Bernd H.Knöller Headchef and Owner
Born on the 19th March (San Jose),
1962 in a pretty town in the Black Forest (Germany), Bernd began his apprenticeship aged 15 at the Ochsen Hotel.
Three years later he went work in the Kensington International Hilton in London. His idea was to learn English, in order to be able to travel and work anywhere in the world.
Later he moved to the Grosvenor Hotel in Chester a beautiful town on the border with Wales, where luckily there were few Germans to distract him from his English studies. The Head of kitchen, Don Gilbert Schneider, a Frenchman, was able to show Bernd that being a chef is not simply a matter of hard work, but should include elements of creativity, art and individuality.
By 1982 Bernd was working in Walliser Stuben’s restaurant in Dusseldorf, that had already been awarded 2 Michelín stars, with French heads of kitchen who spoke no German (years earlier Jean Luis Neichel, who later went to El Bulli, also worked there).
‘All modern techniques have their basis in classical ones’. Sufficient reason to spend one season in Switzerland in a traditional hotel of, basing the daily menu almost entirely on the classic recipe books of Escoffier.
Bernd’s great teacher however was and is Henry Levy, a Frenchman who at the time had one of the best restaurants of Germany: The Maître Restaurant in Berlin. “Henry Levy was the most creative cook that I knew, his wealth of ideas was inexhaustible. I learned an enormous amount”. After that extreme experience, and total dedication to top level cooking,
Bernd began to worry about becoming a one trick pony or perhaps a kind of culinary idiot savant. It was time to step out of the world of gastronomy.
The following three years were spent doing social work and theatre, also a useful form of apprenticeship for gastronomy.
He returned to the kitchen at the 2 star Nösse (now Restaurant Jörg Müller), with Jörg Müller, on the wonderful island of Sylt.
In 1991 came his move to Pedro Subijana’s Akelarre, without doubt an important stage in his career, Bernd still has a special relationship with Pedro. The definitive move to Spain (after meeting his first wife, Lydia Martin) began in the restaurant Ma Cuina before it closed definitively in December 1991.
The year and a half working in the Pizzería Sorrento begin only after three conditions were negotiated: firstly that his family (his son first Yannick had been born) could eat with the staff, secondly that the restaurant purchase pasta machine and thirdly that they removed the plastic flowers from the tables.
In 1993 he opened his first Restaurant in Valencia, The Angel Azul which was well received and achieved some important reviews and prizes.
In 1995 his second Bastian son was born.
On September 10, 2001, on the eve of the attack on New York, Bernd realised his dream and opened the Restaurant RiFF, going on to receive his first Michelin star in 2009 and two suns in Repsol 2014.