Uwe Boll once challenged critics of his films to a boxing match. No fights broke out last night (October 20) at Bauhaus, the restaurant he owns, where he challenged Michelin-star chef Stefan Hartmann to a sauerbraten cook-off.
That’s because they were both winners: in a blind tasting, an “expert” panel of judges gave top nods to Bauhaus executive chef Hartmann, while Boll won the most votes from the 60-or-so diners.
Sauerbraten is a quintessential German dish, a roast marinated in vinegar, red wine, and spices for several days. Every region in the country has its own distinct style, and since Hartmann was born in Uelzen and Boll in Cologne, they both have very different recipes and techniques.
The expert judges consisted of the Globe and Mail’s Alexandra Gill; Enotecca Wineries and Resorts’ Rasoul Salehi, managing partner of Oliver’s Le Vieux Pin winery; and myself. Sort of scientifically, we broke down the meal into five categories: presentation, consistency of sauce, texture of meat, side dishes, and overall flavour.
While Boll’s bright sauce trumped Hartmann’s, which was glossy but slightly burnt, it didn’t have the desired consistency, rather being a little runny. Boll offered a bland dumpling to soak up the flavourful sauce as well as some fabulous fried red cabbage; meanwhile, Hartmann served up a carrot and potato purée that was so scrumptious it was gone from most people’s plates in an instant.
Overall, the chef’s version came out as more tender and toothsome, and better presented than Boll’s, as far as the three of us were concerned, earning Hartmann a fancy framed certificate that he’s sure to hang in his kitchen with pride. (Not.) Boll walked away with a medal and tiny trophy from Army & Navy.
Guests were also treated to other courses that Hartmann created: an amuse bouche of white-bean puree, white-bean foam, Arctic char, and Kartoffelkroketten (potato croquettes); and a silken pumpkin soup with pumpkin-seed oil and smoked ling cod. Desert was a seductive chocolate mousse, chocolate crumble, caramel cream, and aromatic tonka-bean ice cream. Hartmann’s culinary chops are outstanding.
No punches were thrown.