Bonn Christian Sturm-Willms has been running the Bonn restaurant Yunico at the Kameha Hotel for eight years. During this time, the two-metre tall man has not only achieved a Michelin star, but also the Rising Star of the year in 2017.
Christian Sturm-Willms is probably what you would call a big bloke. Two metres is how the chef of Yunico, which was awarded a Michelin star five years ago for its mixture of French and Japanese cuisine, measures. Critics have judged that the culinary art on offer on the upper floor of the Kameha Grand Hotel is "full of finesse", and the chef's forearms are strong.
And the mere idea that the tall, native Brandenburg chef regularly travels to Thailand to teach young Asian chefs is something exhilarating. "It is not always easy to understand the English spoken in Asia. But the amazing thing about cooking is that you can get the essentials across with your hands and feet," says Sturm-Willms.
Sturm-Willms learned at the Kranz Park Hotel in Siegburg
The 32-year-old grew up in Siegburg. There he also studied, at the Kranz Park Hotel. He is no stranger to preparing a down-to-earth roast pork. It was the basis of the trade, he said, which he learned in Siegburg. Afterwards he moved on to restaurants on Rügen, Sylt and to Hintertux in Austria. Then he started at Kameha. Eight years ago, in his mid-twenties, he became chef at Yunico, which was previously called Yu Sushi Club. "The quality was good, but there would probably have been nothing to be gained under the name at a higher level of cooking," says Sturm-Willms, who is single and has no children. Before his time at the Bonner Bogen, he had no contact with Japanese cuisine. "If you'd told me 15 years ago that I'd one day cook Asian food, I'd have thought you were joking."
It was curiosity that drove him into this culinary adventure and the desire to skilfully combine European and Japanese food culture, "to link two worlds together," That is how Christian von Ahlefeld, who has been in charge of the Kameha since last autumn and for whom the Yunico is the culinary flagship for the hotel, describes it.
It was also the ambition of Sturm-Willms at the time to redesign the menu and restaurant to create a more orderly, straightforward ambience. Small, fine, high-priced. The Yunico has 35 seats.
Three years ago, Sturm-Willms was „Rising Star of the Year"
Sturm-Willms is one who can speak when asked and keep silent when it seems necessary. His team has played a major role in the success of the past years, emphasises the chef, who was named "Rising Star of the year" by the restaurant guide Gault-Millau three years ago. It is not Sturm-Willm's business to dominate and belittle the employees, which many a veteran chef boasts as a source of success. "Everyone should be satisfied. If the employees aren't, the guests won't be either." The team also includes two trainees. "I really enjoy working with them, because you can still shape them," says Sturm-Willms. In the company itself, as the top chef describes it, things are mostly quiet and concentrated. "Everyone knows how to cook broccoli. I don't have to explain it to anyone." Whether it's oysters from the Japanese island Hokkaidō or sea bass from the region: What's on the table at Yunico varies from day to day. It also depends on what fresh produce is available to Sturm-Willms. The speciality of the house is called Omakase. Translated from Japanese, this means something like: "I leave it up to you.“ Fitting for Sturm-Willms, the chef. The man who considers his job one of the best in the world.
(Original text: Philip König / Translation: Mareike Graepel)