Meet In Your Kitchen | Rhinoçéros Bar, Jazz and Béné’s Shrimp Cocktail

by meike peters

This post is part of my Meet in My Kitchen podcast series:

How did we get to where we are in life and what does food have to do with it.

“Music is love, food is fun.” – Bénédict Berna

From French rap music via Berlin’s club scene right into jazz: Bénédict Berna‘s musical journey reflects the chapters in his life. Each musical genre is woven into his work projects, musical fragments becoming the tune of his life.

As a music producer in France, it was the beat and the political message of rap pulling him into the studio. This, and the fact that there was no place to go to as a teenager, made him organize concerts and parties at the age of 16. He admits that it wasn’t an altruistic move, he wanted to play in bands but the other kids wouldn’t let him. So at his parties and concerts, Béné would add himself on the lineup – and place himself at the drum machine – and the other kids had to give in.

He was hooked, he loved the energy bursting out of these events. Creating a place, a period of time, that makes other people simply happy became his passion and profession.

Berlin was like a huge kindergarten. There was space, air to breathe, you didn’t have to fight for your place. – Bénédict Berna

Born in Valence and growing up in Donzère, a small and not too exciting town in the Rhone valley between Lyon, Montpellier, and Marseille, Béné got used to moving around, networking, and organizing concerts wherever the crowd was hungry for it. His appetite also grew yet he felt the creative limitations of the smaller towns and cities. Paris wasn’t an option for him. He says it’s too snob and rigid, all places have been taken and occupied a long time ago. But Berlin was the exact opposite to that.

In 2003 things were still rather wild in Germany’s capital, especially in the party world. So when Béné arrived it didn’t take too long for him to find his way straight into the clubs, soon taking care of the set lists, bands, and DJs of Club Maria and Club Chez Jacki. The clubs and bars were the pumping heart of a city that didn’t know any limits or regulations. It was total freedom – and innocence – at least for a little while.

 “I don’t want to become an icon, I don’t want to be an institution. I want people to have a good time.” – Bénédict Berna

Berlin changed and grew up, at least a little bit, but change isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Béné left the clubs behind and became the manager of a wine bar, Brut on Torstraße. It was one of the earlier places where finally wine, cheese, and bread all tasted fantastic. Something that shouldn’t surprise but back then it did because the general quality level in the city was just so bad. At Brut, you were never really sure who was a guest and who worked there. It was one big family.

All those years and experiences shaped the formula for Béné’s own bar that he opened in 2017 together with his wife, Martina. So it’s not a surprise that Rhinoçéros is a bar that does everything right. French wine and cheese, crunchy baguette, Japanese whiskey, the atmosphere warm and intimate, it feels a bit like home, just more special.

All this would already be enough to win my heart but Béné’s love for jazz, vinyl, and vintage hi-fi sound systems – and for organizing events – made him turn towards a Japanese phenomenon: the Tokyo Jazz Kissa. It’s basically a bar (or coffee shop) where people listen to vinyls while drinking tea – or whiskey, or wine. So at Rhinoçéros, they have special nights, curated listening sessions, where no one talks but sits still in front of 1976 wooden Bowers & Wilkins speakers, kind of like at a concert, to peacefully listen to the whole length of legendary jazz recordings. Béné says that he himself is surprised at times by the intimacy that these nights create. But that’s the power of great music, food, and wine – and great hosts.

When I asked Béné which recipe he’d like to share with us, he suggested a Shrimp Cocktail. First I was surprised then I indulged in nostalgia. So thanks to this dinner party classic, we’ll have a proper 80s revival in the kitchen (Béné says it’s actually from the 60s). Béné’s version is super quick to prepare, perfectly balanced, and, thanks to tangerines giving it a hint of acidity, it’s even refreshing. And it goes extremely well with oysters and champagne for lunch, that’s what we did – just don’t expect you’ll get anything done after this so save it for the weekend.

The podcast episode with Bénédict Berna is in German. You can listen to the Meet in My Kitchen podcast on all common podcast platforms (click here for the links); there are English and German episodes. You can find all the blog posts about these podcast episodes including my guests’ recipes here on the blog under Meet in Your Kitchen.

Listen to the podcast episode with Béné on:

Spotify / Apple / Deezer / Google / Amazon / Podimo

On Instagram you can follow the podcast @meetinmykitchenpodcast!

Shrimp Cocktail

by Bénédict Berna

Serves 4

  • 5 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 teaspoons cognac
  • 4-5 drops Tabasco
  • Freshly grated orange zest, to taste
  • 450g / 1 pound medium shrimps or prawns, cooked and peeled, cold
  • 2 large Belgian endives, very thinly sliced crosswise
  • 2 tangerines, peeled (skin and white pith removed) and cut into segments

In a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, ketchup, cognac, Tabasco, and a pinch (or more) of orange zest. Add the shrimps and toss to combine.

Divide the Belgian endive, shrimps, and tangerines among 4 bowls (or wide champagne glasses) and serve immediately.