Nearly 30 years ago, Kevin Fehling set out on a journey to pursue his passion for food. Now a Michelin three-star chef, the result of many years of hard work is Hamburg’s The Table restaurant and its companion Puzzle Bar. Complementing their gourmet food and cocktails, the vision of Kevin and partner Dennis Ilies ensures that their ambience and customer experience are rated just as highly.
Born in Delmenhorst, near Bremen, Kevin was determined to become the best chef he could possibly be by hard work, learning as much as possible from every job and always setting new goals. This thirst for knowledge led him to work in a range of Michelin-starred restaurants, two years on the Hapag-Lloyd luxury cruise ship MS Europa and ten years as head chef at La Belle Epoque in Lübeck.
In 2015 he opened The Table in Hamburg, a gourmet restaurant where his goal was to set new conceptual standards in gastronomy.
“One is the quality, taste and composition of the different ingredients in the dish. But the other is to inspire the guest with a sensory experience - what they see, hear and feel, as well as taste,” says Kevin. “From meeting them at the entrance to the feel of sitting in the chair and at the table, the ambience created by the sound, light and temperature. From the first sentence that the service waiter utters to the last, it should all connect on an emotionally subconscious level, in a way that the guest does not even think about it.”
The centrepiece of The Table is its namesake, a long, wooden table that winds its way through the ground floor, echoing how the river Elbe meanders through Hamburg. Being fully booked a year in advance, Kevin’s passion and concept for The Table has delivered a spectacularly successful, ultra-high quality gastronomic experience.
For some time he considered opening a second restaurant in Frankfurt, Munich, Berlin, or maybe Paris or London. But Kevin’s ambition and hunger for knowledge is reflected in his former sous chef, Dennis Ilies, and was a source of fresh inspiration.
“Dennis was determined to follow his instincts. I felt such creativity and passion coming from him that opening another concept together made complete sense,” Kevin says. “We share a passion for drinking cocktails, so we worked out how to combine our talents and create extraordinary cocktails which have not existed before. It was the same approach as The Table, but in liquid form.”
Kevin and Dennis experimented with creating cocktails inspired by food dishes from The Table, their attention to detail so intense that he admits to working on an ice cube “for about a year and a half.” They named the new venture the Puzzle Bar.
“Finding the symbiosis between food and cocktails was the first piece of the puzzle,” says Kevin. “The second piece was, as with The Table, putting together the different elements to create a complete sensory experience for the customer. The third was the cocktails, which are puzzles in themselves. You take the various pieces, put them together and transform them into perfection in the glass.”
The Puzzle Bar is located five minutes from The Table, which is also a short distance from Hamburg’s cruise ship terminal where Kevin has another restaurant, The Globe.
“We run a shuttle service: from restaurant to bar and from bar to restaurant. It is all designed to make sure that every part of the customer experience is of the highest quality,” says Kevin.
“For me, it has always been extremely important to have goals. I want to inspire gastronomes to have confidence in their own creativity, belief in the future and to set goals. It is not always easy, but it is worth it. I have always believed that, if I do not set myself goals, I cannot achieve them.”
Both The Table and Puzzle Bar feature discreet Yamaha audio systems, designed by Yamaha Music Europe’s Gerrit Carstens to blend seamlessly into the overall customer experience.
In The Table, background music is delivered by four pairs of VXS8 surface mount speakers, powered by an MA2120 mixer amplifier and a PA2120 power amplifier.
The Puzzle Bar features an MTX3 matrix processor and XMV8280 multi-channel power amplifier, with six VXS5 surface mount speakers in the main bar area, reinforced by three HS8S powered subwoofers integrated into the bar with custom made housings and covers. Two VXC5F ceiling speakers cover the rest rooms.
On the outdoor balcony, eight more VXS5s have been cleverly hidden in a waterproof compartment at the base of specially-designed plant pots, allowing the decorative plants to enhance the ambience, while high quality music is emitted from grilles in the pots below.