High Performance Chef – Episode 5: Daniel Gottschlich

A Detour to Becoming a Star Chef

The versatile two-star chef and passionate drummer Daniel Gottschlich invites us into his restaurant, Ox & Klee, in Cologne. Embark on a journey through the six tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, umami, and fat.

It's an ordinary Thursday morning in a not-so-ordinary city, one in which there are five seasons instead of four and the post-work brews come in tiny glasses. Where else could we be but Cologne, host of the fifth episode of our "High Performance Chef" series, a collaboration between AMG and the MICHELIN Guide. From afar we can see the Kranhäuser (crane houses), which sit on the west bank of the Rhine just past the famous Chocolate Museum. They tower gracefully above the ground. It is quiet. Suddenly, the silence is broken by thuds of bass. It is the engine of a Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S 4Matic+ [combined fuel economy: 12.3 - 12.1 l/100 km | combined CO₂ combined: 280 - 277 g/km | rolling down Hafenstraße. It stops in front of one of the gigantic buildings. While the sun fights its way through the low-hanging clouds above, Daniel Gottschlich steps out of the vehicle and unlocks the door to his restaurant, Ox & Klee. So begins a new day at the "office" for the 2-star chef and his team.

Star chef Daniel Gottschlich
Star chef Daniel Gottschlich

"I'm chaotic, creative and uncompromising in pursuing my vision," says Gottschlich as he enters his restaurant. He may not be here today had he followed his original career path. Gottschlich didn't start out working the stove next to a famed restaurant maestro, but at a workbench during his training as an electronic systems technician. The then 17-year-old quickly realized that he was on the wrong route – and changed his destination. Thereafter he decided to pursue his great passion: Cooking. In 2003, he joined the Grand Hotel Petersberg in Königswinter, where he successfully completed his apprenticeship. "Although I wasted quite a bit of time, my real goal of becoming a chef became increasingly clear. That gave me the confidence to follow my intuition," says the top chef today.

Brimming with belief in himself, Gottschlich opened his own restaurant, Ox & Klee, in 2010, initially in Cologne's city center. "I always wanted to be my own boss so I have the freedom to decide what I want to do," Gottschlich says. "It gives you a chance to forge your own path and discover your personal cooking style."

From then on, it was up, up, and away for the restaurant, which is named after a Spanish proverb that Gottschlich discovered serendipitously: "One ox finding clover feeds the whole herd." "Some people are trained to be high-performance chefs. I have a different story, but the MICHELIN stars found me anyway," Gottschlich says. He received his first in 2015. Hungry for more and with a great deal of conviction, he decided, despite naysayers, to move to the Rheinauhafen, which was still a construction site, and into the middle of the three crane houses. Ox & Klee sits pretty in this unparalleled spot to this day.

Mercedes-AMG GLC mirrored in a pane of glass
Mercedes-AMG GLC mirrored in a pane of glass

Gottschlich's entrepreneurial spirit paid off: Since 2019, a second star has adorned the wall of the spacious second-floor kitchen. It looks out over the Rhine and invites guests dining at the chef's table to get a glimpse of where the magic happens.

Gottschlich praises his team’s organic energy. Everyone knows exactly what they have to do, like a well-oiled machine. The movements in his kitchen are cunning and precise. "My team is an important part of the performance. Everyone has to give their best to get the engine going." A smile flashes across his face. He adds: "It's exactly how I imagine the engineers at AMG working together. Everyone has to be fully committed to build a high-performance engine!"

Star chef Daniel Gottschlich
Star chef Daniel Gottschlich

Gottschlich constantly reinvents his cuisine. For him, there is no such thing as standing still. Two years ago, he had an innovative idea: "One day, the six tastes came to mind: umami, sweet, sour, salty and bitter. Plus fat. Fat is very important, especially in cooking. It gives all dishes that certain something. Whether mayonnaise, brioche, hollandaise, or a hearty jus, fat makes everything fresher, crunchier, and more flavorful."

With this in mind, Gottschlich developed a holistic concept around which his restaurant is built. At its core is a surprise menu, "Experience Taste," which takes guests on a culinary journey through the world of the six taste qualities. Menus à la carte, on the other hand, have been axed from Ox & Klee’s rotation. "The MICHELIN stars guarantee that diners can trust us," Gottschlich says. Night after night, he and his team reward that trust. The goal remains the same: to deliver a perfect performance on and around the plate. "As a child, visiting a restaurant felt like going to a theme park," Gottschlich says. "I always wanted to be the chef of an extraordinary restaurant, with crazy dishes, standout service, and tantalizing menus."

One of his most extraordinary concoctions is the "rainbow trout". It begins with a pickled potato, melted as a "sour" component inside a glass pineapple, followed by a thin slice of the fruit itself, for sweetness, topped by a cap of lardo foam – the fat – on which the main component, the rainbow trout, settles. Smoked caviar rests like pearls on the fish, giving the dish a touch of salt. Gottschlich then uses kitchen tweezers to personally position a bitter dandelion and decorates the pineapple crown with a Stilton cracker for umami. Et voilà: perfection.

Recipe download

Exclusively for AMG Private Lounge members: Download Daniel Gottschlich's "Crispy Dry Aged Beef Sandwich" and "Oyster with Caviar, Leek and Coffee" recipes. Have fun in the kitchen!

Served dish
Served dish

As day gives way to evening and one light after another goes out at Ox & Klee, Gottschlich slips on his leather jacket, exits the restaurant, and climbs back into the Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S 4Matic+. The bass kicks in again and the harbor slowly disappears from the rear-view mirrors. We pass the Chocolate Museum and jet through the Rhine Bank Tunnel, which bathes the vehicle in a red-orange glow. Gottschlich's mind is already on the next destination and his second passion, playing the drums, which he loves at least as much as cooking. It allows him to find both balance and inspiration. Together with his friend, the photographer Dimi Katsavaris, he has been making music in various projects for over a decade.

Currently he is a session drummer for Katsavaris' new solo project, "Wonderful Bones". "Playing drums is all about speed, precision, and passion," the chef tells us. Qualities with which every AMG fan can identify. Daniel Gottschlich has ridden this combination to the upper echelon of chefs in Germany. He looks back on an impressive trajectory that began with a chaotic detour and led to two MICHELIN stars. But there’s no resting on laurels – Gottschlich wants more. When asked about his future, he confidently replies, "I'm still too chaotic to become a great businessman – or maybe that's the play!"

Sternekoch Jan Tournier beim kochen.

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Sterneköchin Dalad Kambhu.

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