Wohnzimmerrestaurant Chicoree // Dresden
Guerilla cooking doesn’t seem the right term when it comes to Ursula and Christian Gruhl, though at first sight this is exactly what they do: Cooking for strangers in their private home. 5 years ago they started their Wohnzimmerrestaurant Chicoree in Dresden. It’s in a sense even more secret than most other secret restaurants: Chicoree has a basic website, yes, and it was featured in some TV reports, mostly regional ones. But you won’t find it on Facebook or Twitter, the key channels for keeping secret restaurants running. Could well be this has to do with the chefs’ age: Ursula Grohl is 86 years old, her husband will turn 84 next month. “Best agers” as they would probably call themselves, both far away from being doddery or senile. OK, a small gout every now and then is pretty normal at that age. Ursula Gruhl is currently recovering from an operation on her knee. And her husband had a heart attack 3 years ago. But no matter how hard the doctors tried to convince him, he refused the bypass operation. To him it is clear that heart attacks are caused by a hyperacidity of the body, and that such problem can be solved with the right nutrition. His energy and vitality seem to prove him right so far.
According to the Gruhls, their secret is wholefood, a diet they have been practicing for over 30 years. It was an eco-hotel in Bavaria where they discovered wholefood cuisine for the first time, and the experience made them change their lifestyle forever. Allowing others to experience wholefood cuisine is what has driven them to open a home restaurant. The recipes they work from are by Christl und Gabriele Kurz, mother and daughter and both wholefood experts. Since 2007, Gabriele Kurz is the head-chef of Magnolia, Dubai’s first vegetarian luxury restaurant.
The Wohnzimmerrestaurant Chicoree doesn’t schedule any dates in advance but takes reservations by phone and email. 2 people is the minimum, the living room’s maximum capacity is 12. Guests from Dresden are rather a minority, most come from Hamburg, Berlin, Kassel and Leipzig. Even a lady from St. Petersburg in Russia recently dined at the Chicoree. There is no à la carte service but one menu of the day with 5-7 courses, named the “Royal Menu”. Everything is homemade and freshly prepared from organic products, meat or fish don’t get served. Vegetables aren’t cooked but steamed so that sensitive ingredients, taste and colour of the food don’t get destroyed. Any baked goods are made from freshly ground spelt and kamuth, no wheat, because wheat is known for triggering allergies. The Gruhls also use a special type of salt from Pakistan’s Hunza Valley, in ancient times called the “Kings’ salt”. The salt you usually buy from supermarkets has only 2 elements, Sodium and Chloride, as Christian Gruhl explains, it’s more or less a chemical product. The rose coloured salt from Hunza Valley consists of 84 elements, the same number as the human body apparently.
The Gruhls are originally from Dresden but fled from Eastern Germany in 1956 when Christian Gruhl was about to be sent to a labor camp, an uranium mine, for resistance against the authorities. They settled down in Stuttgart where Christian Gruhl 4 years later set up his own company, an engineering firm with 20 employees. In 1998 the retired couple returned to Dresden and to the house they used to live in until 1956, which is now also the home of their restaurant. The address of Wohnzimmerrestaurant Chicoree is Friedhofstrasse 3, Graveyard Street, but the Gruhls have clearly no intention to move down the street any time soon. His target age is 126, Christian Gruhl explains. Long live the Chicoree!