Harald Wohlfahrt, one of Germany's most eminent chefs, is used to clients from all over the globe flocking to his gourmet temple in the Black Forest. But even this seasoned chef and recipient of three stars by the Michelin restaurant guides to Europe was probably not prepared for his latest cooking contract -- it came all the way from space.
Wohlfahrt's fancy "Schwarzwaldstube" restaurant in Baiersbronn in the western state of Baden-Wuerttemberg is to provide meals for astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) starting next year.
The European Space Agency (ESA), co-owner of the orbiting laboratory complex, which recommended Wohlfahrt, said the ISS astronauts had so far been nourishing themselves on Russian and American nosh. Good food doesn't just keep the crew fit but also improves their motivation, the ESA said.
In keeping with that principle, the astronauts had requested stronger flavors and more soups and meat dishes because life on the sterile space station diminished the sense of smell and taste.
Taking his inspiration from southern Germany's hearty cuisine, Wohlfahrt has concocted a special space menu. For starters, there's a potato soup with chunks of black pudding followed by filet of veal and vegetables in a balsamic vinegar sauce, accompanied by a puree of white beans. The delectable-sounding meal is rounded by a compote of Black Forest plums with an aniseed sauce for dessert.
Alas, the region's famous wines won't make it on to the menu since alcohol is banned on the ISS. Instead, there will be juice in a powder form that the crew will need to dilute with water. The elaborate grub will be filled in metal jars and the first load will be shot into space in March next year.
Wohlfahrt, 52, however, won't be serving the food himself. "No thanks. I prefer to keep my feet on the ground," he's reported to have said.