One star replaces another
EIt’s an intergenerational change. Since 1987, this restaurant proudly carries a Michelin star. But, since the end of 2019, the place in Frisange does not belong to Léa Linster anymore, but to her son Louis (29). In 2017 he became the chef of this establishment that continues to carry the name of his famous mother. “The name has not changed, after all, it was my mother who made the place famous,” says Louis Linster. Apart from that, the new chef is making a few changes. Gentle chang- es, of course.
It was not always a given that Louis Linster would take over the restaurant. “After I’d finished school, I had had enough of the place,” he remembers. “For 18 years I’d been living above the restaurant and I wanted to see something else.” So he went to Lausanne to study business manage- ment, because it interested him. After two and a half years, he returned to Luxembourg. But before he could finish his bachelor, he started to help out his mother. “She was alone and needed a bit of support.”
He stayed in the restaurant. Not only because his mother decided that he was old enough to work in the kitchen. “I also began to really enjoy it,” says Louis Lin-
ster. “Maybe it’s in my genes. I grew up there. It was quite natural and I did not think about it too much.” That fact that the work was hard did not put him off. “I knew no other way. My mother worked 12 hours a day.”
Even as a nine-year-old he often used to help in the kitch- en on a Sunday. When he was twelve, he started making his own food from time to time: “Pasta, omelette, crêpes.” Later, he spent a lot of time in the kitchen as a teenager: “I tried different things until they worked out. I always want- ed to know why something was made this way and not a different way.” He does not have a traditional education. Louis Linster, like several other top chefs, is self-taught, and first and foremost his mother’s student. “I learnt a lot from her. I experimented a lot and read a lot of books.”
“It used to be a traditional French kitchen. Now it’s
a modern French kitchen with elements from the whole world.”
In 2012, he started to work in the kitchen at weekends. Since 2015, he has been working there full-time. And in 2017 he also took over the responsibility officially. “It was surely a bit difficult for my mother in the beginning,” says Louis Linster. Not so much worrying about the restaurant and the new chef: “But when you’ve been used to work every day for thirty years, it becomes difficult to stop from one day to the next, and not to receive the compliments of the clients anymore.”
Much has now changed. The staff – among them eight members in the kitchen and five in the service – were ex- changed. Instead of à la carte and a menu, there is now only the menu. However, that offers a lot of choice for the individual courses. Even the character of the kitchen has changed a bit, according to Louis Linster: “It used to be a traditional French kitchen. Now it’s a modern French kitchen with elements from the whole world.” The Miche- lin guide speaks of “an unobtrusive reinterpretation of traditional dishes.” Und what does Mum say? Louis Lin- ster laughs loudly: “She enjoys it too. She ate here only a few days ago.” She has not completely withdrawn into retirement: she is actively involved in many of the popular cooking courses.
Could Louis Linster become a similar- ly famous TV chef, just like his mother was especially on German TV? “That does not interest me at the moment. You have to set priorities. And if you’re on TV, you can’t be in the kitchen.” The prior- ities lie more in the direction of getting a second Michelin star. “It’s mostly about the validation that working fifteen hours every day is not for nothing.” He is happy about the many younger customers. “They are in their late twenties or ear- ly thirties and want to discover new things they have not seen before.” And if somebody asks for the famous saddle of lamb in a potato crust, with which Léa Linster won the highest cooking award, the “Bocuse d’Or”, in 1989, the only woman to have done so? You won’t find it on the menu anymore, but if you ask, you will receive it, of course.
RESTAURANT LÉA LINSTER
17, Lëtzebuergerstrooss — L-5752 Frisange
Tel. +352 / 23 66 84 11