Hill farms, mountain huts and alpine grazing areas represent an important form of agriculture in Austria and are an absolute boon for the tourism industry. Austria is home to over 8100 distinctive areas of alpine pastures, with 25,200 farms driving their livestock up to summer grazing grounds that span around 330,000 hectares – though unfortunately, all of those numbers have been dropping for a number of years now.
No wonder, then, that the focus of the Koch.Campus Chef´s Table at the Siegerland Hütte was squarely on livestock raised on hill farms such as those we are talking about, including Tux cattle, Zackel sheep and Ötztal yaks, though also on other foodstuffs from alpine regions such as wild herbs, milk, whey, mushrooms, spruce cones, juniper, and ancient grain varieties.
Culinary Summit at 2.720 meter above sea level
The dishes were prepared and presented at the Siegerland Hütte, which is perched at 2,720 meters above sea level, high above Sölden and the Ötztal Valley. All participants had to carry their ingredients and cooking equipment from the end of the forestry road next to the Fiegl Hütte on a 3-hour trek along a footpath that gained 800 meters, until they finally reached the Siegerland Hütte. Without the support of a team of pack animals provided by the 23rd Light-Infantry Battalion based at Landeck Barracks, this simply wouldn’t have been possible – thank you! The panorama on this warm, sunny day was overwhelming, while the fresh, fragrant mountain air and spirit of camaraderie spurred the chefs on to perform at their very best.
Our photographer, Alexander Lohmann, logged significant distances and climbs in order to capture the glorious alpine scenery with his camera. Our enormous gratitude goes out to Michael Wilhelm, who farms the Windachtal and provided invaluable support in organizing the event – as well as to Raimund and Edeltraut, who run the hut and gave us free run of the place on this particular day!
Guests of this event were fortunate to have the following dishes melt in their mouth.
Andreas Döllerer, Restaurant Döllerer, Golling near Salzburg (A)
– Flank steak of Tux beef marinated raw in beef-stock miso, fermented garlic and ginger, served on a rye-bread crust
– Mountain sorrel, creamy pulled pork, spruce-tip oil & yogurt whey
James Baron, Tannenhof, St. Anton an Arlberg (A)
– Grilled heart of Zackel sheep, goat cream-cheese, Dirndl in an einkorn wrap
– Zackel-sheep tartare, meadow sorrel, French sorrel
Michael Wilhelm, farmer, tenant farmer on the Windachalm (A)
– Quick-fried brisket of Tux beef, aged 11 weeks, mountain rock-salt, glacier sorrel, Windachtal alpine herbs
Rebeca Clopath. farmer at the Lichthof and nature cook, Lohn (Sui)
– Grilled neck of yak, pickled spruce seeds, celery crème
Alexander Huber, Huberwirt, Pleiskirchen (Ger)
– Liver of Zackel sheep grilled on a hot stone, buttermilk, brewer’s grains, asparagus
Armin Leitgeb, Consultant Chef, Fulpmes (A)
– Lights of veal in roux, with root vegetables and fried-batter pearls
– Lights of Ötztal yak in roux, potato foam, French sorrel and traditional fried-batter pearls
Jeremias Riezler, Walserstuba, Riezlern im Kleinwalsertal (A)
– Fermented juniper from the Windachalm, yak blood pudding, Schüttelbrot potato flatbread, smoked hill-farm yogurt
Hansjörg Ladurner, Restaurant Scalottas terroir, Lenzerheide (Sui)
– Stew of Grauvieh bull prepared over an open fire, imperial barley, rye flatbread
Andreas Döllerer, who, with his “Cuisine alpine”, has been a trailblazer of Alpine cuisine in Austria, sums up this unique culinary event in very positive terms: “It comes down to standing by the products you have, rather than being ashamed about those you do not.”
He sees the greatest potential for cooking in the Alpine world in old, new or previously unknown products from Alpine regions, in combination with state-of-the-art culinary techniques and international inspiration. “The result is subtle dishes with a clear Alpine signature, dishes that readily stand comparison with Scandinavian or Spanish cuisine. It is this potential that I, along with many other colleagues in the kitchen, want to continue to develop and propel forward.”