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Max Strohe: On Cooking, Creativity, and his own Collection

Max Strohe: On Cooking, Creativity, and his own Collection - Max Strohe: On Cooking, Creativity, and his own Collection

He enters the room. Simple, casual style, the obligatory baseball cap on his head. Quiet, observant, almost reserved at first glance. A bit tired from the journey, but happy to be back in Cologne. Just a few kilometers away, he was born and raised. Practically a homecoming. Back then, restaurant openings, TV appearances, Michelin stars, and honorary awards were still dreams of the future, but dreams with earworm potential.

Max knew early on that he had two great loves: creativity and cooking. Combining both was the logical step. After his training as a chef, the free spirit worked in a retirement home and a hotel in Crete, among other places. But ultimately, it was the big city that beckoned. Specifically, the biggest city Germany has to offer: Berlin. Here, in 2015, he and Ilona Scholl opened the restaurant Tulus Lotrek. Named after the French artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, but interpreted in Max's way: casual, unconventional, with an eye for the extraordinary. In his 110sqm locale in the Kreuzberg neighborhood, he also expresses himself visually. Urban charm, eccentric jungle wallpaper with culinary motifs instead of rainforest fauna. But the root of all creativity begins and ends in the kitchen. Max's cooking style is emphatic, lively. He serves dishes meant to be enjoyed, not abstractly revered. The pleasure of eating, the taste, and the sensation are his priorities. He doesn’t shy away from bold combinations and reinterpretations. It’s no wonder a photograph of the dish "Burnt Leek" is framed on the restaurant wall. For Max, cooking is also an art. The art of enjoyment, of experience. Fine dining without pretentious frills.

In this spirit, Strohe launched the initiative "Cooking for Heroes" during the COVID-19 pandemic. He encouraged his industry colleagues to empty their now uselessly stocked refrigerators and create simple free meals from the supplies for nurses, doctors, caregivers, and firefighters. The response was enormous. Max's initiative gave chefs a purpose and the opportunity to do good during this uncertain time. For this commitment, he and his partner Ilona were awarded the Order of Merit by the Federal President.

Some might rest on these and many other successes in Max’s career. But watching him sitting in our Cologne showroom, bubbling with ideas, it quickly becomes clear that Max's creativity is far from exhausted. The next chapter: his own KAYA&KATO workwear collection for his team, but also for consumers who want to bring a piece of Strohe-inspired flair into their own kitchens. We look forward to the collaboration and can already reveal one thing: it will be colorful, wild, and unconventional.

Photo credit: Robert Schlesinger

Restaurant: Tulus Lotrek

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