When Phillip Schneider and his restaurant Der Schneider in Dortmund received the news of his first Michelin star, his emotions ran the gamut from joy to sadness to anger: Joy at finally having achieved it. And anger and sadness because the current restrictions prevented him and his team from fully enjoying their success. ‘If something doesn’t happen soon,’ he says, ‘the star won’t help me either. I’ll have to close because I’ll be broke, and then I can say I once had one.’ And yet, according to the top chef with Italian roots, the accolade is something special, particularly in these tough times – also for the team at his restaurant.
Schneider had already changed the way he cooked before the pandemic hit, reversing the traditional 70:30 ratio of meat to vegetables. ‘That’s not only sustainable,’ he says, but also enables very precise calculation. Lowering the cost of goods is particularly vital to a restaurant’s survival during the coronavirus crisis, he adds. But, he says, it’s still hard these days. He simply tries to live in the here and now and uses the time he has gained due to the lockdown to work toward his other dream: his own cooking school. His dream of a star has come true. ‘It feels earned,’ he says. ‘So it was simply meant to be. All the years that were so crazy, when I worked such long hours and neglected family and friends – it was all good for something. I’m finally where I always wanted to be.’ The star, Phillip Schneider says, makes him feel he’s arrived.