24. April 2022


They describe their concept as "brutally regional" and also as "Germany's most political restaurant".


Nobelhart and Schmutzig only process products from the Berlin area in their restaurant. The owners Billy Wagner and Micha Schäfer serve their guests a regional 10-course menu, accompanied by exquisite wines.


I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing Billy Wagner at his place of work. You can read here what interesting things he told me.

The reputation of being the most political restaurant in Germany precedes you. What's it all about?

egg and leek at Nobelhart & Schmutzig
Billy Wagner: First of all, we understand our corporate purchasing behavior as a political statement. Because what is bought will continue to be produced. So food or consumption in general is always a political statement that each and every one of us makes every day. This awareness gives us as a restaurant a good guideline for our entrepreneurial actions, especially for our purchasing decisions.

So that applies to procurement...

toilet signs at Nobelhart & Schmutzig

Billy Wagner: … In addition to our shopping behavior, we think a lot about how we want to present ourselves as a gastronomic company and what conversations and discussions we want to initiate in society. For example, anti-discrimination is very important to us. That's why we have redesigned our toilet signs so that people who are not clearly male or female can now also feel addressed.

An evening at Nobelhart & Schmutzig is definitely a luxury. Do you think luxury and sustainability go together?

Upscale gastronomy, Nobelhart & Schmutzig

Billy Wagner: Definitely. For us, luxury means: coming to Nobelhart & Schmutzig and having time, being able to put away your mobile phone and, of course, being able to afford it here. Luxury in the classic sense is based on a different set of values. We, on the other hand, are playing with the new values. People who come to us consider it a luxury to support our entire value chain with their money. Our guests can be sure that our employees and producers make a good living and e.g. interns cannot work without pay. For example, they understand luxury as knowing where the carrot on their plate came from and how the animals were fed and kept before they became part of our dishes.

You get your products directly from the suppliers and not through intermediaries. Isn't that incredibly complicated?

Micha Schäfer - Nobelhart & Schmutzig

Billy Wagner: We aim to process the best food and to respect the people who produce it. Micha Schäfer and his team are in direct contact with our producers and always know what's going on in their lives, e.g. who currently has products of a special quality or who is currently struggling with difficulties. They make their purchasing decisions based on this.

But isn't that a matter of course, at least in upscale gastronomy?

Billy Wagner: In most catering establishments, chefs are often decoupled from product procurement and hardly know anything about the challenges on the producer side. We focus on the people who produce for us. This means that completely different criteria count for us than just the purchase prices. This not inconsiderable additional effort pays off in turn due to the high prices that you pay with us.

Do the guests appreciate that?

Herbal mushroom-Nobelhart & Schmutzig

Billy Wagner: Our guests see the additional effort and reward it by being willing to pay the prices that we charge for our food and drinks. But in fact, we make this effort primarily for ourselves, i.e. for our employees, who have decided to work with us and not in a backward-looking restaurant for precisely this reason. So our concept helps us position ourselves as an employer and attract people who share our values.

How do you make sure it's a win-win situation for both, you and the producers?

Billy Wagner at Nobelhart & Schmutzig

Billy Wagner: We consciously ask whether the collaboration is also a win situation for our producers. In the annual gardener talks, we ask, for example, whether our purchase prices have enabled them to make a good living or whether we have to correct the prices in the coming year. We also ask if we have bought the right amount from them or if they would like to buy more or less next year. We see the benefit for us primarily in the fact that we get the best products and learn what agriculture is really about. This is also a great learning experience for our employees.

How important is the Guide Michelin endorsement to you?

Berlin, Nobelhart & Schmutzig

Billy Wagner: The mention in the Michelin Guide and also in The World's 50 Best is an important sales argument for us, especially for our international clientele. Those who don't know us yet and are in Berlin for the first time often come to us via these channels. For customers who already know us, this is not so important.

What initially drove you, what was your vision?

Billy Wagner: When we first started out in 2015, two things were very clear. We wanted to create a restaurant where, as a guest, you can get very close to the craft. Therefore, the kitchen is in our guest room and guests can watch our team at work. We were also sure that we wanted to cook regionally. Everything else has built on it or changed over the years.

Armed with the current knowledge about the challenges etc. - would you do it again?

Billy Wagner

Billy Wagner: (laughs) yes, I would do it again. Nobelhart &Schmutzig is also a kind of self-realization place for Micha and me. We can do things here the way we think is right and good. And we can also develop personally very strongly with the restaurant. Because we allow ourselves to ask us questions such as "What do I have to do to be able to work well?" Or also "How do I want to shape my life?" And I benefit every day from the wonderful food that we process here. As a private person, you would have to put in a lot of effort to get such quality. And here it is part of our “daily business”.

Have you ever regretted starting your own business?

Billy Wagner: Of course, the past two years have been very exhausting at times due to Corona. But I've never regretted it. I am grateful that we have already achieved so much together and have been able to contribute to a change in gastronomy and also in society.

What's next for Nobelhart & Schmutzig?

Nobelhart & Schmutzig in Berlin

Billy Wagner: We are currently very much concerned with the topic of anti-discrimination and want to focus even more on it in the future. For example, we think a lot about things like equal pay or diversity. Why do we receive applications predominantly from men and so few from people with an immigrant background? And how can we change so that more women feel addressed by us as employers? An important topic, in our opinion – with a lot of need for action. In general, we want to ensure that our work remains interesting and that we continue to move forward and not remain where we are. And of course we want to continue to take care of food & drinks😊.


Nobelhart & Schmutzig Berlin

Nobelhart & Schmutzig proves impressively that a restaurant can be about much more than just serving food and drinks. The combination of "brutally regional" and "Germany's most political restaurant" is unparalleled in the industry. In fact, I've never met a gastronomic company that cares as much about social issues as Nobelhart & Schmutzig. Here, both the producers and the employees are brought into focus - a wonderful role model function for the hospitality industry. Thank you for your valuable work!


Would you also like to develop your company sustainably? DAS HELDEN-ATELIER will be happy to support you on your way. Take a look around the website and get in touch with me. I look forward to you and your company!




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