Sven Elverfeld, chef patron of the restaurant Aqua (Wolfsburg, Germany)

Sven Elverfeld. Photo: Markus Höhn

Sven Elverfeld. Photo: Markus Höhn

“Cooking is for my freedom to passionately express my thoughts and memories in an emotional statement.” says chef Sven Elverfeld, who started his career as a confectioner and later became the chef patron of the three Michelin-starred restaurants. His cooking is storytelling through flavours, textures and forms. His dishes have often a very strong emotional impact which talks about his personal experiences, deeply rooted in his life and in the German tradition. Sven is a passionate deconstructivist and re-inventor of ‘plain’ cuisine, located within Volkswagen’s Autostadt attraction, in a dinner space enriched with a beautiful art collection which also includes some original works by famed US photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. His dishes beautifully incorporate the perfection of the three Michelin-starred restaurant in which desserts are a special highlight including stunning technical creations that aren’t necessarily what they first seem to be. Aqua also gained great attention outside the German borders, being listed at an excellent 33rd place on the World’s 50 best restaurants list in 2015.

What does chocolate mean for you?

For me, chocolate is very sensual and calming. It is fun and you can be very creative with it.

Spruce tips, chocolate, mushrooms, tonic and coconut. Photo: Markus Höhn

Spruce tips, chocolate, mushrooms, tonic and coconut. Photo: Markus Höhn

Why have you chosen this dessert? What is in your opinion so special about it?

It was the favorite dessert of all in the last year to me and my Pastry Chef Henning Hartwig. It is very special because of the play between the different flavors and textures.

Please describe your dessert – tell us please about the flavours, temperatures and textures that describe this dessert.

It is a complex dessert with more than 10 components which harmonize but also keep it exciting. We present the variety of the spruce tips by using different techniques to prepare it and produce different textures. Different ways of preparation give different flavours. The lovely bitterness of the Cacao Barry Venezuela Origin chocolate, the earthy taste of the mushrooms and the flavour of the coconut present an aroma basis to us. This is softened by the bitterness of the tonic and the different tastes and temperatures of the spruce sprouts.

What has inspired you to create it? How was it born?

Henning and me love walking through the forest in springtime when the smell of the different conifer trees comes up to your nose. This was the reason why we wanted to do something with spruce tips. We sat together in a quiet corner in the restaurant and wrote down our ideas about different combinations with them. Afterwards we contacted our specialized supplier and ordered a big amount of freshly collected spruce tips. And then we started to create, step by step, idea by idea, until we both loved it.

Spruce tips, chocolate, mushrooms, tonic and coconut. Photo: Markus Höhn

Does it require any special technique?

The most important and also the hardest thing was to get an authentic taste out of the spruce tips, because the syrup is the basis of the sorbet, the filling of the chocolate spruce cone and the ganache. That means we represent one component in three different textures and processing types. The result is that the spruce tips and the chocolate are the main flavours in that dish.

What was the special challenge with it?

The challenge was to combine the many different aromas in a way that they harmonize together. To balance the components so they complement each other and do not work against each other. We wanted to create a memorable combination.

Any final message for our readers?

Never think about limits. Just try out how far you can go!