The fermentation lab of Markus Shimizu is one of our favorite places in Berlin. It has beautiful molding not only on the ceiling but also in its barrels. The atmosphere is a unique mix of calmness and creativity made up by the bubbling products and dedicated team. Over the past years, Markus has supplied some of the most well-known high-end restaurants in Europe and has become a local reference for chefs and consumers thanks to his handcrafted premium products and the philosophy behind his small-batch production techniques.
Since most chefs are fans of fermented foods because of their delicious aromas, surprising flavors, and beautiful craftsmanship we decided to team up with mimi ferments and thought leaders chefs who will be preparing dishes at our Chef Lab from and with Markus fermented products but let’s get back to that later. Markus was born in Japan and grew up eating fermented products such as soy sauce and tsukemono on a daily basis. Coming from an education in the arts he sees the intersection between art and fermentation very clearly.
“Both processes are about working with intuition and creativity while experimenting and ending up with a finished product”
Photo via mimi ferments
Fermentation started as a hobby in his living room. Which quickly turned into a fermentation station and filled up with many barrels and curious people. He then decided to open his beautiful shop where miso, soy sauce, and other koji-based ferments are artisanally produced. The process can be described as the growth of mold in a safe environment. Compared to the industrial process of fermenting in stainless steel or plastic, Markus makes sure that his microorganisms have a comfy and unique environment to thrive. His products are fermented in wine, rum, and whiskey barrels which are used as containers as the fermentation process is happening. The beauty is, that if products are fermented in wood from a smokey whiskey barrel it adds its smoky flavor to the taste profile. Once the fermentation process has happened in the barrel, it stores the information of the microorganisms so the next time it will be fermented more quickly. Kitchens all over Europe cook with Markus’ products. We were curious to find out more about his relationship with chefs and how they work together. We took a walk down memory lane and Markus told me about how he presented his products to Micha who is head chef at Nobelhart und Schmutzig for the first time. Micha, who focuses exclusively on regional and traditional produce, showed up at Markus only a day after trying products for the first time to get started on their joint experiment: fermenting regional produce from Berlin. They started with oats. The oats got the ball rolling. Mimi Ferments started developing products for chefs. Either directed for their concept, fermenting solely regional and seasonal produce - as in the case of Nobelhart und Schmutzig. Markus also develops products for chefs focusing on reducing food waste. If there is a product that is consistently leftover in the kitchen then Markus can turn it into gold by fermenting it and bringing it back to life (literally). The experience of visiting mimi ferments in Berlin is always breathtaking and it only gets better when you get to your kitchen and start cooking with the produce that Markus and his team have developed through love and dedication for the art of fermentation.