Is our gastronomy in crisis? In view of the desperate shortage of staff in many restaurants, you could certainly get that impression. But when you talk to people who live their passion for cooking and are absorbed in their work, it feels like there is no more beautiful profession than that of chef. That's why I'm all the more pleased to introduce you to four exceptional chefs who are among the best in their guild in Innsbruck. We can learn a lot from them, even if we will never stand professionally at the stove. By the way, they each share a recipe that you can try at home.
Udo Herrmann - Oniriq
First up is Udo Herrmann, the new chef at Oniriq - Innsbruck's only four-hood restaurant.
First of all, I wanted to know from the Heidelberg native how his professional career began.
UdoHerrmann: "I was very lucky with my training company and there I met the star chef Tommy Möbius, who saw potential in me and encouraged me. I was able to build a solid foundation, stayed on the ball and from then on worked in very renowned restaurants, including in Vienna, Berlin, Carinthia and Kitzbühel."
A heart for top gastronomy
What does it take to become a really good chef?
UdoHerrmann: "The decisive factors are the will and the joy of cooking, the willingness to experiment and try new things, and a passion for good food. You have to love the whole 'lifestyle'."
What do you think distinguishes Oniriq from other top restaurants?
UdoHerrmann: "At Oniriq, we attach great importance to offering our guests Austrian cuisine of the highest quality and regionality. At our restaurant, you will look in vain for imported products such as avocados, mangos or black pepper. Instead, we use 90 percent Austrian products, including exquisite specialties such as alpine caviar and Haller alpine shrimp.
What also sets us apart from establishments in this price range is the relaxed atmosphere at Oniriq. Here it feels more like a cozy living room. We value personal contact with our guests and like to use the 'you' when desired. As chefs, we are not only responsible for preparing the dishes, but also serve them personally. We are always available to answer questions and are happy to explain our creative thoughts behind the dishes."
You brought us "Braised Onions."Why exactly do you want to share this recipe with us?
UdoHerrmann: "This recipe is an exquisite in-between dish and requires no special equipment. All you really need is an iSi bottle."
braise 4 large white onions in the oven at 140 degrees for 45 minutes with circulating air. Let the onions cool down, then cut off the top piece and scoop out the onion with a spoon. Now chop the inside of the onion and fry it in some butter.
Confit egg yolks:
separate 4 fresh eggs and confit the yolks for 10 minutes in 75 degree canola oil.
50 g tarragon
50 g baby spinach
10 ml white balsamic vinegar
1 pinch of salt
250 ml canola oil
Blend all ingredients - except the oil - in a measuring cup with a hand blender until smooth. Then slowly add the oil to create an emulsion.
Hay milk foam:
2 large floury potatoes
250 ml milk
1 handful of organic hay
1 pinch of salt and nutmeg
Boil the milk, add the hay and let it steep for 30 minutes, then strain. Now peel the potatoes, cut them into small pieces and boil them in the flavored milk until soft. Puree everything with a hand blender until smooth, season to taste and fill into a small iSi siphon with a capsule. It is best to keep the iSi siphon warm in a pot with hot water.
Cut 1 onion into fine strips, dab between two sheets of kitchen roll and dust with flour. Now slowly fry in oil at about 140 degrees until golden brown.
Put the finely chopped onions back into the hollowed out onion and then place the confit egg yolk on top. Now cover the yolk with mayonnaise, fill the remaining cavity with hay milk foam and finally garnish with fried onions and fresh tarragon. It looks especially nice if you form a small nest of hay on the plate and arrange the onion on it.
Madlen Hackl - Goldener Adler
The second cook I would like to introduce to you is Madlen Hackl. She comes from a gastronomic family, which in 2004 took over the Hotel Goldener Adler and renovated it over the years. This is a venerable building with a long history that has hosted many celebrities since the year 1390. Madlen Hackl, her family and her team bring a breath of fresh air to this traditional building, especially in the kitchen.
How did your professional career begin?
Madlen Hackl: "I come from a restaurant family. My parents ventured into self-employment back in the 80s and eventually took over Goldenen Adler. They passed on their passion for gastronomy to us children and had a significant influence on us. Like my siblings, I also attended the Villa Blanka School of Tourism and helped out in the business at an early age. However, all this happened without any pressure from my parents. Initially, I had the desire to become an architect, but over time I realized that my true passion was in the tourism sector. The certainty that I actually wanted to be in the kitchen came during my time in Geneva. There I had the privilege of working in a great brasserie/bistro where my passion for cooking ignited. Despite a demanding education and having to compete as a woman in a male-dominated industry, I learned an incredible amount during that time."
Promoting the next generation
What is particularly important to you in your work as a chef?
Madlen Hackl: "Training apprentices is very close to my heart. It takes a lot of commitment to encourage and support them. Nowadays, respectful interaction at eye level is particularly important. We have a great team, which enables us to manage the work in the kitchen efficiently. It's important to me that my apprentices learn a lot and can develop. They get the opportunity to try things out and get to know all the stations of a kitchen."
When the whole family pulls together
What is it like to work in a family business?
Madlen Hackl: "In a family business with several generations, different views and approaches come together. That can lead to conflicts. However, it creates new opportunities, great ideas and changes. As an example, my family used the Corona period to remodel while I completed the first module to become a dietary chef. I started thinking about some of our traditions, like the recipe for dressing red cabbage or applesauce. When we use oil instead of butter, you don't taste a difference, and at the same time we provide an option for vegans. You just have to be willing to rethink and adapt. In the end, it's important that we talk to each other and evolve together. In doing so, it's certainly good that each of us siblings has our area where we can fully develop our talents."
What recipe did you bring and why?
Madlen Hackl: "It's a simple recipe that tastes delicious and is perfect for the season."
Autumn radicchio salad
- Wash the radicchio, cut it coarsely and put it in a bowl.
- Wash the plums, cut into quarters and add to the salad.
- Lightly roast sunflower seeds in a pan - set aside.
- Marinate the salad including the plums well. Add more acidity (from vinegar) or sweetness (from honey) to taste.
- Arrange the salad on 2 plates. Roughly pluck the goat cheese and spread it on top. Finally, sprinkle the toasted sunflower seeds over the salad.
Hans Ruetz - Weisses Rössl
The Boutiquehotel Weisses Rössl can look back on a long history - hospitality and dining culture have been celebrated here for 600 years. The restaurant serves traditional Austrian cuisine, which is appreciated by tourists and locals alike. Regionality, seasonality and freshness are a matter of course for chef Hans Ruetz. What else is particularly close to his heart and how to conjure up the perfect Kaiserschmarren, he reveals to us here.
How long have you been working at the restaurant Weisses Rössl?
Hans Ruetz: "I completed my training at Weissen Rössl and subsequently gained extensive experience in various countries, including France, America, England and New Zealand. Of all these places, France was probably the place where I learned the most. In France, gastronomy and the profession of chef are given a very special place. For eleven years now, I have been working again in the restaurant Weisses Rössl, although no longer as an apprentice, but as a chef."
What is particularly important to you as a chef?
Hans Ruetz: "My profession is my passion, and I like to pass on this enthusiasm. In recent years, we have trained numerous apprentices, and employees have had the opportunity to develop in our business. I am particularly proud of our international kitchen team. In my kitchen, I place great value on a respectful tone - no matter how hectic things may get, I always try to remain calm and collected. A good work ethic and teamwork under clear leadership are extremely important to me."
Austrian home cooking
What are your favorite dishes - what should guests at the restaurant Weisses Rössl definitely have tried?
Hans Ruetz: "Our menu features mostly traditional Austrian dishes. It includes classics such as Wiener Schnitzel or Käsespätzle, but also special and perhaps somewhat more unusual delicacies such as Weinberg snails and offal such as liver and tongue. Likewise, our self-pressed calf's head is a highlight. These dishes are extremely popular with our guests and are among our permanent classics on the menu. However, if I am asked for a very special dish that I would definitely recommend, it is our classic Tyrolean Gröstl with beef and bacon cabbage salad. We offer it in four different variations depending on the season: with fish, game or vegetarian with vegetables like asparagus and mushrooms. Apart from that, I can highly recommend our Zwiebelrostbraten."
Which recipe did you choose for us and why?
Hans Ruetz: "I chose a Kaiserschmarren. This traditional dish fits perfectly with our house, is easy to prepare and requires no special equipment or ingredients."
Ingredients for 4 people:
350 ml milk
180 g flour
1 pinch of salt
1-2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons butter
Powdered sugar for dusting
- Separate the eggs.
- Mix the flour and milk until smooth. Add the yolks.
- Beat the egg whites in a clean bowl with a pinch of salt until stiff.
- Gently fold the stiffly beaten egg whites into the batter until everything is well mixed.
- Heat some butter in a large frying pan. Pour the batter into the pan and bake over medium heat until the top is dry. Important: keep the lid on!
- Carefully turn the Kaiserschmarren and add butter and sugar on the turned side. This will create a wonderful caramelization and prevent it from drying out.
- Arrange the Kaiserschmarren, dust with powdered sugar and serve warm.
- As a garnish, plum roast or apple sauce can be served.
- If you wish, you can of course add raisins after turning it over, and if you don't want it quite boyish, add a dash of rum at the end.
Jan Tielsch - Arkadenhof
Last but not least, I would like to introduce Jan Tielsch from Stuttgart. Anyone who has ever stood in a restaurant kitchen knows the rough tone that can prevail there. But in the kitchen of the Arkadenhofs under the direction of Jan Tielsch, everything is different. Everything I hear and see from him shows appreciation - especially for his employees and his work.
I also wanted to know from him how his cooking career began.
Jan Tielsch: "I come from a gastronomy-loving family and spent a lot of time in restaurants, as my mother also worked in the service sector. However, the decisive moment to become a chef had less to do with cooking itself and more to do with humanity. One day, my mother's boss simply gave her 500 German marks and said, 'For you and your child.' From that moment on, I knew I wanted to be a chef and never considered anything else."
Rather less - but perfect
Does it take talent to become really good?
Jan Tielsch: "Let ten percent be talent, the rest is hard work, work and more work! It doesn't matter if you work in a three-star restaurant or a burger joint. Always strive for the best! As Paul Bocuse said, 'Many people have forgotten how to eat - they can only swallow.' Use what nature gives us and make it shine. The kaiseki idea plays a big role for me. But if there is only one strawberry on the plate, it is THE strawberry! Always prefer quality over quantity."
Cooking is the most ephemeral form of art
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Jan Tielsch: "Similar to the theory of colors. Imagine a paint box to which you gradually add new colors and try them out in different combinations. Over time, you learn which ones harmonize and go well together. It's similar with cooking. I experiment, try out and share ideas with others.
Art is another source of inspiration for me. For example, the sentence 'Ilsebill salted after' from the book 'Der Butt' was voted the most beautiful first sentence of a German-language novel. Among other things, this book describes how to cook a potato, which got me thinking about how I could prepare the best potato.
I am also a big fan of Japan, which is reflected in many of our dishes. But influences from Turkish, French or Italian cuisine also play a significant role."
What recipe did you bring us and why?
Jan Tielsch: "Sustainability is important. I therefore decided on a pickling recipe to preserve vegetables for longer. Pickling liqueur is kept in the refrigerator and boiled up when you want to preserve vegetables. You pour it over the vegetables, let it cool, seal it well and store it in the refrigerator. This way you always have delicious cucumbers, squash, beets, etc. on hand to give your dishes that special kick. A sustainable and delicious recipe against food waste."
500 g balsamic vinegar white
200 g sugar
200 ml water
5 g salt
This recipe goes in a jiffy: mix everything and boil once - ready. It can be used directly or prepared in larger quantities for later use!
If you are hungry now, you have two options: Either you try one of the recipes or you visit one of the four chefs in his restaurant. Either way, I'm sure you'll be full!
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Mother, TV series addict and nature lover with a passion for good food and the mountains!