Michelin-starred Chef Gagnaire's Les Solistes.

The Virtuoso

Pierre Gagnaire Brings His Culinary Genius To Waldorf Astoria Berlin

By Genevieve Ko

“Berlin has always been a dream destination for me.”

–Pierre Gagnaire

Pierre Gagnaire mixes well. In fact, the multi-Michelin-starred Gagnaire has spent his legendary career blending contradictory impulses, techniques, and ingredients into his own singular, wildly popular cuisine. His latest creation? Les Solistes by Pierre Gagnaire at Waldorf Astoria Berlin. Les solistes translates to "the soloists," a fitting name for a restaurant composed by this soloist of innovative cuisine.

With his unique artistry, Gagnaire balances the classic with the cutting edge. He juxtaposes flavors, textures, and temperatures in search of just the right note. Scallops with a hint of gingerbread? Of course. Mullet with gold leaf? You've come to the right place.

Gagnaire never predicts what he'll put on the menu, since, he says, his approach is deeply emotional, and dishes are created based on his feelings. He's influenced by art, music, literature—and the streets outside his door. "Berlin has always been a dream destination for me. I was born in the '50s, and the Berlin Wall was a great sadness. Seeing this city becoming so radiant and busy, I wanted to be part of it," he says. "I use German ingredients and the Berlin heritage plays a role in my cuisine here, but it is with my twist."

Gagnaire decided to be the patron chef of Les Solistes because of his special relationship with Waldorf Astoria. "I realized, through their approach to quality, that they would be able to respect both my cuisine and my team."

The son of a Michelin-starred chef, Gagnaire began his career at 14. He honed his skills around the world before returning to his father's restaurant in Saint Etienne, France, where he earned his first Michelin star in 1976. But when Gagnaire opened his own restaurants, his true experimentation began. Using exotic ingredients and tinkering with classic techniques, he developed his signature spontaneity in the kitchen, surprising—even happily shocking—diners with his bold creations. The risks paid off when he earned three Michelin stars in 1993.

Decades later,the Gagnaire empire keeps growing. He has 10 restaurants around the world, and this latest setting seems especially fitting. The Waldorf Astoria Berlin is set within a recently built modern skyscraper, in stark contrast to the classically styled Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church next door. Something new. Something timeless. It combines to make something beautiful.

Plating Dishes

Edible Art

The taste of Gagnaire's eccentric cuisine is matched only by the edible sculptures he designs when plating his food. He was one of the first chefs to approach his work as a visual art form. Like a painter, he marks his culinary "eras" by dish and year. Gagnaire counts Jackson Pollock and Cy Twombly among the visual artists who inspire his work—and it shows. Gagnaire fashions a mise-en-scè€ne for each dish, favoring an aesthetic that combines bold and delicate lines. In doing so, Gagnaire seeks to "give banal products a soul." Before a dish ever leaves his kitchen, Gagnaire examines it for its visual balance. If he finds even a single flaw in any of the details, he insists his chefs do it again.