Wolfsjunge was the first organic certified restaurant to open in Hamburg, the food is a gorgeous amalgam of seasonal, comforting, creative fare.
Wolfsjunge is a cozy and charming little restaurant tucked away in a quiet part of Hamburg. It’s located in an elegant neighborhood to the east of Alster Lake, where life feels more provincial and peaceful than in the city center. It is in this beautiful, slightly off-the-beaten-path location where much of Hamburg’s sustainable food movement was born, thanks to a clever and conscious chef by the name of Sebastian Junge.
Sebastian Junge is a native of Hamburg and started his training in the kitchens of the most illustrious hotels in his hometown, including the Fairmont Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten. He did a stint in Australia for a year, working in various kitchens across the continent. Throughout his career, Chef Junge was always highly attentive to where his food comes from and who produces it. He is politically active in the sustainable food movement and has addressed crowds of over 40,000 about sustainability in hospitality.
“I always was looking for work where I could really know the background of my produce and the people who grow it. I began really connecting with producers as to how is the food system working and how is agriculture working. I spent a lot of time with slow food. [I did] a lot of traineeships on organic farms and bakeries then with a slaughter and with fishermen, just to soak up a lot of knowledge.”
After many years of collecting firsthand knowledge of every part of the food system, Chef Junge was ready to open up his own business and kitchen. He opened Wolfsjunge, an establishment with much significance as one of the first sustainable restaurants in all of Hamburg.
“This restaurant I designed for being all-over sustainable. We don’t just use organic produce for the kitchen. We also look at what kind of candles we reuse, what kind of toilet paper. How can we reduce our footprint? When it comes to the restaurant, the slogan is ‘Land un Handgemacht’ which means ‘Country and Handmade.’ On one hand, it’s pretty important where our produce is and who is going to grow it, who raises the cattle. It should be around Hamburg and it should be organic. And the other one is handmade, so everything we serve here is made on our own. We bake our own bread, all the petit fours like macarons and truffles, and even when it comes to the lunch sausages and stuff like this, we do it all on our own.”
Wolfsjunge’s rustic charm reflects the restaurant’s devotion to preserving the land and its roots. The interior design is simple and comforting, with small wooden tables, minimalist banquettes and views of the leafy neighborhood from wide windows. There’s a flourishing garden with a little compost outside, from which leafy greens and vegetables are harvested then go straight onto plates. Bottles of local wines and liquors by artisan producers from around Hamburg are lovingly displayed around the bar. As the restaurant’s slogan suggests, everything about Wolfsjunge feels organic and handmade.
The food is a gorgeous amalgam of seasonal, comforting, creative fare. Lunch is a charming and rustic affair at Wolfsjunge. Most lunch dishes are based on hearty French and German classics featuring braised meats, sausages, and the works. Dinnertime is when Chef Junge shows off his truly colorful and innovative chops. Duck, plum and red cabbage fermented from his garden. Onsen egg, potato foam and venison ham. Beef’s tongue, celery and stockfish. Chef Junge beautifully elaborates the emblematic products of his native region while illustrating tricks from around the world he’s picked up along the way.
Wolfsjunge was the first organic certified restaurant to open in Hamburg so everything found on the plates is organic and fair trade. All of the products come from within 200 km of Hamburg. Chef Junge has a trusty sustainable fishmonger whose fish is largely line-caught. The meat comes directly from the farms and is biodynamic. He uses every single part of each animal he orders, and even works with deer and other animals from the wild (according to Chef Junge, wild animals are as organic as it gets).
It’s no wonder that Wolfsjunge has led the way in sustainable and organic dining in Hamburg. The restaurant has influenced other chefs to take the plunge into all-around sustainability and has cultivated tighter relationships with local producers. Sebastian Junge strives for a vision in which our food systems and hospitality industry work with the environment and fully commit to its conservation for the future.
“I want to make sustainability in everyone’s life happen. Just train people and inform people about what we’re doing and why we’re doing this exactly that way. I’ve got no financial goals or to get a Michelin star or anything. All of it would be great if we get financial success or a Michelin star or whatever. But [for me,] it’s nothing financial or fame. I just want to cook exactly like this straightforward [food] like I always imagined.”