On January 27, Andreas Döllerer has received his award as “International Chef of the Year” from the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung – the first Austrian ever to be given this distinction! This particular honor is especially important to him: “Receiving this kind of recognition from Jürgen Dollase and the FAZ is something I am particularly proud of. That said, not only does it represent acclaim for my team and myself, it also highlights the hidden potential of Alpine cuisine!”
We wanted to hear from Jürgen Dollase, Germany’s most influential gourmet critic, precisely what it was that earned Andreas this distinction, what potential he sees in Alpine cuisine, and what Austria might expect in terms of its own Michelin Guide.
Koch.Campus Austria: Modern and creative regional cuisine is quite widespread, at least in Austria. So, what is it, from your perspective, that makes Döllerer´s cooking stand out from the rest?
Jürgen Dollase: “In the case of Mr. Döllerer, his individual culinary socialization, in combination with his highly individual approach to his region, leads to very individual and distinctive results. In other instances, one often encounters a kind of lip-service regional reference, but no truly individual result.”
Koch.Campus Austria: The term “Alpine cuisine” is currently in the process of establishing itself in popular parlance. Has Alpine cuisine, in your mind, already reached the kind of critical mass necessary to be able to assert itself as an international trend?
Jürgen Dollase: “No, not quite yet. For that to happen, it will require even more chefs performing at the very highest level and, above all, more creative stars who are capable of exciting attention and who are clearly identifiable worldwide as representatives of Alpine cuisine.”
Koch.Campus Austria: In the media, the development of Scandinavian cuisine was closely tied to Rene Redzepi and the Noma. Do you also see the same potential in Andreas Döllerer, his restaurant and the Gasthaus?
Jürgen Dollase: “Beyond a shadow of a doubt, Andreas Döllerer has the potential. Though the question remains, of course, as to how far he is capable of going gastronomically, and just how far the public is willing to follow him. You brought up the “Gasthaus”: I see particular potential in that particular culinary field, essentially an avantgarde interpretation of Alpine cuisine which, regards to price and organization, fits within the framework of a “regular” business.
Koch.Campus Austria: Döllerer’s is very much a typical family business, built by three generations of the Döllerer family. That said, this question is somewhat hypothetical: Would he also have been able to develop his “cuisine alpine” as an employee at a hotel? Or, do concepts and philosophies such as these flourish better and more sustainably within the biotope of a “family business”?
Jürgen Dollase: “He is so balanced and intelligent in how he applies his ideas, he would undoubtedly have been able to do what he does anywhere. If he ever takes on special events that are even more experimental, where he wishes to achieve the “simplification” I was just referring to at Gasthaus prices, he will definitely be at an advantage as a chef who has a mastery of the entire process from A to Z.”
Koch.Campus Austria: Haute cuisine is often understood by the media and guests more as a “battle of ingredients”, from langoustine to goose liver. How should “haute cuisine” be defined from your perspective?
Jürgen Dollase: “I am rather spoiled and highly trained, of course. That said, there is one simple sentence that truly sums up what top cuisine is all about: We find it where absolutely everything is done in order to produce the very best quality.”
Koch.Campus Austria: Just a few days ago, Norbert Niederkofler received a third star for his interpretation of Alpine cuisine. Can this be seen as a sign that Michelin has symbolically given clearance to regional cuisine, without the finer trappings and silverware, to receive the highest distinctions – or are the three stars primarily due to the exceptional talent and pioneering spirit of Niederkofler himself?
Jürgen Dollase: “I believe it has more to do with the personal quality of Norbert Niederkofler himself. If that were not the case, they would likely have found some means to solve the “Michelin problem” with respect to Andreas Döllerer. (Note: The City of Salzburg is visited by Michelin. Golling, however, barely 20 km south of there, is not.)”
Koch.Campus Austria: Andreas Döllerer stands symbolically for the rising Austrian restaurant scene. Do you view this culinary culture as distinctive and authentic?
Jürgen Dollase: “In comparison to Germany, absolutely. At many restaurants, you simply find more authentic products and flavor profiles that allow you to clearly recognize the history behind them. However, that only applies to the segment of chefs who are not oriented to the international mainstream.”
Koch.Campus Austria: In Austria, there are serious efforts to convince Michelin to rate the entire country again, and not merely Vienna and Salzburg. How do you see Austria stacking up in Michelin – from Bib Gourmand to 3-star?
Jürgen Dollase: “One to two 3-star restaurants, around fifteen 2-star restaurants – in other words, a disproportionately large number. Along with the usual quota of 1-star restaurants and a lot more Bibs than most.”
Alpine Scallop – An appeal to culinary curiosity
The award “International Chef of the Year” will be presented on 27 January during a ceremony at the Althoff Group’s Schloss Bensberg in Bergisch-Gladbach. Just like the other prizewinners, Andreas will contribute one course of the gala dinner: in his case, the “Alpine Scallop”, his signature dish, which also symbolically represents his cuisine alpine.
The dish was first created for New Year’s 2014, a spontaneous inspiration to place seared ox marrow on a scallop. To do so, the ox marrow is first baked for 20 minutes in a 70°C oven, then seared with a Bunsen burner and placed on a dashi broth in the shell itself. Egg-yolk crème (Note: the egg yolk is first frozen, then thawed, smoked then whisked with beef broth and lemon juice into a crème), ox marrow mayonnaise, fermented garlic, deep-fried quinoa grains and briefly roasted oxheart cabbage complement the dish, creating a sense of harmonious unity with a broad dramatic arc.
“For a small dish, many different flavor components and textures are present”, says Andreas, explaining the success of this dish: “the heartiness of the marrow, the umami of the dashi, the seasonings, roasted notes, creaminess, crunchiness.” At his restaurant in Golling, the waitstaff are urged not to reveal the components of the dish. “The dish toys with the expectations and curiosity of our guests. It achieves its greatest effect when guests are prepared to open themselves uninhibitedly to a totally new flavor experience. It can be counted on as a dish that polarizes, which is what we like to see!”
Note: Andreas Döllerer latest Book “Cuisine alpine” is also available in english language!