In this section, we introduce members of the Berliner Philharmoniker and their extramusical passions. Today: Violist Martin von der Nahmer cooks up a storm
The English poet George Meredith prophesied: “When all arts perish, the fair art of cooking will endure”. Thankfully, this prediction has not yet been put to the test. But Martin von der Nahmer is also completely convinced that cooking is a real art. For around ten years now, the violist of the Berliner Philharmoniker has been deeply involved in the art of preparing food. It sounds abstract, but for Martin von der Nahmer it is an almost sensual process.
“Cooking has something meditative about it,” explains the 45-year-old, “it’s a wonderful way to clear your head.” He loves cooking for friends, creating dishes and planning their preparation. “Unlike my wife, who likes to improvise in the kitchen, I usually cook according to a recipe book,” he admits with a smile. At the moment, he is very fond of the recipes of Yotam Ottolenghi: he grew up in Jerusalem as the son of an Italian and a German and went to London in 1997, where he graduated from the famous Le Cordon Bleu cooking school. What is special about Ottolenghi's dishes? Martin von der Nahmer gives it some thought. “He simply masters the interplay of flavours perfectly,” says the violist. In addition, Ottolenghi creates exciting meatless dishes and has helped vegetarian cuisine to make a breakthrough.
We are having this conversation in the canteen of the Philharmonie Berlin. It’s dinnertime, and the smell of traditional Berlin roast pork with red cabbage and dumplings is in the air. “Even home cooking can be sophisticated,” says the Wuppertal-born musician, who has been a member of the Philharmoniker viola section since 2004. “I’m actually open to everything, as long as it’s been prepared with commitment and with good ingredients.”
Is there anything he absolutely does not like? “I once ate jellyfish in Japan. It wasn’t for me, and the consistency in particular took some getting used to.” But fortunately, that was only an exception, because he really likes Japanese cuisine. Martin von der Nahmer smiles: “But the jellyfish was a dinner invitation, and I didn’t want to be rude. So I just ate it all up.”
At the end of our conversation, I ask Martin von der Nahmer for two or three restaurant recommendations. “The Berlin restaurant scene is very diverse and has an incredible amount to offer,” he says. “I really like the restaurant eins44 Kantine Neukölln. Horváth in Kreuzberg is really excellent and has become one of the culinary classics of the city. And in the Skykitchen on Landsberger Allee you not only eat superbly, but also have a magnificent view over Berlin from the 12th floor.”
The break is over and the musicians are called back on stage. Finally, I wanted to know if his profession and his hobby had anything in common. Cooking in a top restaurant and playing in a leading orchestra would indeed be comparable in a certain way, Martin von der Nahmer replies: “In both cases it’s about perfection – the perfect sound and the perfect flavour.”
From the current issue of Phil – Das Magazin der Berliner Philharmoniker.