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Fine Dining in Freiburg: Chris and Lina from the Jacobi Restaurant Introduce Themselves

With Jacobi, Christoph Kaiser and his team in Freiburg have created an address for fine dining where sustainability and regionality are the focus. All food comes from producers the team knows personally, except for coffee, chocolate and some spices.

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While looking for their first apartment together, Christoph Kaiser and Lina Ory happened to come across an advertisement for a room on Herrenstrasse in Freiburg, Germany, in spring of 2022. Chris is a chef who learned and worked in a Michelin-awarded kitchen, Lina is a passionate hostess. They want to become self-employed and this advert is just right for them. The market in Freiburg is an almost hopeless case. Despite the lack of pictures of the property and a descriptive text that only reveals the number of square meters and a rough rental price, they arrange a viewing appointment.

A few days later they are standing in the old winery, in the traditional Schwarzwälder Hof at Herrenstraße 43, where Johann Georg Jacobi once lived. “We were immediately impressed by the charm of the room and we immediately liked the landlords,” remembers Lina. They came up with the name for their restaurant as much by chance as they did with the location itself, says Chris:

“It was very difficult for us to come up with a name. At some point we stood in the sun opposite the winery at Café Strass and looked at the facade. There is a small memorial plaque for Johann Georg Jacobi, who lived on the 1st floor from 1807 to 1814. After a short research on the person, the name was decided.”

Jacobi was the first Protestant university professor and rector in the then strictly Catholic Freiburg, his department being the fine sciences. In his poetry he dedicated himself to the themes of friendship, love, sociability and wine, “very suitable for our restaurant,” says Lina. The memorial plaque was placed on the facade of Herrenstrasse 43 in 2014 to mark the poet's 200th birthday.

The start of the Jacobi restaurant

Chris' vision is clear: He wants to offer cuisine at the highest level and place a particular focus on sustainability, both ecologically and socially. With the exception of chocolate, coffee and some spices, everything comes from the region and is artfully draped on the plates in the Jacobi restaurant. The small team knows all the producers personally. The same applies to the winemakers from whom the wines for the 15-page wine list come, which the sommelier Sebastian Hernández Westpfahl regularly adapts and expands and visits various wineries and events by racing bike and train.

In order to realize the vision of a sophisticated restaurant, the old winery needs to be extensively renovated. A new kitchen is needed, as well as new tables, chairs and a modern lighting concept. Some of the old elements have been retained or are still visible in a recycled form, for example the old wine cabinet or the elaborately decorated metal wine bowl. The wooden paneling, which gave the Winzerstube its charm, is also part of the new concept.

Interior view of the Jacobi restaurant with wood-panelled walls, velvety orange seating and tables made of volcanic stone.

Interior view of the Jacobi restaurant with wood-panelled walls, velvety orange seating and tables made of volcanic stone. Photo by Shaolin Tran.

Chris and Lina put a lot of work into their new baby, applying for loans, making contacts, coordinating the craft work and lending a hand themselves. Chris' parents also help out diligently. In December 2022 the time has come and Jacobi will open its doors to interested gourmets. We also visited in the meantime.

The Jacobi Experience

The first guests who have previously reserved a table via the restaurant's website arrive at Jacobi from 6:30 p.m. You can expect a seven to nine course meal and a culinary experience over approximately three hours that is second to none. You forget about time as soon as you push aside the heavy curtain of the entrance area. The tables made of lava stone and the orange-colored, velvety seating are set stylishly in the wooden brown of the former winery. The team welcomes and looks after its guests in a highly professional manner, with a pleasant, attentive friendliness. For each course, guests learn where the ingredients used comes from, and the same applies to the wines if a wine accompaniment is desired. You can learn a lot about the region's producers, farms, about winegrowers and the nature of their cultivation areas, and the sophisticated combinations on the plate and in the glass. The cuisine is very vegetable-heavy, but the team alternates between using fish from the Old Rhine as well as game, pasture-raised chicken and pasture-raised beef from the region for its guests.

Kohlrabi dish from the Jacobi restaurant.

Dish with kohlrabi from the Jacobi restaurant. Photo by Christoph Kaiser.

The restaurant team ensures excellent dishes and a successful, relaxed atmosphere in which we always felt comfortable. Lina and Sebastian are responsible for the service. They are always attentive, willing to provide information and warm and are there for the guests without being intrusive. We are full of praise and are pleased that we can contribute a small part to the Jacobi experience with our coffee beans. If you would like to read other experiences in addition to our highest tones, you can find reviews on Google and some awards for the Restaurant Jacobi.

Sustainability and fairness are lived at Jacobi

As the boss, Chris is the first in the restaurant and is usually there in the morning. The rest of his team gradually comes to Herrenstrasse from midday onwards to start their working day after a Marcello Sweet from the Moccamaster. That means: shopping at the Münstermarkt next door, doing office work, making the first preparations in the kitchen and so on. In addition to Chris, the kitchen team consists of Cedrik Wildenheim, Manuel Offermann and Glenn Lamla. At Jacobi, everyone works on an equal footing, exchanges feedback every day and provides each other with feedback. New ideas and dishes are discussed together, tried and then adapted or rejected. Before we start preparing for the evening, the kitchen takes care of a delicious staff meal.

Cedrik Wildenheim and Christoph Kaiser. Photos by Felix Groteloh.

The chefs Cedrik Wildenheim and Christoph Kaiser. Photos by Felix Groteloh.

Glenn Lamla and Manuel Offermann. Photos by Felix Groteloh.

The trainee Glenn Lamla and chef Manuel Offermann. Photos by Felix Groteloh.

The kitchen team attaches particular importance to producing as little waste as possible. If possible, the entire product is served on the plate, which works wonderfully thanks to the menu model. Peels and leaves from vegetables and fruit find their way into the aisles, as do all parts of the purchased animals. “We all have our share of social responsibility to work more sustainably in order to counteract climate change and resource scarcity. This should not be taken lightly. Anyone who preaches sustainability should act accordingly. This applies to both the provider side and the customer side,” says Chris.

When it comes to wages and working hours, things are also much fairer at Jacobi than is usually the case in the catering industry. Anyone who has ever worked in this area knows that paying employees minimum wage while simultaneously working absurd, illegally long shifts is part of everyday life. Chris thinks differently here and sees an urgent need for action: “Anyone who complains about a lack of staff on the one hand, but on the other hand treats their employees unfairly just because that’s supposedly common in our industry, shouldn’t be surprised.”

Sebastian Hernández Westpfahl and Lina Ory. Photos by Felix Groteloh.

Sommelier Sebastian Hernández Westpfahl and host Lina Ory. Photos by Felix Groteloh.

In the summer months, the working day for the Jacobi team sometimes begins outside the four walls. They then diligently collect seasonal foods that are cooked and preserved for the winter in order to conjure up an exciting variety of flavors on the plate even in the cold season, without having to resort to non-regional foods.

Labels, greenwashing and co

The Jacobis choose their business partners carefully: “Sympathy and transparency play the main roles,” says Lina. The team doesn't fundamentally reject certificates and labels, but since they know all of their producers personally and visit them again and again, they prefer to make sure that they also practice social and ecological sustainability. “Certifications are often not worthwhile for small businesses, which is why personal contact is even more important,” says Chris.

The Jacobi is involved in the “Die Gemeinschaft” initiative, which aims to find solutions for more sustainable action in the catering industry, but also in producers. “Unfortunately, greenwashing is a widespread phenomenon. Some people claim to focus on regionality, where ultimately a single regional product is processed, while the majority of products have nothing whatsoever to do with regionality. This is usually very opaque for guests, which is why we actively explain our products,” explains Lina.

Visit Restaurant Jacobi in Freiburg

A visit to Jacobi is an experience that you won't soon forget. Connoisseurs of fine cuisine will get their money's worth here - even without the typical luxury of oysters, lobster and caviar, some of which fly halfway around the world. Christoph Kaiser's kitchen team is bursting with craftsmanship and creative precision. Through their work, the regional foods develop the taste details that dreams are made of. Newcomers to the world of fine dining can get to know familiar things from the region here. You can find the Jacobi here:

Restaurant Jacobi
Herrenstrasse 43
79098 Freiburg

Last but not least, it should be mentioned that the experience is also clearly reflected in the price: the 7-course menu costs €165 per person. If you want and can afford it, you should definitely try it. The team asks that you reserve in advance via the website.

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