One passion is not enough
I hope this does not happen, but if I had to eat the only meal until the end of my days, it would be something simple. It all depends on exactly where I find myself – in the city, in the mountains, by the sea. Maybe it will be dried meat. And the best fish will be the one that I can catch. But never, never would I choose a paste.
From an early age I was struggling with desires to become one: a cook or an architect. At the beginning of my career, I tried to use thoughts and ideas from the field of architecture – forms, volumes. True, the last five years, I prefer to take more from nature, to draw inspiration from the elegance of nature. Let’s call it biodesign.
I try to see the products through the eyes of those who produce them. Quite often we go to our suppliers, and not just to see what they do and how. The idea is to evaluate the product from the point of view of its manufacturer. One of the farmers once told me: “I don’t know whether to deliver my product to you, because I spent more than a year bringing it to perfection, and I’m not sure that you will treat it the same way. Some chefs “take apart” the product, changing it beyond recognition. ” We want to understand the manufacturers’ philosophy before using their products in the kitchen.
I was lucky to work with such a great chef, like Alain Chapelle, to take a little rest at Robuchon. If you ask, what is the difference between a good and a legendary chef, I will answer: just having a passion for cooking is not enough. You have to carry this feeling through the years. It takes really a lot of time to understand simple things. I am still in the process, and every day we study with the team.
In the first five years of your career as a chef, you will learn almost everything about cooking. But it will take another 10, 15, even 20 years, and you, looking more closely at a product, can learn so much about it that it is new that will take your breath away.
The kitchen looks more and more like a laboratory. Technique becomes an integral part of a simple, in general, task – to feed a person. But it would be a big mistake to assume that nature means nothing. Nature and product remain the base point. At the same time, you need to know the new technology and substances, because they transfer you to a different level.
Molecular cuisine is a rather important element of gastronomic reality. Especially in the development of culinary art. The main thing for the chef is to understand how good new appliances are for his own kitchen. We at Steirereck constantly use thickener xanthan, for example. But we try to resort to such methods as rarely as possible, in exceptional cases.
Television shows do their thing. Became more interested in food, focused customers. At the same time, you probably do not learn to cook well, looking at the TV. Yes, a deeper understanding of the products will come; you will respect them and the people who produce them. You will not look for quality in meat for 3.99 euros: price and quality are inseparable.
People throw out a lot, a lot of food. Especially the youth. Often they simply do not respect what is given by hard work. Some products, having become part of the race of discounts and large packages, have ceased to be appreciated. Enough to go to the supermarket: “Buy a package – get the second one for free!” Of course, if you got something for nothing, then it’s not a shame to throw it away.
As centers of gastronomy I am interested in London and Zurich. A lot of new ideas, concepts. I do not see much sense in professional travels to the United States or France. It seems to me that in the near future we can expect culinary discoveries from Eastern Europe. A kitchen with Eastern European elements can become a “new chic”.
My family is from Styria. This region is famous for fish, game, quite good wine, pumpkin seeds and butter from them. And the cooking itself is quite traditional, one might even say, heavy.
In the Steirereck restaurant we try to present the whole of Austria. We cannot be called a restaurant of classic Viennese cuisine: we rather develop modern Austrian cuisine.
I like to cook at home. During the week my wife and I eat in our restaurant. We work together: I am in the kitchen, she is in the hall. Brigitte also cooks with pleasure, and we often joke at home that in ten years we will switch places.