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Top Chef: Anton Michel

Twice a month, we shine a spotlight on our favourite chefs in Berlin. This week: Anton Michel, the wunderkind head chef of Moabit's "New London Cuisine" addition Richwater & Mitchell.

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Photo by Marie Yako

Moabit is stepping up its gastro-game with recent addition Richwater & Mitchell, a contemporary British eatery ran by Frankfurt-born German-Brit Anton Michel. Despite his age, Richwater & Mitchell’s 24-year-old head chef is no novice. In 2014 he charmed Berliners with the hit pop-up Anton Kocht, serving modern German cuisine in Schöneberg’s Winterfeldtplatz, and in January Richwater & Mitchell opened its doors. He may have Anglicised his surname to match the food, but it’s still all Anton (Richwater refers to his business partner). We talked to Michel about the British food revolution, misguided vegans and the infamous Scotch Egg.

What kind of food do you cook?

We cook a modern take on British food, taking inspiration from my time in England and my grandparents, and bring it to life with local produce here in Berlin. We call it “New London Cuisine”. In the past 20 years there’s been a revolution in England, and now food’s really held to a higher standard there than here in Germany.

What is your most popular item?

Our most popular dish by far is the Scotch Egg – it’s a soft-boiled egg wrapped in sausage meat, breaded and deep fried, and then served with a bit of salad. It was mentioned in a couple of newspapers, which is why people order it, but it’s good and probably going to stay permanently on the menu.

What food trend do you hate the most?

I don’t hate any food trend. Some things I find better, some things I ignore. The last thing I ignored was probably vegan cooking. I do enjoy cooking with vegetables a lot, and we always make sure there’s always a vegetarian dish on the menu, but I just think a lot of the reasons behind veganism are misguided – I mean trying to replace meat with stuff like tofu, which is made from soy planted in a rainforest? Meat isn’t a bad thing, it’s just the selection of meat you choose to eat that’s important.

A cooking tip?

Try out new stuff, and don’t feel like you’re forced to stick to a recipe – sometimes the best things come from experimenting and replacing ingredients. This one time we had Jerusalem artichoke on the menu, but didn’t have enough time to peel them so we ended up just scrubbing them and puréeing them with the skins on – it turned out really nice.

A dining tip (other than your own restaurant)?

At the moment, Panama in Schöneberg, it’s got a really nice relaxed atmosphere and they serve clean, modern food. And Tulus Lotrek in Kreuzberg.

The best thing about being a chef in a restaurant in Berlin?

Well one great thing is that you can get started on a relatively small budget, and just go for it, and there are a lot of people who are interested.

…and the worst?

Nothing that would be dissimilar from any other place. I can’t really complain about the guests – they’re all really open-minded, which is great.