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Top Chef: Zeb Flavell

The chef behind the burgers at the cosy O61 in Prenzlauer Berg tells us about the continuing evolution of the restaurant and bar's menu and his life behind the grill.

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Kate Richards

Australian native and recent Berlin transplant Zeb Flavell has been head chef at the American-style bar and grill O61 since it opened in Prenzlauer Berg in December 2015. After an electrical fire shut the restaurant down for a few months, it re-opened its doors in May with a new, more international menu, though its main draw remains its hefty gourmet burgers. O61 has a cosy, friendly atmosphere: the fireplace and comfy couches will make it a must for the long winter ahead, whether you want a fresh, hearty meal after taking a swim at the newly opened Stadtbad Oderberger Straße next door or just want to relax with a and well mixed drink fireside.

What kind of food do you cook?

It’s a bit of a multi-national kitchen at the moment, a bit of modern European fusion. It was originally designed as an American kitchen but burger restaurants are a bit overdone in Berlin so we got a chance to expand a bit. At the moment we are aiming at a multinational kitchen with a modern focus – like chicken breast with a red wine jus served with kale we are planning some wintery stuff like duck with braised cabbage and so on. We also serve fish and a pasta of the day –  It’s basically a market bistro. 

What is your most popular item?

I hate to say it, but it’s probably the burger. A lot of people come back for the burger. I think it’s the quality of the meat – it’s imported from America from Creekstone Farms, some of the best meat you can get. We have four standard burgers but with the beef burger you can order all kinds of extras: mushrooms, blue cheese, goat cheese, feta cheese, avocado or bacon… But I think the pasta is also working very well. 

What food trend do you hate the most?

All of them, to be honest. The one I really picked up on is the whole Paleo diet. Eating food that hasn’t been processed, essentially. It’s fair enough, it is a healthy diet, but the fact is that most people jump on the bandwagon and then six months later they change their minds.

A cooking tip?

Fresh produce is always the best. And always cook what you know. If you know what tastes good to you, then you should stick to it. If you want to try something new, make sure you experiment a few times. If it’s the first time you’re making it there’s a good chance it’s not going to turn out the way you expected. 

A dining tip?

Frau Mittenmang in Prenzlauer Berg. It’s just up the road from here. It’s a very nice, cosy place; it has a great atmosphere. The food is good quality and it’s well priced. It’s what you want! It’s not fine dining, but a more relaxed kind of casual fine dining.

What’s the best thing about being head chef at a restaurant in Berlin?

My favourite part about this job at the moment is the team I’m working with. And I think Berlin attracts a lot of cool young people, so you’re almost bound to meet interesting people. 

…and the worst?

Stress! It’s really stressful to find the right chef job. There are so many opportunities available in Berlin and that means that you have so many to choose from. To find a good team, a good restaurant, it’s like searching for gold. I think I found just that.