: it is simply fried until it gets a wonderful, crisp coat of scales. I also place great importance on vegetables and light, fresh sauces, for example made from vegetable juices.

How did you celebrate your second star?
It was crazy. The night before the announcement I ran into Michelin’s editor-inchief, Ralf Flinkenflügel, and cooking legend Eckart Witzigmann. The two wanted to eat at my place on the spur of the moment, but didn’t let on, except that they said I should attend the press conference the next day. After the official announcement I first called my wife – and celebrated that night with my team until the following morning.

Whose congratulations made you particularly happy?
Cooks and hoteliers from all over Germany called me up. I hadn’t expected that at all. What pleased me the most was the call from three-star cook Dieter Müller. He is my great role model as a human being and professionally. Two weeks later he even came to my restaurant for dinner.

Your wife cooks at home. Do you lend her a professional hand on occasion?
No, she is a fantastic hobby cook. Just sitting at the kitchen table with a glass of wine is the best relaxation for me.

Do you now want your third star?
For the time being I want to continue to forge ahead at full speed and see how I can develop my cooking further. But in five or six years, sure, the third star would be my goal.

The Michelin Guide is a hotel and restaurant guide that is published annually for various countries by the French tyre manufacturer Michelin. It appeared for the first time in 1900. The restaurant rating system uses three stars and is paid attention to around the globe. One star signifies “a very good restaurant in its category”, two stars “excellent cooking, worth a detour”, and three stars mean “exceptional cuisine and worth a special journey”.

FACIL in The Mandala Hotel
Potsdamer Straße 3, 10785 Berlin
Mondays to Fridays, lunch from 12 p.m., supper from 7 p.m.
Closed Saturdays and Sundays