“After specialising in restaurant pastry I thought, what’s next? A pastry shop? A chocolate shop? No! I wanted to have my own dessert restaurant,” explains head chef René Frank. Frank was linked to the current manager Oliver Bischoff by mutual friends because they shared the same dream of opening a dessert restaurant. In 2016, they opened CODA: the first dessert restaurant in Germany. “It’s not just the fact that we only serve desserts that makes us unique. The desserts themselves are also unique.”
Six desserts, zero sugar
The CODA dinner concept consists of six courses including drinks, all without sugar. Frank: “If you were to eat six courses of normal desserts you will probably get sick or fall into sugar shock. That’s why we don’t work with industrial sugar. We have our own techniques to get the natural sweetness out of products.” Everything CODA serves is natural and comes out of the kitchen, including the drinks. “We never serve a normal wine or beer; we always create new drink combinations. The drink is like a dressing or a sauce: it’s a component of the dish which belongs on the plate but is served in a glass. Sometimes it’s an additional component and sometimes we recreate flavours of the dish in the drink.” Because everything comes out of the kitchen, CODA has no waiting staff. “The aim is that everybody who works here is able to serve and cook at the same time.”
Sweet memories and local habitats
When you serve six courses of dessert, you should follow the five tastes, according to Frank. “Sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami. So even if you don’t like desserts you can still visit CODA. We don’t make the classical desserts.” Frank does, however, get inspired by traditional desserts. “My main inspiration comes from childhood memories. For example the French moelleux I used to eat when I was young. It’s so cool that the cake is solid on the outside but has a liquid inside. Although we would never copy a dessert, we do get inspiration to create new cool combinations. Based on the moelleux, we created a kind of cheesecake with liquid cheese coming out. In this example we only used the technique while the rest of the dessert had nothing in common with a traditional, sweet French moelleux.”
Frank is also inspired by dessert habitats around the world. “In Turkey they have a lot of aubergines so they use aubergines in their desserts. In Asia they use avocado, in Spain they use pork fat in pastry, in Korea they use tomatoes and in South America they create desserts from sweet potatoes. Almost everything can be used in desserts.”
All the pieces come together
Oliver Bischoff is the brain behind the interior of CODA, which is also an important part of the whole experience. Bischoff: “You can do four things quite well, but if you fail at one, your business will not go well. You must have a kind of language in all the communication, like a story.” In the interior of CODA, Bischoff focused on a clean and straight design. “Our guests need to concentrate on the food and the kitchen.” That is why the CODA kitchen is open. “Whenever a guest has a question, he/she can basically just walk into the kitchen to see the process, technique and what is happening. We don’t want a separation between the guest and the kitchen.”
The other reason why guests can just walk into the kitchen in the evening is because of the great amount of preparation that has taken place during the day. Bischoff: “At night it’s clean and calm in the kitchen. We barely talk to each other. This is a 100% ‘mise en place’ kitchen. The plating is like a puzzle. We just put all the pieces together.”
Inspired by CODA? You might also be interested in our article about raw vegan desserts and treats in Budapest or the Pastryclub’s open kitchen in the Netherlands.
Disclaimer: the selection of this concept was done on an editorial basis. There is no commercial link in relation to this article.