Tim Mälzer | Rocco Forte

Serving Chiaro at Berlin's Hotel de Rome

The new face of Rocco Forte gastronomy in Germany: Tim Mälzer
Philipp Rathmer
The new face of Rocco Forte gastronomy in Germany: Tim Mälzer

German Celebrity chef Tim Mälzer has launched the first Chiaro location together with five-star hotel group Rocco Forte in Berlin on Sunday. The menu combines Italian cuisine with Japanese elements. 

The new restaurant in Berlin is said to be clean and straightforward, as the name Chiaro suggests when translated. The creators of the Italian-Japanese restaurant are Tim Mälzer and Sebastian Brugger, head chef of the Bullerei, Hamburg. Behind the conceptual design, in turn, are the heads of the consulting agency Tellerrand Consulting, of which Mälzer is also a part. The celebrity chef makes it clear at the on-site appointment: "We are hosts, we are not a concept."

The gastronomic predecessor of Chiaro in the Hotel de Rome was the restaurant La Banca. The interiors were given a new, urban look together with the architecture firm Aisslinger. The route into the restaurant is new. Guests as well as external guests no longer have to cross the imposing hotel lobby, but can enter the dining room with around 80 seats or the terrace with around 40 seats directly via the bar. However, according to Tim Koch, one of the five shareholders of Tellerrand Consulting, the aim was not to turn everything upside down.

View into the Chiaro - one day before the official opening
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View into the Chiaro - one day before the official opening

Chiaro is intended to offer a lively, informal culinary experience and is set to become the capital's hip new meeting place. "Especially in the past year and a half, the personal get-together with friends, family and partners has become even more important for all of us, Gordon Debus, General Manager of the Hotel de Rome, lets us know. "This is exactly what we are focusing on with Chiaro. After our rooftop terrace has established itself very well on site, we would also like to inspire Berlin guests for our new restaurant with Chiaro, which combines enjoyment, art and design in a relaxed and urban atmosphere and reflects the lifestyle of the vibrant capital. I am grateful to have Tim as a partner at my side. He understands in a unique way how to combine Italian cuisine with typical Japanese umami," says Debus.

Italy and Japan, street and luxury

According to Mälzer, the menu also combines luxury with street, bringing a so-called freshness to the hotel. There is a choice of meat dishes such as Katsu Sando (beef tartare with tramezzini and spicy Japanese tonkatsu sauce, 12 euros) - reminiscent of hotel food in general: the club sandwich. Also served is lamb osso buco (29 euros) or a catch of the day and vegetarian classics like stuffed tortellini (19 euros). The menu includes oysters (12 euros) and a classic street food item - only reinterpreted - arancini (14 euros).

Pinsa al Tartufo: black truffle, feta cheese, fontina, crême fraîche & frisée salad
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Pinsa al Tartufo: black truffle, feta cheese, fontina, crême fraîche & frisée salad

Italian and Japanese cuisines are very similar, according to Mälzer. Both are fanatical about products, and they are also united by their artisanal approach. When it comes to seasoning, he says the cuisines are relatively simple and recurring umami elements occur, such as Parmesan or soy.

The Hotel de Rome in Berlin
Rocco Forte
The Hotel de Rome in Berlin

Break down inhibitions with reduced prices

The necessary price increase currently much discussed in the gastro industry was not an issue for Chiaro. "We have even reduced the prices," Debus lets it be known. This, he says, is intended to break down inhibitions. "All dishes that we offer are founded on basic knowledge," explains Mälzer the new approach to gastronomy in the 5-star house. More people should understand Chiaro and be addressed. "I am the mainstream of chefs. I like average, I like people."

The first talks for the cooperation were in 2019. "At first glance, it may seem unusual that I choose a luxury hotel. But the unexpected combination creates enthusiasm," says Mälzer. "The Rocco Forte brand and I share a passion for gastronomy, have a close connection to Italy and inspire people with new and unique experiences."

Already fixed is the multiplication of Chiaro for the Munich location of the Rocco Forte Group. The Charles Hotel is scheduled to open at the beginning of next year. There are also plans to move into the Villa Kennedy in Frankfurt. Currently, Steffen Henssler is still using the kitchen as a pop-up location for his Go concept. According to Mälzer, each house offers special challenges. Tellerrand Consulting acts in this partnership as concept developer and companion. The hotel group is the operator of the gastro properties. Tim Mälzer says of the future plans, "If this works, it's the last thing I'll do."

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