Almost as exciting as the culinary experiments of the highly acclaimed chef is the story of how he ended up in top gastronomy. He tells it very modestly and a little as if he still can’t quite believe what has happened to him over the last 20 years. In his Indian homeland, he trained to become an electrician before coming to Germany in 1998. Here, he lived with a relative who ran a restaurant and worked – “I couldn’t do anything else” – as a kitchen dishwasher. Just six months later he was running the kitchen, and this was when Jaspreet Dhaliwal-Wilmes met Jean-Marie Dumaine, top chef from the Ahr and famous for his wild herb dishes. They were introduced by mutual acquaintances. He then worked as an intern in the kitchen of the renowned Vieux Sinzig for almost three months and would have liked to stay even longer, but Dumaine persuaded him to start an apprenticeship as a chef. “I was very worried because I hardly spoke a word of German, but he said he would help me,” recalls Dhaliwal-Wilmes.
And Dumaine did just that − so successfully that his protégé finished as the second best of his year. This was followed by various stations in some Michelin star kitchens and repeated trips to Sinzig, until almost three years ago he realized his dream of running his own restaurant in Cologne. He remains friends with Dumaine and owes the name of his restaurant to him: “At some point he called me the “fourth king”, reports Jaspreet Dhaliwal-Wilmes laughing. “The three kings who came to the manger brought gold, frankincense and myrrh and I brought unusual spices into his kitchen.”
As well as the cuisine of his homeland, his training under Dumaine today shapes the cooking style of Jaspreet Dhaliwal-Wilmes; he has merged both aspects to create something
very unique. In his restaurant, wild herbs regularly appear on the menu, many of which have been gathered by the chef himself. He combines these with typical Indian and self-mixed curries, fenugreek, cardamom or tamarind, lending his dishes, which are inspired by French cuisine, such extraordinary aromas.
On 3rd December, he will be presenting this cuisine for the first time on-board the KD: Immersing the elegant salon of the MS RheinFantasie in the beguiling scent of India with his four-course menu created exclusively for this occasion. In addition to wild boar terrine with mango chutney and salmon marinated in homemade curry, the menu also includes veal with Szechuan pepper crust.
Dhaliwal-Wilmes’ mentor Jean-Marie Dumaine makes his debut on-board the KD just a few weeks earlier. He pampers the palates of his guests with a menu typical to his style which is based on regional wild herbs. But this dinner trip on 15th October is also an absolute premiere for another reason. In addition to the culinary aspect, there will also be a musical programme on this evening – in honour of the composer Jaques Offenbach, who was born 200 years ago in Cologne. Between the courses, musicians from the Rheinische Solisten will present well-known and surprising works from the oeuvre of the great composer in historical dress.
The other dinner trips on the KD programme in 2019 are all focused on tantalising the taste buds. In Cologne and again in Düsseldorf, the elegant event ships regularly depart for enjoyable cruises, each time with a different host. The list of ship’s chefs for an evening now reads like the who’s who of the region’s top gastronomy and ranges in Cologne from Hans-Stefan Steinheuer to Daniel Gottschlich, recently awarded his second Michelin star, and the duo Jan-Cornelius Maier and Tobias Becker all the way to Philipp Wolter and Olaf Baumeister. In Düsseldorf, Erika Bergheim, Holger Berens and also Philipp Wolter board the ship’s galley to delight the city’s gourmets.
“Der vierte König” (The Fourth King) is the name of Jaspreet Dhaliwal-Wilmes’ restaurant. The name includes a good helping of local flavour; after all, Cologne Cathedral has been home to the relics of the Three Kings for over 850 years. Anyone who enters the restaurant in the old building in the pretty Cologne suburb of Klettenberg immediately feels at home in the bright atmosphere of the comfortably sized dining area, with its expansive counter and the artfully carved attachment behind it which is painted in a striking mint green. This is where Rhenish Wilhelminian style and French bistro charm meet to form an effective composition.
The aromas, however, come from a completely different geographical direction and immediately capture the visitor’s sense of smell: Something exotic is in the air. Curry, cumin or coriander, perhaps? Definitely something unexpected in this atmosphere and in a restaurant of this name. But just as the name and interior of the restaurant cannot be clearly assigned to a gastronomic direction, the same can be said for what is served here. The host Jaspreet Dhaliwal- Wilmes cultivates his very own culinary style and is highly successful with it – plenty of reasons for the KD managers to invite him on-board for one of their popular dinner trips.
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