On February 10th, in Frankfurt, the S.Pellegrino Kulinarische Auslese 2014 guide will highlight the best chefs and restaurants across Germany and Austria. During the gala event an Acqua Panna special prize will be given to the best female chefs of the two countries: in Germany the competition is between Iris Bettinger and Maria Groß, Ulli Hollerer-Reichl and Rosemarie Trabelsi in Austria.
Waiting for the final winners to be announced Fine Dining Lovers sat down with the four chefs to get to know them and their cuisine a little better: after Maria Groß, today the focus is on Ulli Hollerer-Reichl. Born in 1969, she trained in several restaurants before taking over of her parents’ restaurant Landgasthof Zum Blumentritt (in 1997) together with her sister Christa Hollerer. In 2003 the restaurant was awarded with the first Gault Millau toque. She's one of the Jeunes Restaurateurs Austria founders.
You have been nominated fort the Best Female chef in Austria for 2014. How do you feel?
I am overwhelmed. In the first moment, I was incredibly happy. Now I also feel honoured and flattered. It shows that all the work and effort pays off.
What’s the taste of happiness, for you?
You can only taste happiness, when you are happy yourself. You need to be at peace with yourself. To me, happiness tastes light, fluffy, sugar-sweet and sparkling. It melts on your tongue.
Can you describe your kitchen philosophy and approach towards cooking?
I treat all groceries with respect. I do not want to waste food recklessly and throw it away. My dishes are homemade with love. I do not like using over five or six ingredients. It is more important for me to use tasty products that harmonize.
What dish are you most proud of and why?
The dish tends to vary depending on the season. In spring, I prefer light food, like fish with piquancy for the spirit. In winter, I like hearty dishes. I am from a little village on the countryside. Thus I love using nature-related products, like deer. Nevertheless, our restaurant-classic is roasted goose liver with roasted blood pudding stripes and glazed apples.
What’s exciting you about the culinary scene in Austria right now?
I observed a trend that I really like: Taking an ancient, almost forgotten, dish and turning it into a modern creation. A new interpretation of an old tradition, so to speak.
With the cover of Time magazine featuring Redzepi, Chang and Atala as the Dudes of food there’s been a lot of debate about the unbalanced portrayal of female chefs in the food industry – what are your opinions regarding this?
This is nothing tragical. I keep calm and simply shrug it off. Everyone who is creative and does something worth talking of, deserves to be on the red carpet. I myself am not used to it. It seems like I need to get used to it now, though.
Has being a female had any influence on your chef career?
Not at all. My parents owned a restaurant. My sister and I were completely free in our career choice. As long as it is fun, you should always do it. However, I noticed that working in the kitchen is hard for a woman. We are not as physically strong as men, after all. In my case, I am alone in the kitchen, dealing with everything myself. I would like to be more creative, but there is often no time for creativity.
What food trends are you expecting to emerge in the country in 2014?
I observed a biodiversity of different kind of vegetables and fruits, for example apples, pears, plums and also potatoes. Since we are such a small village, there are greengrocers driving by who sell me their products. An apple might not look like it does from the supermarket but the taste is pure. Also, in Austria we sometimes use different terms than the German standard for the same products. I like to use the Austrian names on my menu. These words differ from a German chef’s menu.
What’s your culinary dream?
Doing my job with heart and soul. I want to convey my happiness to the guests and receive their happiness in exchange. I do not want to stand still. I want to keep learning and growing.