“Taku” is a Japanese word meaning “place of hospitality”. Chef de Cuisine since 2012, Mirko Gaul is responsible for creative, Asian fusion cuisine at the hotel’s taku restaurant. Since 2012 he was presented with a Michelin star every year.
The Excelsior Hotel has a great history and is still family-run to date. What is the secret behind the continuing success and attractivity?
The heart of the hotel are the 195 staff members – their cordiality and hospitality. As a Grand Hotel across from the Cologne Cathedral and the only “Leading Hotel of the World” in Cologne, we are offering our guests stylish comfort and the most modern of standards for over 150 years. As a result of our long tradition, we are personally attached to the hotel and the guests – this is what provides for the special atmosphere at the Excelsior Hotel Ernst.
How does one come up with the idea of offering premium gastronomy with an Eastern-Asian flair in Cologne? What characterizes top-class Eastern-Asian cuisine, and what special luxury can guests most look forward to?
My cuisine is characterized by an authentic aroma, freshness you can taste, and high product quality. For me, having the option to buy only the best food means luxury. My guests can look forward to getting products served on a plate in a way they have likely never seen before.
Most Western Europeans are not familiar with the Eastern-Asian cuisine, with its philosophy and variety. Now, you are even offering cooking classes for those interested in the art. What is the greatest challenge here?
I love my cooking classes: This is my chance to get to know our guests better and to foster their culinary interest. My cooking classes are a tasty get-together around our stove where we show the guests hands-on how they can cook a little feast for themselves. The greatest challenge is definitely making sure all guests have the same level of knowledge at the end, even those without much experience at all.
Where in Cologne and the surrounding area is best to relax?
I like to go out eating with my wife. Cologne is home to many excellent restaurants and I get to keep in touch with my colleagues. Sometimes it’s really difficult to choose where to go. We always enjoy stopping by the Brauhaus Schreckenskammer – absolutely delicious, and pleasantly palatable – including the best “Kölsch” (beer) in Cologne.
What’s a perfect day at the hotel like?
My perfect day already starts at home with a cup of coffee. At the hotel, we begin with a team meeting to talk through the day. After that, we start preparations and share lunch. After lunch service, we have 3 hours of free time. At 6 p.m., we have a service meeting to prepare for dinner: Do we have guests with special dietary preferences? Are there any specials? Are any regulars coming? Of course, I am especially happy when the restaurant is booked right down to the last seat. Evenings, I always try to have talked to each guest at least once – and any positive feedback is the icing on the cake!