Subtitles: WDR mediagroup digital
GmbH on behalf of the WDR It’s the city of cities. Also culinary
a class of its own: New York. 3 Germans working in some
of the best addresses in town: Günter Seeger opens with 66
his first restaurant in Manhattan. Doreen Winkler holds his own
as a freelance wine expert. And Charlie Romano has the sweet cuisine in the legendary
Waldorf Astoria among himself. millions of people
have already arrived here. The skyline may change all the time. Hopes and dreams
the same. The city was
and is a place of longing. This might be New York.
the hottest right now. In the Meatpacking District. The High Line, where the
trains arrived with the slaughter cattle, everyone’s getting pulled in now. Young, wealthy New Yorkers
and tourists anyway. The mixture of urban green,
Art and industrial wasteland seems irresistible. 2 streets down.
the life dream of Günter Seeger from the Black Forest
will come true: my own restaurant in New York. In the USA
he’s been 32 years. But with its innovative concept
he had to come here. Our guests who do not buy food
or they won’t buy a table. They’re buying an experience. When the guests come who know
I don’t even know what they’re getting. Eating,
what’s on the table. Are Americans involved in this? I’m not worried about that. What are you worried about? That the restaurant will be opened
next week. They’re working on how you hear. The gas connection is overdue. For this purpose, the furniture
delivered too soon. Seeger’s last restaurant
in Atlanta it was closed nine years ago. This is supposed to
will be the great litter of his life. The Waldorf Astoria
has been big since 1931. It’s part of the league.
of the international hotel legends. Art deco fans can get
I can’t get enough of this. With just under 1,500 rooms, it is also
one of the biggest hotels in town. Two years ago.
Chinese investors, for about $2 billion. Most expensive hotel deal ever. For the more than 1,400 hotel employees
they say little should change. Alone in the patisserie.
17 people are working. Her boss is Charlie Romano. 40 years ago, as a child.
Italian immigrant born in Oberhausen. His English is better now. than his German
and his Italian. Now he’s so New Yorker.
like his greatest sweet hits. So that’s the lemon pie,
which we in the room service… In the room. And we’ve got the honey
of our… From the roof. We have bees… on the floor,
on the roof. That’s where we make our own honey. We’ll use it,
to make the meringue. So it’s a lemon pie
with honey meringue. We want to see the roof bees. There’s a lot more on the way.
other places of interest. Every president from Truman to
was here. This is Richard Nixon. And John F. Kennedy. This is the Marilyn Monroe Suite. Did she live there? Yeah, it used to be here. Frank Sinatra
has also lived here twice. Did he behave himself? Did he behave himself? Yes, I do. He lived here. So, he’s done what he wants. Like he was home. It’s been a little exhausting.
with the people. Bees. Bees. Bee alert. Be careful. The facade is currently being renovated,
hence the ropes on the roof. We have
different apple trees here. They’re different. Also a cherry tree
we’ve got here somewhere. Strawberries. The bees
are on the other side. We have… Six of them. Six peoples?
– Six peoples. That’s it. How does New York honey taste? Very good.
I’ve got a little down. Very tasty. It sounds weird ’cause
there are skyscrapers all around. Bees fly like 3 miles. I don’t know how much…
A mile, maybe? That’s how they fly around,
to find the nectar. A few days have passed, and we’ll watch again
at Günter Seeger’s. After an opening in 1,5 weeks
it still doesn’t look that way. This is the lamp
from my grandfather. It’s coming this way. What do you associate with the chandelier? Who hung
in our house in the Black Forest. That was in my first restaurant.
in the Hoheneck in Pforzheim. He hung out in my restaurant.
in Atlanta. For 10 years.
And now he’s coming here. Very important. It’s always a pleasure for me,
when I see this. A beautiful memory. There’s electricity. Water too. Many kitchen appliances
come from Germany. But there was something else. The kitchen will be ready tomorrow. Except we don’t have gas. That’s the most important thing, isn’t it? It’s in God’s hands.
We’ll do what we can. There’s a gas connection in New York.
something like a sovereign act. And it can last. In the Sel Rrose at the Bowery
you don’t have that problem anymore. Here we meet
Doreen Winkler from Saxony. The 35-year-old
is freelance sommelier. And it’s been that way for eight years. A long time for the hard
the highly competitive New York wine market. In sel rose
she’s doing wine training. So far, the bar is more like an address
for oysters and cocktails, thanks to her now also for natural wines. They’re the ones without additives. Very popular in the USA right now. With their fashionable specialty seems Doreen Winkler
for hitting a nerve. In front of him
she’s got wine novices all over her. They’re gonna be right here.
15 young Americans train. Put that pressure on you,
or are you loosening up? No, I’ll take it easy. We got a great team here.
They’re all very sweet. No, they’re not nice. We have a lot of fun
with the wine. They always tell me their impressions,
what the guests are saying. We all get along very well. The programme includes
4 new natural wines and a guessing game. What smell and taste
the candidates, none of which have been real
I had an interest in wine? So what do you guys smell? Could that be lemongrass? I knew it. Very good, Patrick. Even after the eighth session.
there’s still air left upstairs. The life of the participants
has already changed. Now I can’t go on to the cheap wines of the past
to return. You’d be ready,
to be given as a gift? Always. That’s a little
unusual at a wine tasting. Well, we’re looking at wine.
here in a new way. We’ll go there, too.
new ways at the wine tastings. A spittoon needs a spittoon despite
of the early hour. With every sip
enthusiasm rises. Günter Seeger craves it
at this hour after another. On the Union Square Market
his way leads him regularly to a booth
with live wheatgrass. In the form of juice, it’s supposed to give the body
fabulously the toxic mercury. A glass every day,
then you’ll get very old. But what does it cost, $8? Six dollars. And the water’s free? Yes. Thank you very much. The market
has so many curiosities to offer. There’s Rick, for example, a quality potato
and tomato pioneer and now an asparagus enthusiast. We’re in America. That’s where numbers matter,
e.g. the sugar content. Some people find the more important
than the price. So they also test
Strawberries in summer. I only know it from the grape harvest,
to determine the Oechsle degree. What did you learn from Günter? Finally, the quest for excellence. You always have to want the best. Give more.
Try to get better. And better after that. Take a look at yourself,
what he’s doing right now. This is insane. Four times a week there’s a draught the increasingly nutritionally conscious
to crazy New Yorkers here. Because of the wide offer
of many small fishermen and farmers from the surrounding area,
because of the eye-catchers in the audience and despite the steep prices. How did the culinary offer look?
and I’m gonna get out of here, when you came here 30 years ago? What was that on the markets? Nothing. That’s not much.
– There wasn’t anything. That was the beginning. It’s been a lot of work setting that up.
over the last 20 years. As a young, quality-imbued
Chef from Europe had Günter Seeger its share of the revenue
of the American kitchen miracle. Today he can reap the harvest. The ballroom at the Waldorf Astoria. The better society
meets in the evening to a great
Charity event. Typical New York. The in-house patisserie will be
the desired tartlets. Freshly made
and one like the other. Charlie Romano stands for it. 1,300 pieces, that’s crazy.
Is that normal for you here? Yes, I do. Yeah, it’s normal. 1.000, 500… 500 is little. 900, we’re looking forward to it. It’s more fun. Why is this more fun? Look at this: Just to see,
how many we have. The logistics of doing it this way. That’s more interesting. You have to… Jerk, jerk. Günter Seeger has a maximum of 40 guests,
when we could finally get started. At least the kitchen’s
has been largely built up in the meantime. You’ve lost your calm.
We open next week. You can’t cook yet, but you can.
You have time for a wine tasting. Cooking is the smallest problem.
Cooking’s two days. All the basic preparations,
all the funds. Let’s get on with it. But no gas, no cooking.
– I’m afraid not. Melt your savings
right there? They’re probably already gone.
I don’t even know yet. Somewhere, of course.
into his budget. It happens to everyone.
Everyone’s going through this. I’ve heard of cases where restaurants
Three or four months wait for their gas. That’s life-threatening. Yeah, it’s life-threatening. But Günter Seeger
is enough after 32 years of American service, in order to be optimistic
to look to the future. And that’s why he’s going
I’ll buy some spices. Kalustyan’s has it all,
what a chef dreams of. An Armenian
founded the shop in 1944. He’s been growing ever since. Even just
a few weeks ago. I have to say,
he was world class before. But that’s fantastic. There’s nothing else to say. Have you anywhere in the world seen a store before
like this one? Paris has spice shops,
that might be more romantic. I think,
that’s hard to beat. Variety?
– Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Back to another
New American: Charlie Romano. After his parents divorced. at the age of 13 he was
I came to New York. Without knowing a word of English. Him and his daddy,
a construction worker from Sicily. And here his strawberry tartlets go.
later, in the big ballroom. When you came to America,
you would have thought, that you’d make it this far? No. No way. No, no. No way. I was the one who told America
I’ve always seen him on TV. The black and white films
on the first or second channel. I never thought I’d see New York.
No way. And now I’m here in Midtown.
I honestly never would have thought. What was your plan? Or how far
did you want to bring it? You never know,
how far you can go. What’s going on in life. When I moved away from Germany.
I said to myself, I have to do something,
I have to show them, that I’ve done something. Everything I do,
I like to do it with my heart. I thank my father
and my mother for it. Failure is not an option. Failure is not an option. Failure is not an option. Failure is not an option. A much smaller dinner
Party’s being prepared in Soho. Doreen Winkler
is responsible for the wines. Your client’s name is Amy. She organizes
Festivals for all the senses. Is that typical of New York?
A secret dinner? I wouldn’t say that,
that it’s typically New York. We’re part of a movement. Not just in New York. After this digital age,
where everyone’s on social networks, people want
personal encounters again. Is that a special
demanding audience? To participate
is not quite cheap. Expect the
a great wine performance from you? They expect something that’s not normal.
is what they don’t see every day. Tonight
we have a vegan menu. We also have vegan,
natural wine. Without additional… substances.
No additives, unfiltered. You speak better now
English as German, I think. Absolutely. Do your clients still notice,
that you’re German? Or is that an advantage or disadvantage
for you to be German? I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know.
I think it’s an advantage. But nobody cares.
It’s just about performance. At all levels. Menus and place cards
creates a calligrapher. The guests are members
of an exclusive club, who
to different dinner parties in a variety of places. What awaits you tonight,
they don’t know before. Part of the overall experience is also,
that the guests later their own bouquets of flowers
to put together a list. This will be an evening for people, that a normal restaurant visit
is far too ordinary. You will get a vegan menu
by an up-and-coming chef. Like a rice noodle.
with bamboo shoots in chili sauce. The expensive townhouse is for
2 evening events rented. Just in time
it gets a little redecorated. In a good hour
let’s get started. * Honk * It’s Friday night in New York. Outside, traffic is hell.
as you can hear. – Yes, it is. The guests are coming
even on time? We’ll see about that.
But this dinner… I think so, yes,
that they’re gonna take that into account. But I think so, too,
that most of the… People live here in Soho,
not far away. How much is the fun tonight? There’s no way this is cheap. This is really
for the elite of Manhattan. Also Charlie Romano
it’s going to Soho. He wants us on his night off. one of the most special
restaurants of the city. From the outside it looks like like an arbitrary
Mexican snack bar. From the inside too, wouldn’t there be
the bouncer in front of the basement stairs. You have to be
I’d like to stop by first. Because a lot of people want to get into this basement. The way to the table
leads every guest through the kitchen. At La Esquina
you have nothing to hide. The head pastry chef from the Waldorf interest of course
especially the desserts. His colleague
readily provides information about ingredients, recipes, tricks. Proud is the chef
and his corncobs, with sour cream,
butter, Mexican hard cheese and some chili powder. A lot of fun for only $6. It’s been a long road to New York.
of Oberhausen. For Charlie, who as a child
was still called Lillo. Where I lived in Germany, there were two farmers
on both sides of the road. And he had corn on the cob. In late summer
That’s where we went. and stole the corncobs.
and taken home. So this is a piece of Oberhausen,
what we’re eating right now? Good memories. Another little tip for tourists: La Esquina also includes
another café with outside seating. There’s
I think it’s more of a place. And the food
come from the same kitchen. * Music * With Günter Seeger in the West Village
it partly goes on. Finest equipment
waiting to be deployed. The kitchen staff
is already set, but doomed to inaction. Because the most important thing
is still missing. Here’s the connection. When this gets turned around, it starts. That’s the gas connection. How long does it take to do that? Fifteen minutes. How long have you been waiting for this?
that it’s being done? About two weeks. Why would you do that when you were 66?
all still on, Mr. Seeger? I’ll take
I like to take up the challenge. I feel totally fit,
to assume something like that. I have no… I don’t have time for this,
to rest. And that’s great. I have young children,
I have a young wife. And a new business.
What more could you ask for? For an exit
it would be too late now, too. His colleague from the Waldorf Astoria
is leaving for work later today. From the Astoria Station
in Queens. A coincidence, but the ones from Germany
and to great wealth family Astor has many
I left tracks in New York. Driving your car to work,
is not an option for Charlie Romano. For this purpose the traffic
too unpredictable, and the multi-storey car parks
are far too expensive. The successful patissier
27 years ago. only with his father
I came to New York. He was attracted by his divorce.
to his two brothers. And they lived in America long ago.
and no longer in Sicily. A typical
Immigrant history, like they do in New York.
I can hear so often. Great reason to rejoice
with Günter Seeger. Chairs, benches and tables
can be unpacked. Finally. Two months after she erroneously
were delivered too soon. A breath of bliss
is in the air. It feels like Christmas.
Great presents. He’s starting to feel
I’ll even think about cooking. In a good mood he shows us
or one of his favorite stores, Maiden Lane in the East Village. A bar-restaurant,
where everything comes out of a tin can. Mini mackerel, tuna belly,
Sardines with vintage, smoked oysters
or cod liver, for example. Extraordinary,
that someone’s opening a restaurant, and everything comes out of a can. Nothing else?
– Just the can. But you can do that too.
I could do it alone at home. Specifically.
– Special cans? These are special cans. Canned fish here cost
up to $55 a can. And there’s no caviar in it,
It’s mussels in brine. We’ll take Spanish sardines.
and anchovies for $12 each. One last visit
with Charlie Romano in his glamorous workplace. He is also responsible
for the desserts in the newly opened Asian restaurant at
the back of the famous hotel. Until everything works out here, he’s always standing up for himself.
in the patisserie. Around him
he’s only got Asians, from China, Japan, Thailand, Korea. Who else should have authentic
Peking duck or sushi? Desserts playing in Far East
not much of a role, I can get someone else to do it. Charlie Romano’s been in the world a long time.
an American passport, and the native Ruhr area
is far away. Did your mother in Oberhausen
an exact idea of it, what you’re doing here? Nah, I don’t think so. I think,
nobody knows what I’m doing. They all don’t understand. Not even my wife. But your father knows? Sometimes I’m home,
and there are people on TV. Then I say,
I saw him today. They ate at our place today. Or today’s your birthday, because I want a birthday cake
I made for him. They’re all famous people,
that we all know. So my father understands,
what I do so honestly? I don’t think so. Günter Seeger rules
another reason to rejoice. The gas fitters have finally arrived. One day late though.
and only thanks to good relationships, but there is. And after a few
further complications the gas is finally flowing. Come on you guys.
What’s wrong with you? 2 years of preparation
finally graduated. Günter, it looks that way,
as if it were about to start. For nine years you’ve been
no longer actively cooked. Had no restaurant anymore. You can’t say that like that.
I cook at home, too. But professionally. How’s that for you now?
– Great. It’s like being reborn. Home, what’s the difference? And especially where? Black Forest or America?
Shanghai or Chinatown? How much time does it take?
to change the standards? Are there things in search of the
lost time sitting deeper? Smells and tastes? We’ll meet two,
for which the coordinates of the quite different
have shifted. Doreen Winkler in one
of their favorite restaurants, the Fung Tu. And the boss there, Jonathan Wu. He’s supposed to be one of the most creative.
Chinese chefs of the city. He used to cook for a while.
in Brittany. And also with the American
Top chef Thomas Keller. That’s where he learned, too,
to make terrines. But not
from soybeans with chili oil. I’ve got a list on your drinks list
Kölsch seen. Why would you do that? Because it tastes damn good. What I like to drink the most myself,
are refreshing, light beers. I think the beers from the American
Mass production is crap. I don’t like them very much. But their forerunners,
that inspired them, Kölsch and Czech pilsner,
are great. That’s what I like to drink. Cabbage noodle salad and tofu terrine are for Doreen Winkler
and her American acquaintance. Jonathan
spent a few years in Europe. and is
has returned to his homeland. Would that be a way for you,
back to your village in Saxony? No.
The answer is very short: No. Why not? Why not? Because I’ve evolved a lot. and no longer
who’s little Doreen. This isn’t a village,
it’s a small town. It’d be too small for me, to do things,
I want to do. And do you want
stay permanently in Manhattan? Absolutely. Can you imagine,
to grow old here? I’m gonna grow old here.
– You already know that? Yes, I have my place in life.
and he’s in New York. And Günter Seeger? His fountain of youth has opened. Some friends
have come to the test dinner. For the first time in nine years. the German carries
the white professional jacket again. And for the first time.
beloved japanese fish knife made of damask steel. Finally,
we’ve waited a long time for this. What he wants to offer,
is a kitchen of products. As unadulterated as possible
and in a refined and simple way. Something like beef marrow
on spring onion mousseline with some onion powder
and chives. And where to stay
the Black Forest roots? Under the blanket and in the heart. I love the Black Forest. I think it’s a
of the most beautiful areas in the world. Simplicity and friendliness
of people, I think, great. I’ve already seen
a couple of times, to go back to Germany. But it just didn’t work out. But now
we’re just in New York. And here, the old pioneer must be
are now asserting themselves. In the capital of the world, a
Metropolis of pleasures and connoisseurs. Copyright WDR 2016