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Baden-born Karlheinz Hauser knows all about the value of a trusted mentor. As a young chef, he worked under ‘Chef of the Century’ Eckart Witzigmann at Aubergine in Munich.
Fortified with the knowledge and experience gained from his esteemed tutor, he moved to Berlin where he became executive chef at Hotel Adlon near the Brandenburg Gate. Next stop, Hamburg, and the Seven Seas restaurant, where he won two Michelin stars and 17 Gault-Millau points. Hauser is well known to German TV audiences for his work on the show ARD Buffet, and as a guest judge on ZDF’s Kitchen Battles TV show.
Now, keen to share some of the secrets of his success, Hauser will be a mentor to young chef Matthias Walter, finalist for the Germany and Austria region, at S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2016.
Ahead of the competition in Milan, he spoke to Fine Dining Lovers about fame, focus and working with the best.
You worked with Eckart Witzigmann at Aubergine in Munich - can it be overwhelming or intimidating for a young chef to work alongside a legend?
Definitely not! To work and learn from the best should be always a motivation for a young chef. Just from the best, you can learn the best.
What did Witzigmann teach you about mentoring young chefs?
To work hard and always be focused on the product. You will reach all the goals you have. Love for the product, perfection, respect and discipline.
You’re well known as a TV personality, entrepreneur and winner of Michelin stars - how easy is it for young chefs to be distracted by fame and stardom?
It might be easy. Young chefs should be down-to-earth, and know what is important in life — and that’s never fame; we all know it doesn’t stay forever.
What motivates you?
Working with customers and creativity in my work.
Are competitions like this helpful in promoting German / Austrian food around the world?
Yes, cooking should be always creative and involve different countries.