Creative and courageous, the young face of Austrian cuisine

Thomas Dorfer
Landhaus Bacher, Chef of the Year 2009
Mautern / Wachau, Austria

Landhaus Bacher has been an Austrian institution for generations. It was Lisl Wagner-Bacher, the grande dame of Austrian cuisine, who elevated it to legend status. The restaurant won top awards, not least two Michelin stars, which lapsed in 2010 when the Guide ceased to rate chefs in Austria. Son-in-law Thomas Dorfer, who took over the baton from Lisl Bacher, was already head chef at the time. The Michelin withdrawal meant that this talented young chef was denied the international breakthrough he deserved. But Dorfer hung on in. Today he is the focal point of the Alpine culinary network and flies the flag for Austrian cuisine far beyond the country’s borders. Today the 41-year old native of the Carinthian region of Austria is without doubt one of the world’s greatest chefs. His cooking style is unique. Visitors to Landhaus Bacher will find the origins of Austrian cuisine coming through loud and clear in his dishes, along with elements of the style of Claus-Peter Lumpp, in whose team Dorfer earned his spurs. But Dorfer’s style – a confident and bold, yet casual and relaxed embodiment of the essence of modern Austrian cuisine – is very much his own. No frills, no razzamatazz. Just simple, honest and unforgettable food.

Borscht flows through his veins – The new Russian avantgarde

Vladimir Mukhin
White Rabbit, No. 23 / 50 Best 2017
Moscow, Russia

After Anatoly Komm’s Varvary briefly landed on the list in 2011, the White Rabbit in Moscow is the second restaurant to make it onto the list of the best 50 restaurants. Rightly, because what is made there, has world class level and is typically Russian and unique. Its concept of traditional Russian cuisine using Russian products is sure to please guests and critics alike. Borscht and Cossack’s blood flow through his veins, as he himself says. His love of Russian produce is clear to see. Mukhin embodies the new Russian chef. Open minded, well trained and researching every modern cooking technology. Mukhin belongs to the fifth generation of a cooking dynasty. At 12 years old, he toiled away in the kitchen under the watchful eye of his father. Later on, he joined the ranks of the highly respected Alexander Filin in the Red Square restaurant. He went on to open a few restaurants here and there, popped up in a few places in France and trained in Spain – among others at El Cellar de Can Roca. Since 2012, he has been the chef at the White Rabbit. And as the name suggests, it truly is a wonderland. Under a glass dome, high above the Smolensky shopping arcade, playful Russian splendour reigns. Where guests settle down on plush sofas in front of the Moscow skyline, or sit on low, plump upholstered poufs at the gastro bar. The white rabbit theme (from Alice in Wonderland) is featured throughout the restaurant’s accessories. And, of course, in line with the New Russian cuisine, you can find borscht on its menu as well.

Raw nature – the bounty of mother earth

Esben Holmboe Bang
Maaemo ★★★
Oslo, Norway

Like no other chef, Esben Holmboe Bang represents the New Nordic cuisine generation. At his restaurant Maaemo (an old Norwegian word for Mother Earth) the young chef embodies a concept based on seasonal produce – produce that the cold, hard land does not give up without a fight. For Norway is not exactly a land of plenty. Yes, the waters are filled with fish, but the weather can make them difficult to land, while gathering ingredients from the precipitous mountain landscape can be equally fraught with danger. It’s a struggle that creates respect for the ingredients. At Maaemo, these ingredients are transformed into pioneering menus that give full expression Homboe’s cooking style. It’s a style that reflects not just the rugged and pure terrain from which these raw ingredients come, but the harsh climate that creates them and the entire culture of the high Scandinavian countries. Last year, six years after opening, Maaemo won its third Michelin star (just as Denmark’s Geranium achieved the same distinction). Never before has Scandinavia been so honoured with the ‘trois etoiles’. It’s a sign that Michelin recognises the special quality that chefs like Holmboe have brought to New Nordic cuisine – profound depth of taste.

Essentially Thai, Zero Carbon Footprint Restaurant

Duangporn Songvisava (Bo) & Dylan Jones (Lan)
Bo.Lan. No. 19 / 50 Best of Asia 2017
Bangkok, Thailand

The Bo.Lan, whose name is a wordplay on the chefs’ nicknames and the Thai word for “vintage”, is indisputably one of the best Thai restaurants in the world. And the two Chefs are convinced that such a restaurant can only be found in Thailand. That fact alone would be reason enough to invite them both onto the stage. However, Bo.Lan also tells another commendable story; that of a restaurant that is trying not to pollute the environment with harmful greenhouse gases and unnecessary waste. Zero Carbon – Zero Waste. This makes Bo.Lan a pioneer of a movement that simply has to come to preserve our environment and thus our life quality. Bo.Lan has developed a whole batch of measures to achieve that aim. The approach is based on the use of products coming from the microcosm and macrocosm surrounding the restaurant, thus avoiding long transportation routes and copious packaging. Foods that are produced by farmers in an environmentally neutral, organic and sustainable way – “friendly products”, as Bo calls them. In the project “ERD” – Eat Responsibly Day – the chefs directly address their guests. The aim is to help them develop the habit of eating with a sense of respect for the food every day.

Far out, somewhere in Shanghai

Paul Pairet
Ultraviolet ★★, No. 8 / 50 Best of Asia, No. 41 / 50 Best 2017 

Shanghai, China
Possibly the world’s most way-out restaurant, Ultraviolet is an experience like no other. Even getting there is an extraordinary process. Search for the address and you’ll find it’s simply ‘somewhere in Shanghai’. To get to this exclusive location, you first turn up at Mr. & Mrs. Bund, Pairet’s other restaurant. From there you are taken to a secret address ‘somewhere in Shanghai’. The room is windowless. There is just one table, which seats ten and is surrounded by projection surfaces. Then begins what Paul describes as ‘psycho tasting’. It’s eating with all your senses. With every dish, the entire room is transformed – its appearance, its smell, its sound, even its temperature. Game is served in the middle of a cool forest, seafood amid roaring surf and refreshing sea breezes. Every course is its own self-contained world. Service is equally unconventional. It’s one big spectacular show, with outstanding food that recognises no constraints and cuts across established boundaries. French by birth, Paul Pairet came to Shanghai in 2005. His concept for Ultraviolet is said to have been 15 years in the making.

Heinz ReitbauerA gentleman and a chef – Austrian contemporary cuisine

Heinz Reitbauer
Steirereck ★★, No. 10 / 50 Best 2017, Chef of the Decade (Gault Millau, Austria)

Vienna, Austria Understatement is a classic English trait. Marked by reserve and self-irony, it makes even the most impressive achievement seem run-of-the-mill. The opposite of American brashness, it’s a characteristic of the true English gentleman. It’s a quality that Heinz Reitbauer Junior embodies down to his fingertips. This modest and reserved man is in fact one of the key players in Austrian cuisine. Long the country’s undisputed number one (he has even been crowned Chef of the Decade), he’s often mentioned in the same breath as Redzepi, Bottura or Roca. And to his ‘pupils’, many of whom have become top chefs in their own right, he has passed on the same spirit of enquiry, the same precision and wealth of ideas. Constantly on the lookout for forgotten regional ingredients, Reitbauer aims to showcase the potential of Austrian produce. But he’s not about simply reinterpreting the Austrian classics. Everything he does is new, unique and unmistakably his own. Heinz’ restaurant, which he runs with his wife Brigit at front of house, embodies this split between traditional regional ingredients and contemporary international cuisine. Located in the Stadtpark in Vienna, it’s a historical building enhanced with a bold reflective facade. Just like Reitbauer’s cooking, it both absorbs and reflects its surroundings.

The young Berlin Avant-Garde and the Manifesto of German Cuisine.

Presented on CHEF-SACHE

They belong to the third generation of top German restaurants. They are radical and successful. They are different, courageous and openly committed to a revolutionary German cuisine. Uncompromising, sometimes provocative, unadorned – and with completely new flavours. Four restaurants – one of which, the Ernst, currently openend – have teamed up to found “The Gemeinschaft” . And they’ve written a Manifesto which they’re going to present on the big CHEF-SACHE stage. At last! German cuisine is getting a profile that can be recognised and widely publicised at the national and – more importantly – the international level. Only in this way can the essence of German cuisine and its uniqueness be conveyed – and the culinary art of this country be accorded the value that it deserves. Many have tried and failed in such a manifesto in recent years. Now, on CHEF-SACHE, the foundation is laid for a new German network. In addition to the presentation of the Manifesto, the chefs will present their respective cuisine. Very exciting.

Gastronomy: caught between quality and price.

In practically every branch of the gastronomy industry, pressure from rising costs has grown remarkably. At all-day schools for example, a federal average of 2.83 Euro per child per lunch is allotted. This shameful figure forces food providers to seek out the cheapest industrial commodities available. Pricing pressure in mass catering services further drives the inflationary spiral downward.
Restaurants, too, are affected by rising costs. In particular, minimum wage, new working hour regulations and their obligatory documentation make any necessary supplementary work extremely difficult. A shift change during a wedding? Who’s supposed to pay for that?
To a broad extent however, it is the purchasing budget that truly determines what goes in the shopping cart. If luxury products were once the exclusive purview of the catering industry, guests can now find them in retail, and thus feel entitled to evaluate the price of a meal, even if they understand very little about the series of factors that enter the overall pricing. Even if the customer indicates his willingness to spend more for higher quality products, he has learned to look out for “special offers” and opt for the most inexpensive choice. With few exceptions, the reigning “cheap is cool” mentality makes it difficult for the catering industry to set decent pricing.
How should the industry approach this problem? What strategies will help to avoid price traps? And what role do retail marketers and manufacturers play within this context? How do they position themselves? For the opening of CHEF-SACHE, talk show host, gourmand and Grand Seigneur Ralf Bos will bring his entertaining approach to this topic alongside an inspired panel of guests.