Oscar Niemeyer’s construction is hidden in a heavy industrial complex in Leipzig. The owner had the restaurant built especially for the chef

“These are trams to Bielefeld and Dortmund, or we have a train to Nigeria,” tour guide Anica Kehr shows current production at the Heiterblick and Kirow factories. They have one owner. His name is Ludwig Koehne.

“He loves art and architecture, he also collects art. This is his Zen garden and his passion at the same time,” says Anica as she leads us from an ordinary factory hall to another industrial building with a small gallery inside.

Sophisticated structure

There are two of them in total, the exhibitions change three times a year. But the biggest showpiece is the huge white and glass ball that rises from the former rough-brick boiler house. It is entered by stairs from the second floor of the house.

“The kitchen is on the ground floor. Under the pub. To the Canteen. We have a very complex system of six or seven elevators that transport food here,” explains Anica as the food reaches the restaurant with tables and a few chairs.

On the inside of the sphere, the most attention is drawn by the triangular windows of various shades, bent so as to round the surface of the sphere. “The windows are special. Inside the tables are liquid crystals, each window can darken or lighten depending on the amount of UV radiation outside,” explains the guide.

Only those who sign up on the waiting list in time can eat in the round restaurant

It combines architecture, art and food

From the sphere called the Niemeyer sphere, you can climb up to the roof, to the terrace with seating. The construction took several years and was very expensive, Anica shows with a wooden model of the area, on which there is still a small pool or fountain in the place of the current parking lot.

“During the construction of the Niemeyer Sphere, we had a large order in China for ten rail cranes, so we had the money to build the sphere,” he explains and says that he is waiting for another larger project that will allow the completion of the area.

The owner of the factory had a restaurant built for the chef in Leipzig according to the project of the Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer.

Fifty-two-year-old chef Tibor Herzigkeit cooks in the restaurant: “I want to send off my dishes to the guests in an unusual place, in the environment of heavy industry, where a beautiful building by Oskar Niemeyer is now located.” First of all, it’s about people spending an unusually pleasant evening here with interesting architecture, art and food. I want to surprise you, provoke you, even make you laugh with my food.”

He wanted it since he was little

From an early age, Tibor wanted to cook on a ship and travel, but as a resident of East Germany with relatives in the West, he could not. That’s why he started in Zitau, after the fall of the communist regime he replaced several places of activity in Germany.

“I experienced cooking with regional food for the first time in Kiel, there was cooking at a high level, and the quality requirements were high. Then I arrived in Leipzig, where an acquaintance opened a Kuhinja restaurant, and I stayed there for several years. We managed to build a legendary restaurant in Leipzig that worked for 10 years and is still the talk of Leipzig today. It became a cult in Leipzig, where we allowed ourselves to experiment,” says the chef.

He then gained further experience in Africa: “In Port Elizabeth, as in Cape Town, I was able to cook with the best ingredients that were simply available on the spot, such as fish, seafood, vegetables, fruit, whatever I had on hand in the best quality.” In addition, a great mix of cultures and people. I still draw inspiration from this today,” recalls Tibor.

You deserve Niemeyer

He was offered a job in Leipzig while he was in Hastings on the south coast of England. The owner of the factories, Ludwig Koehne, knew his food from the catering prepared by Tibor Herzigkeit in the canteen in Leipzig. He accepted the offer, he was fascinated by the industrial environment. But after five years, the boss needed a change and was looking for a new job. The owner of the factory did not want to lose it and turned to the Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer to build a unique restaurant in Leipzig.

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“Ludwig Koehne is a big fan of Niemeyer’s architecture. “When he fulfilled the contract in Rio de Janeiro, he passed by the architect’s buildings there and then wrote him a letter asking him if he could suggest expanding the company’s canteen, because its chef is too good to cook only lunches,” says the tour guide. Anica Kehr, explaining the background to the construction of the sphere.

Niemeyer designed the building shortly before his death. He died in 2012 at the age of 104. However, the construction was completed only in 2020. The chef thus cooked in the conditions in which the canteen was also being renovated, working in temporary premises. Then came covid. But he persevered at work. And now every Wednesday evening he serves people a special twelve-course menu.

He makes even those stupid scrambled eggs for breakfast better!

Gabriela Plačková

“For example, roasted watermelon, which is basically a substitute for tuna, and it looks like that. Or beetroot ice cream, which I was inspired by during a Sunday lunch at my Czech partner’s father, who comes from a small village near Prague. Then he prepared us a cream of beetroot soup which delighted me. So I used it for ice cream and served it with fennel, cucumber and apple salsa,” the chef explains in one of his recipes.

Tibor’s girlfriend Gabrijela Plačkova confirms that he is a demanding chef who does not agree to his demands.

“I’m not saying that because I’m his partner, because he’s quite unbearable in the kitchen and not everyone can stand him. But he’ll make even a stupid scrambled egg for breakfast better. “Cooking is Tibor’s passion, and in the ten years we’ve been together, I can confirm that he cooks stew or wraps steaks for the canteen with the same dedication, or spends his free weekends putting together a menu and trying new things. they can prepare,” reveals Gabriela Plačková.

Windows are special.  Inside the tables are liquid crystals, each window can darken or lighten depending on the amount of UV radiation outside

The Leipzig complex of factories and galleries is called Technesfera. It is partially freely available. Anyone can come and eat in the canteen. But only those who register on time on the waiting list can enter the round restaurant.

“Our Wednesday evenings are already booked until the end of the year, and those interested are waiting for us to start accepting reservations for next year in September,” says Herzigkeit. According to Anica Kehr, the price of a visit for one person is approximately 130 euros.

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