Your Ambassador of Good Taste for the Cologne & Rhine-Erft region
Claudia Stern is qualified hotel manager and sommelier and has been engaged in the business of culinary pleasure for two decades now.
"Anything and everything can be delicious!"
Claudia Stern is qualified hotel manager and sommelier and has been engaged in the business of culinary pleasure for two decades now. Her restaurant in Cologne, VINTAGE am Rhein, not only provides guests with an enjoyable meal, but also an interesting wine tour. Claudia Stern also plays host to a wide variety of events at her premises, publishes a culinary magazine, has developed her own line of delicacies and offers cooking classes at the highest level. She is fascinated by the diversity of the North Rhine-Westphalian culinary landscape and it is for this reason that she has served as Ambassador of Good Taste for the Cologne & Rhine-Erft region for several years now.
Culinary enjoyment in NRW?
7 questions for... Claudia Stern
Why are you the Ambassador of for the Cologne & Rhine-Erft region?
Even though I wasn’t born here, having instead ‘immigrated’ here from Baden, I love my city of Cologne. It’s probably only now after living here for almost 20 years that I’m getting to experience how lovely it is to have access to or even properly belong to the Carnival scene, the ‘Cologne Clique’ and the creative arts scene here. It’s important to me that every guest has either gotten to know an interesting person after a night out at VINTAGE or is simply able to take a fantastic and enjoyable memory with them when they go home. This is one of the basic requirements I set for myself and my team. I am convinced that if we work together to contribute to every visitor to Cologne and NRW going home with a delightful experience under their belt, then our actions are really worth it. That's why I like to keep involved with the Hotel and Restaurant Association and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (IHK) Committee on Tourism and Trade. That plus I just have a creative mind and am so pleased that with VINTAGE I have gained a certain reputation beyond the limits of Cologne. One fantastic event I’ve been organising for the past 13 years is the German Television Awards Gala. It’s one of the most important and brilliant media events in Germany. When 1,250 celebrities from the television world grace the streets of Cologne on 2 October, it's a good feeling to be able to contribute to greater enjoyment in NRW as a host.
Your opinion: why can North Rhine-Westphalia be described as an epicurean state?
It’s the diversity NRW represents. There is so much culinary enjoyment to discover here. The twelve regions are each so different and so colourful. The cities feature excellent restaurants with a great atmosphere. In the countryside there are large numbers of places people are keen to visit. And last but not least are the unique producers who never cease to amaze: for example, Peter van Nahmen, the producers of Lower Rhine goose eggs or the Frason family from Biohof Peters, the organic farm. And Kölsch of course: a beer with such presence in the city and of such high quality – a good attitude towards life! Not to mention the Richrath brothers, who truly live regionality with their REWE supermarkets. Or the treacle you can use to conjure up wonderful dishes. Or the large companies established in NRW, such as Miele, who maintain an unparalleled corporate and epicurean culture. And the list goes on.
What trait distinguishes an epicurean?
Definitely curiosity. Without a doubt joy. But also a love of nature. In short: people who have the good fortune of experiencing, recognising and, above all, appreciating the sunny side of life.
You perform at your very best every day. What do you consider the perfect culinary start to the day?
It depends on if it’s a weekday or a Sunday! An proper freshly brewed espresso. Then I start by going for a jog along the Grüngürtel (Green Belt), Cologne’s most beautiful avenue, then to the TV Tower and back, or just doing a few laps around the waters of the Aachener Weiher. Then it’s nice to enjoy yoghurt with fresh fruit without being pressed for time. On Sundays, however, it’s a very different picture: I wake up, have coffee in bed, read a good book, doze off again, have lunch for breakfast or vice versa. For me this simply must include a really good breakfast egg with fleur de sel and buttered brown bread. And raisin bread with butter... but I have to try to resist that particular temptation because once you start you simply cannot stop.
Your products and dishes inspire your guests and colleagues. Which producers in your region inspire you?
Oh there are lots, for example the Frason family from Biohof Peters, the organic farm. Or Peter Metternich from the quality butcher's Naturmetzgerei Hennes. And of course the Löffelweise food company. And for sweeter items, chocolate from Coppeneur. And my colleague, Mr Heinemann, is a true master of his trade. And, as I said earlier, Peter van Nahmen and the Richraths. And of course Ms Römer of the Haaner Felsenquelle spring water company. We brought to life a really great idea for mineral water. We provide Cologne with still and pure water from the water source nearest to the city. It would be simply wonderful if more people would appreciate what I consider a pure urban marketing idea, particularly the highest quality mineral water.
Do you have any personal recommendations for visitors to the epicurean region of NRW?
Of course you simply must see the Cologne Cathedral. And drink a Kölsch. And take a boat trip to Königswinter and of course the classic rail journey to the Drachenfels. The views over the Rhine valley are sensational.
Last but not least: what is your motto for personal enjoyment?
"Just want what’s good" is my current motto. Because the advertising world has no shortage of superlatives and for me, ‘good’ is simply the best.
Then, with a wink: save water, drink wine.
The third then makes perfect sense: love food, love life.