La Vie is established in a stately house in the centre of Osnabrück, not far from the Dutch border. Although it has been a restaurant for over 15 years, it got its name only in 2006 when Thomas and his wife, Thayarni, were asked to bring its cuisine to another level. The chef had already earned acclaim in Dortmund where he had been awarded two Michelin stars. The tyre manufacturer was only too happy to return five years later and award Thomas the ultimate accolade of three stars.
How does the chef describe his kitchen? “It is important to maintain the flavours of your ingredients. However innovative you want to be, the guests should always be able to taste what he’s eating. Once we know what the ingredients are going to be, we look for the best techniques for preparing them, and the lowest possible temperatures. I often choose a particular flavour and prepare it in a variety of ways for a variety of consistencies.” At the moment, Thomas uses his historical, 4000 m2 (0.4 hectares) of gardens as inspiration, where he grows 170 different vegetables and herbs, including 15 different kinds of potatoes. What does he think of veal? “If you’re talking about a good steak, then nothing beats a matured piece of beef. But if you’re looking for subtlety, then veal is much better. There are uses for the entire animal, and I especially love using the offal, but am also fond of the tenderness and juiciness of prime cuts.”
Season the slices of veal with salt and pepper, roll up with the sweetbreads and salt again. Roll tightly using aluminium foil and cook sous vide for 10 minutes at 65°C/150°F. Just before serving, brown the outside and glaze with thickened jus. Trim the veal tenderloin and cover generously with butter. Roast in the oven at 100°C/210°F to the desired level, turning the meat every 5 minutes. Just before serving, sear the meat and season with salt and pepper. For the tartare, finely chop the veal and season with the ingredients mentioned to the left, and put in the fridge to absorb the flavours. For the sweet potato, use an apple corer to cut out cylinders. Vacuum pack with the rest of the ingredients, and steam at 100°C/210°F for 20 minutes. For the marinated sweet potato, cut the vegetables into thin ribbons, vacuum pack with the rest of the ingredients and leave to marinate for 24 hours. For the crunchy sweet potato, cut the vegetables into rectangular strips. Bring the rest of the ingredients to the boil and then add the rectangular strips, allowing them to cool in the liquid. Grease some metal cutters, wrap them in baking parchment, and grease again. Dry the sweet potato using paper towel and roll around the cutter. Allow to dry for 30 hours in a drying oven. For the risotto, cut the grapefruit into pieces and dip for a few seconds in liquid nitrogen. Put straight in between two sheets of baking parchment, roll out with a rolling pin, and put the loose segments in the freezer. Heat in a little bit of hot veal jus before serving. Be careful to dress the plate smartly with the three veal dishes and the various garnishes.
4 thin slices from the breast (veal), 4 portions of sweetbreads (veal - washed), 125g veal jus (thickened with 125g butter and 0.7g xanthana), 120g veal tenderloin, meringues made with sorrel, fresh sorrel, puffed amaranth, sweet potato aioli, Comté cheese biscuits, crème of ricotta and Comté, 4 dstspn wheat grass yoghurt, wheat grass jelly.
For the tartare
200g veal tenderloin, salted lemon peel, mustard, olive oil, salt, sansho pepper, algin, fermented pepper, mung beans.
For the sweet potato cylinders
1 sweet potato, beurre noisette, lardo, stock (poultry), quince vinegar, lemon balm.
For the marinated sweet potato
75ml grapefruit juice, 25ml lemon juice, chopped lemon balm, grapefruit zest, olive oil, pinch of sugar, pinch of salt, dash of white balsamic vinegar, a dash of white soy sauce, 1 sweet potato cut into very thin slices.
For the crunchy sweet potato
200g pumpkin juice, 30g quince vinegar, 50g grapefruit juice, 75g maltodextrin, 750g sugar syrup, pinch of salt, grapefruit zest, 1 sweet potato.
For the grapefruit risotto
1 red grapefruit, veal jus.
For the foam, boil the rice in the poultry stock until cooked. Measure 125g of the mixture and add the cream and crème fraîche. Process in a Thermoblender until smooth, and then rub through a fine-mesh sieve, pour into a siphon and attach two canisters. Keep warm in a bain-marie. For the egg yolk crème, beat the egg yolk lightly through the stock and season with salt. Cook sous vide for 2 hours in a warm water bath at 65°C/150°F. For the maize crumble, scrape the fat off the skin. Flatten the skin between 2 sheets of baking parchment. Remove and press on a plancha grill and fry for 5 minutes on both sides. Then quickly deep-fry in hot oil and dry under a heating lamp. Mix the maltodextrin with goose fat and blend the maize and the cornflakes briefly in a blender. Break the chicken skin with your hands and blend with the pulverized mixture and the goose fat to create a crumble. Set aside. Place the washed sweetbreads in ice water overnight, drain very well and roll tightly in aluminium foil. Cook sous vide in a warm water bath at 65°C/150°F for 15 minutes together with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprig of thyme. Before serving, pan-fry on all sides until golden brown and cut into slices. Wash the veal cheek, cook gently in the veal jus and cool in its own liquid. Cut evenly into cubes and glaze with the jus before serving. Vacuum pack the Tafelspitz with the smoked butter and cook sous vide for 12 minutes in a warm water bath at 65°C/150°F. Just before serving, sauté quickly in sizzling butter, season with salt and carve. Trim the veal tenderloin, cover generously with butter and cook to the desired level in the oven at 100°C/210°F, turning the meat every 5 minutes. Brown before serving and season with salt and pepper. Vacuum pack the seasoned sirloin and cook sous vide for 15 minutes in a warm water bath at 65°C/150°F and brown on all sides before serving. Season with salt and carve. Arrange the various items on a plate, pipe dots of egg and green pea crème between and garnish with the puffed rice, slices of mushroom, crumble, foam, cress and peas. Pour on the fond blanc when serving it at the table.
100g sweetbreads (veal), olive oil, 1 sprig of thyme, 1 veal cheek, veal jus, 200g Tafelspitz (veal rump cap), smoked butter, 100g veal tenderloin. 100g veal sirloin, fond blanc, puffed wild rice, thin slices of raw mushroom, blanched green peas, green pea cream, affilla cress, butter.
For the rice foam
200g stock (poultry), 50g long grain rice, 130g cream, 40g crème fraîche.
For the egg yolk crème
100g egg yolk, 20g stock (poultry), pinch of salt.
For the maize crumble
20g maltodextrin, 30g goose fat, 45g cornflakes, 30g freeze-dried maize, 5 pieces of chicken skin (from the neck).
Place washed sweetbreads in ice water overnight; dab dry and roll tightly in aluminium foil. Vacuum pack with a good dash of olive oil and thyme, and cook sous vide for 15 minutes in a warm water bath at 65°C/150°F. Cool immediately in ice water and just before serving, brown on all sides in sizzling butter. Divide the sweetbreads into portions and season with salt and pepper. For the noodles, process turnip in an electric juicer, bring to the boil and strain. Season with salt and sugar and thicken with agar-agar. Dissolve soaked gelatin in this mixture, strain it again and suck the mixture into a syringe. Press the liquid out of the syringe into straws and put these straight into ice water. As soon as it has coagulated, use a siphon to blow the gel out of the straws. For the hazelnut crème, process the ingredients in a Thermoblender until smooth and rub it through a fine-mesh sieve. For the foam, heat the juice with the milk and butter, season to taste with salt and sugar and immediately whisk into foam with a handheld blender. Blanch the cauliflower and Romanesco florets separately and fry in sizzling butter until golden brown. Season to taste with salt. Peel the turnip, cut it using a metal cutter and cook in the juice until done. Arrange the various items harmoniously on a plate.
400g sweetbreads (veal), olive oil, 2 sprigs of thyme, 100g Romanesco florets, 100g cauliflower florets, butter, 4 turnips, turnip juice.
For the noodles
10 turnips, 2g agar-agar, 2 gelatin leaves.
For the hazelnut crème
200g hazelnuts, 200g milk, 100g crème fraîche, 20g hazelnut oil, pinch of salt and sugar.
For the turnip foam
500g turnip juice, 200g butter, 100g milk, pinch of salt and sugar.