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Schuhbeck, the Sellout

10 Dec

First of all, last night we saw the movie “Carnage”: the new Roman Polanski film about two couples that have come together to discuss how to deal with the fact that one of their sons bashed the other with a stick. A short but fabulous film, I don’t think I have laughed and cringed so much at a movie in years. It’s an adapted theater piece, and you can tell it is, but just like “My Dinner with Andre” from so many years back, it simply doesn’t matter. It was superb.

And the reason I mention this movie at all is because we went to see it last night with friends after work at 8 pm – leaving Nicole and I (the wives who picked up the tickets for the husbands who zoomed in a few moments before the movie started) some time to grab a bite to eat right before walking into the theater.

Before I explain further, have a look at the commercial below and to see what McDonalds is promoting on television these days.

(Predictable jokes – the couple ordering are excited and overwhelmed that a fine chef is serving them at McDonalds, Schuhbeck makes a joke about the Coke being “a 2011 vintage,” the guy says he cannot possibly eat so much food at which point Uli Hoerneß replies that he’ll make it through the food – obviously because it is so delicious that the guy won’t be able to stop himself.)

I had never seen this commercial nor heard about the contents until last night, when Nicole explained to me that we could go to McDonalds to eat the “Schuhbeck burger.” Schuhbeck is one of the top chefs in Germany. He lives here in Munich. That’s him in the commercial in the chef togs. The other guy is the FC Bayern (Bavaria soccer league) president. The two of them are promoting the “Hüttengaudi” burgers. (Translated as “mountain hut fun” and referring to the food one eats at the little huts that dot the alps and where you can get a beer and some local hearty food to refresh you on your hike.) One of the burgers is a double cheeseburger with a local cheese and the other is a combination burger + sausages sandwich.

The "Hüttengaudi" burger

(Approximate box label translation: “These are the Allgäu Alm burger with Emmenthaler cheese from the Allgäu (region in Bavaria), and Schuhbeck’s fine double delight: a juicy beef burger and original Nürnburger roasted bratwurst sausages from Uli Hoerneß, “hut” cabbage, and a spicy tomato sauce with a chili-vanilla note. A very special pleasure.)

My ears perked up, I will admit, when I heard Schuhbeck was doing burgers at McDonalds. Nicole and I had a short but intense discussion about why in hell Schuhbeck would do something like this. I’m not a huge fan of his cooking style (generally solid but rather traditional food with strong German influence). But I am a huge fan of his spice shop here in Munich. In fact, there is a little plaza in the center of town here which he more or less owns – his restaurant, a spice shop, I think another place. Germans are not really into spices with their food, at least not to the extent that I am. But this guy has brought a beautiful collection here to Munich which I like to check out every now and then.

So I had to wonder why he would associate his name with McDonalds. Anyone know? The people who generally frequent McDonalds, and please excuse me for stereotyping, are not people who have a clue about good food/fine cuisine. So it certainly wasn’t to pull them in more frequently. Maybe extend the target group to include people who do know about Schuhbeck? Yeah, maybe. Because the result in fact was that I ate dinner at McDonalds last night out of curiosity. But why would Schuhbeck do it? Why associate your name with McDonalds? Maybe if you could do a truly GREAT burger, something really differentiated from the normal stuff they serve.

But they/he failed. The thing was dry and heavy. The meat was typical of McDonalds. Overcooked and grey. There were no vegetables on the burger – no lettuce or tomato to lighten it up a bit. No chili-vanilla tomato sauce in anything I ate. It was simply bad bad food. And it makes me want to not go back to his spice shop.

Nicole says she sees Schuhbeck drinking his coffee fairly often in the mornings because they frequent the same Starbucks near his restaurant. I think I need to head over there one morning soon and tell him how bad his hamburger is.

The Burger - looks really wonderful?

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