Max Strohe

Max Strohe – from retirement home kitchen to Michelin-starred restaurant

timer2 minJuly 2023

At least since his TV appearances on ‘Kitchen Impossible’, ‘The Taste’ and ‘Kuchenschlacht’ [Kitchen Battle], Max Strohe has become a household name for food lovers. But he chose to train as a chef, not out of passion, but out of necessity.

What´s it all about

  • Max Strohe – a true multi-talent
  • Boarding school or an apprenticeship - his mother gave him a choice
  • He did it his way: From retirement home chef to Tulus Lotrek
  • It is all about the name Tulus Lotrek and a first Michelin star
  • The corona pandemic and the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany

Max Strohe doesn’t just demonstrate his abilities at his restaurant Tulus Lotrek and on various TV shows, he also shows his commitment to society. During the Coronavirus pandemic, for example, he and his partner Ilona Scholl launched the ‘Kochen für Helden’ campaign [Cooking for Heroes], for which the couple received the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany in 2021.

Max Strohe – a true multi-talent

But Max Strohe isn’t just a culinary artist – he also wields a pen with great flair. In his book published in 2022, ‘Kochen am offenen Herzen’ [Cooking with an Open Heart], he reflects on his years of training and travelling, when he experienced many highs and lows. If you want to read even more from and about Max Strohe, take a look at his column in the METRO magazine MPULSE. Here, the Michelin-starred chef writes about selected photos from his Instagram feed.

From retirement home chef to Tulus Lotrek

Max Strohe was born in 1982 in Bonn as Maximilian Strohe and grew up in a small town in Rhineland-Palatinate. At the age of 15, his mother gave him the choice of boarding school or an apprenticeship. A Michelin-starred chef today, he chose an apprenticeship because the boarding school smelled so strange – as he told MPULSE in an interview. He began his cookery training at the Wendelinusstube in Sinzig-Koisdorf and completed it nearby at the Hotel-Restaurant Hohenzollern in Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler. Here, he learned classic French cuisine under head chef Gerd Lanz. After his apprenticeship, he worked initially as a chef in a retirement home, and then in a hotel on Crete. Finally, he returned to the Hotel-Restaurant Hohenzollern, no longer under Lanz, but under head chef Martin A. Reuter. In 2010, Max Strohe moved to Berlin. There, he started working at ‘Frau Mitternang’, where he met Ilona Scholl, who later became his partner. Five years after moving to Berlin, Max Strohe and Ilona Scholl took the next brave step: they opened their own restaurant in Berlin-Kreuzberg called Tulus Lotrek.

Tulus Lotrek – it’s all in the name

Tulus Lotrek alludes to French painter and playboy Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. But with this Germanized spelling, the two owners want to dispel any expectation that classic French cuisine is the order of the day in Tulus Lotrek. Instead, the menu presents well-known classics with exotic notes in extraordinary creations. Max Strohe and his team create innovative combinations from carefully selected products. Their specialities are rich sauces and stocks. The dishes are served in the form of two 7-course menus: omnivore or vegetarian.

Tulus Lotrek has four chef’s toques in the Gault Millau ‘Restaurant Guide 2023/24’. The intention of Max Strohe as Head Chef and Ilona Scholl as Maitre d’ was to create a restaurant with affordable meals that they themselves would visit. Just one year after opening in 2016, leading critics selected Max Strohe as ‘Rising Star of the Year’. Also in 2017, he earned his first Michelin star. Not forgetting Ilona Scholl, whom the association of ‘Berlin Masterchefs’ selected as ‘Hostess of the Year’ in 2017. ‘Gault Millau' awarded her the same title four years later in 2021.


Max Strohe and Ilona Scholl cook for heroes

Although they’ve had some success with their restaurant, Max Strohe and Ilona Scholl weren’t spared by the pandemic. During the first lockdown, they launched the ‘Cooking for Heroes’ project. Due to recurring closures, their fridges were full but customers were in short supply.The idea of providing neighbourly aid arose from this situation. So they started cooking for people in essential roles, such as doctors, care staff in hospitals, pharmacy workers and supermarket employees – the heroes of the pandemic. The ‘Cooking for Heroes’ initiative, which started in Berlin, quickly spread to numerous other German cities. In 2021, Ilona Scholl and Max Strohe received the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany for the nationwide project.