Madeleine Jakits was born in Zurich, Switzerland in 1955. She spent her first two school years in Neuchatel, Switzerland, and the next two years in Bromley, Kent. She graduated from the Oberalster high school in Hamburg, and followed this up with a degree in English and German with Education Science (the latter only as an „alibi“ for the still undecided), resulting in a „1st Staatsexamen“, a particular type of degree in the German education system. Her first salary was earned at TIME LIFE books, which at that time had a German editorial office in the Hanseatic city of Hamburg. She then spent six years as a contributing editor in the food section (sorry, back then it was still the „cooking section“) of the women‘s magazine, „Brigitte“. She has been with the FEINSCHMECKER magazine for food connoisseurs at the Jahreszeiten publishing house since the end of 1988, first as the editor of the wine and kitchen section, from 1994 as the chief writer and deputy editor-in-chief. And editor-in-chief since 1st May, 1997. Apart from good food and wine, her private interests are singing, piano lessons, Italy, wire-haired dachshunds and a 1981 Alfa Romeo Spider.
What would you recommend to people who are buying a new kitchen? What do they really need, what should they think about?
M. Jakits: Indeed, there are many things that can go wrong! Those without any experience of planning a kitchen should definitely seek advice – best of all in a good kitchen showroom where professionals are on hand, and who truly think of everything. With all due respect, I would never rely solely on an architect. I say this because what is to be avoided at all costs is having such impressive beauty, and yet in the end you are annoyed by not having enough plug sockets, and in the wrong place, poor illumination, not enough work surfaces, which are too low anyway, not enough storage space for all of the super gadgets that we are told are an absolute must nowadays as kitchen appliances, unnecessary paths between fridge, sink, oven and hob when prepping and cooking, etc. A new kitchen is a serious investment. It also has to suit your living situation. A family with riotous toddlers has priorities other than those of the best-agers, who enjoy their life as a couple and who love to cook for guests.
Cooking and the kitchen are taking up ever more space in the media – have people developed a different awareness of food as a result of this?
M. Jakits: The ubiquity of this subject has definitely brought more and more people into the kitchen, even younger people, and has awoken curiosity. Cooking has become a lifestyle. But of course, not everyone will become a better cook, just because it has become such an overarching topic in all the magazines and media channels.
Do you think that better cuisine will encourage people to cook more successfully?
M. Jakits: Yes. People will not want to embarrass themselves in front of their beautiful acquisition!
Nowadays, authentic and regional products are being hyped in the star restaurants. What can be learnt from this for the „domestic stove“?
M. Jakits: Buy less from supermarkets and discount stores – go to the weekly markets instead where particularly special hand-crafted wares are to be found between a great deal of mainstream ingredients. They almost always taste better. Drive out to the country at the weekend with the children and buy directly from farms – and stroke sheep.
Is there a particular taste on the tongue that bewitches you?
M. Jakits: Lobster. Langoustine, over charcoals and only slightly „perfumed“. Sardines fresh from the barbecue. A top-quality rib-eye steak. Fried poulard. Porcini mushrooms. Creamed morel. Dijon mustard. Caviar. Lavender honey. And the apricot jam made by Hans Haas (head chef in the „Tantris“ restaurant, Munich). And then, there is ...
I ♥ FINE FOOD
Kitchens are taking up ever more space, even taking over the living room. Have you and your magazine written articles on to this?
M. Jakits: I certainly hope so! Today, those who have the space and the means want an open living area in their apartment, in their home. An area where everybody meets, where family life plays out. To achieve this, you can also take a wall out, to break down the barrier between the living or dining room and the kitchen. Everything melds together, everybody can join in casually with activities in the kitchen. The kitchen, even the most chic, becomes a kind of a hearth, a campfire: warmth, togetherness, creativity.
Many restaurants today only serve up mediocrity. Is it not better to invest in the kitchen at home?
M. Jakits: As a layperson, you can achieve good dishes with love, and they taste good because they are homemade. And they cost much less than the annoying mediocrity in restaurants. The high expectations on a meal should be saved for occasional visits to a top restaurant. In that respect, the answer to your question is yes. Nevertheless, I must emphasise to the credit of the gastronomy sector that there has never been as many good quality restaurants in Germany as there are today, even in the less expensive range. Those who read the FEINSCHMECKER magazine for taste connoisseurs know this. Indeed, we filter out. And therefore, we generally find the readers a reliable tip for every taste.
How much time do you spend in the kitchen?
M. Jakits: Around two hours a day. More at the weekends, especially when we have guests. I prefer to cook on holiday the most, without any hustle and bustle.