Nelson Müller is one of the hottest up-and-coming talents on the gastronomy scene. With one Michelin star, his own cooking shows and multiple book publications under his belt, he’s always on the go. The 40-year-old chef runs two restaurants in Essen, one of which is distinguished with a Michelin star. He appears as a TV chef for ZDF and films cooking programs and documen-taries.

The professional chef even posed for famous portrait photographer Matthias Ziegler for the new JOOP! JEANS summer collection. In this culinary interview, Nelson Müller offers fascinating insights into his passions and reveals his favourite recipe for a summer menu.

A conversation with the star chef Nelson
Müller, and what inspires his cooking

JOOP!: A Michelin star, your own cooking shows, several book publications – you have already achieved a lot in life. What has been the overall highlight, the best moment of your life so far?​ 

Nelson: The best and most defining experience was definitely when I was awarded a Michelin star in 2011. When my team and I found out, we could hardly stop the tears from rolling down our faces – we were so thrilled by the news.

 

JOOP!: What is your recipe for success? What do you need in order to become a top chef?

Nelson: To become a top chef, you need the necessary craftsmanship, a good helping of passion and emotion and, of course, lots of disci-pline and stamina. It’s obviously also an advantage when you have encouragement and support and good teachers.

 

JOOP!: How did you get into cooking?​

Nelson: My love for cooking began in my childhood, when I spent a lot of time at my aunt’s farm where my father grew up. The farm had its own butcher shop, catering and schnapps distillery. This holistic operation not only inspired me, but also instilled in me a feeling of home and brought me closer to the cooking profession at a very early age. I thought it was great to have the opportunity to be a host while still having such close links to lots of other professions, such as farmer, butcher and baker. That really fascinated me.

"We try to tell a story
through every dish we create"

JOOP!: How would you describe your cooking style? 

Nelson: My style of cooking is definitely shaped by my past and childhood. I grew up in Germany and celebrate German cuisine. I do also love to have a peek in the pots of our neighbours, such as the French and Italians, who have such great food cultures. Now and again, I like to take inspiration from fusion cuisine and Far-Eastern cooking with its wonderful spices.

 

JOOP!: Are there any unique features in your cuisine?

Nelson: The unique thing about my cuisine might be the way in which we cook. We try to tell a story through every dish we create in order to offer our guests an emotional experience. We try to evoke child-hood memories or touch our guests on another emotional level. On the one hand, this is achieved through the dish itself and, on the other, through its corresponding presentation and name.

 

JOOP!: Where do you get the inspiration for your recipes?

Nelson: I find recipe inspiration in many places. Above all, I am inspired by the seasons and seasonal produce, the spirit of the times and also really mundane, everyday things. When developing a recipe, lots of different ideas from the entire team are incorporated. This gives us so many amazing opportunities to really get creative. Of course, technical expertise and a trove of recipes that we have built up over several years form the necessary basis.

"The way to the heart is not just through
the stomach - but also through music."

JOOP!: You’re often on the go and travel to many different countries. Are culinary impressions of such cultures reflected in your recipes?  

Nelson: Especially for my ZDF program, I take many trips to the countries of origin of diverse products, and these obviously inspire me to cook new dishes.

 

JOOP!: You’ve had the restaurant “Schote” in Essen under your wing since 2009, and two years later it was awarded a Michelin star. In 2014, you opened another restaurant. What distinguishes both restaurants?

Nelson: Schote is a gourmet restaurant where we work to extremely dis-cerni ng standards. Müllers is more of a combination of a brasserie and market hall food – guests can buy products and take them home.

 

JOOP!: Your professional chef’s jacket is an indispensable part of your uniform in the kitchen. What do you like to wear in your free time?

Nelson: I’ve actually got two looks that I love to wear in my free time. I either go sporty and urban – maybe a bit skater or hipster, like a mix of hip hop and skate fashion, or I go for something a bit rockier, a bit more adult with jeans, Chelsea boots, a leather jacket, checked shirts, cool shirts, open shirts and a bit of jewellery. Those are the two looks I like to wear most.

JOOP!: The slogan for the JOOP! summer collection “A taste of life” is in-spired by the sensual pleasures of the season. How do fashion and cooking go together for you?  

Nelson: For me, fashion and cooking go really well together, since a chef also has to have an understanding of aesthetics, style, shapes, fabrics, materials and colours. All the chefs I know like to dress stylishly.

 

JOOP!: What is your favourite piece in the new JOOP! summer collection?

Nelson: The JOOP! biker-style leather jacket in anthracite is my hands-down favourite.

 

JOOP!: You’ve been singing in the soul band “Benny & Joyce” for a few years and you regularly perform with them. What’s been your biggest gig to date?

Nelson: I make most of my music with “Benny & Joyce”, but also with the Jim Rockfort Band. I’ve done many concerts with both groups. One of my biggest highlights was performing with PUR on their stadium tour. That was such a great experience and a real honour to be a part of.

"For me, music and cooking
are two fantastic things"

JOOP!: Do you also write your own songs? 

Nelson: I do write my own songs and release them at regular intervals. I’ve already had the honour of being included on a couple of famous samples.

 

JOOP!: Music and cooking are two qualities that certainly go well together. Do you ever sing while standing at the stove?

Nelson: For me, music and cooking are two fantastic things that I really love, but when I’m in the kitchen, I don’t sing. It might happen on a show, but generally speaking, each activity has its own stage that requires my full attention.

 

JOOP!: What’s your favourite recipe for a dinner with friends?

Nelson: I think summer is a great time for barbecuing with friends. Tasty salads, fresh melon, a good piece of ham, some grilled vegetables and high-quality meat. A warm summer evening with friends com-bined with great food is the perfect recipe for amazing experiences that will stay with you for a long time to come.

A taste of Life

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