No ideas are off-limits, and amazement is practically guaranteed. “My main goal was to give young people the chance to explore their desires and ideas for the restaurant world without bias,” says Faber, who adds that many of the ideas developed within the contest end up becoming reality soon after. The renowned restaurant expert never fails to find big-name hospitality, science and industry specialists to serve as jurors.
Food industry companies – Rational AG, for example – are happy to sign on as sponsors, too. “We’re glad to help offer restaurateurs, hoteliers and designers a space where they can explore ways to surprise and excite customers in the future,” says Nicolas Makowski, Rational AG Key Account Director.
Faber started the competition in 2004 among interior design students at the Munich Academy of Fine Arts. First prize went to a visionary multifunctional concept called “from dusk till dawn”: chic boutique by day, trendy club by night. The operators of the two businesses would share the rent – synergy in its purest form!
Subsequent entries were no less creative. In 2006, master carpenters and students at the Professional Academy of Wood Design in Garmisch-Partenkirchen tackled the theme of “open-air gastronomy”. The winner was “Blattwerk” (foliage), a magical setting where customers dine beneath giant leaves. The 2008 competition was open to Innovation and Management in Tourism majors at the Salzburg Professional School; first prize went to “Mood Pebbles”, in which customers dined on the water inside cozy spheres where they could customize the light and music to create their own little worlds.
The 2010 competition pitted Architecture and Building Technology students at Biberach University against one another on the topic of “Energy Technology of the Future”; the winning concept was “Pfundlos” (poundless), a clever combination of restaurant and fitness studio where the workout equipment generates electricity to run the restaurant. Using the equipment would earn customers bonus points they could then spend on food and drink.
Two years later, master carpenters studying at the Academy of Interior and Object Design in Garmisch-Partenkirchen explored the interplay between tradition in progress under a competition theme of “Back to the roots”. First prize went to an idea for a restaurant where customers could sit down to eat with friends in faraway places… using holograms! The 2014 competition invited students at the Academy of Fine Arts in Stuttgart to explore “The Next Generation”. That year’s winning concept was “Eremitage” (Hermitage), which invited solo diners to seat themselves at one long dining table – a moving experience for anyone who’s ever been relegated to “overflow” seating!
The 2016 competition among students at the Academy of Interior and Object Design in Garmisch-Partenkirchen explored topics of home and regionality through the overarching theme of “Generation Outdoor”. At the top of the heap was a courageous concept called “Graf und Zeppelin” (Count and Zeppelin), which breathed new and better life into the former Nazi Party rally grounds in Nuremberg, turning it into a local recreation area. Among other things, the idea included a documentation center called “Fascination and Violence”, as well as a very special restaurant housed in a futuristic building whose all-glass walls opened like eyes.
Thanks to a cooperative effort with the architectural magazine Baumeister, 2018 marked the first time that architectural students from all over Germany were able to participate in the competition, as were students at Delft Technical University in the Netherlands. The winner: “Lucullus Palace,” a sassy staging in which diners, discreetly hidden behind masks, swim through a veritable sea of cocktails before moving on to dining. Is there any way of topping that?
We’ll find out in 2020, when the next competition is held.