Stuart Forster travels to Zell am See-Kaprun and meets leading chefs at the inaugural Festival of Alpine Cuisine in Austria’s Salzburgerland.
Disclosure: Stuart was invited to visit Zell am See-Kaprun as a guest of the Salzburgerland Tourismus GmbH, which did not review or approve this article.
The Festival of Alpine Cuisine was held from the 14th to 21st of September 2019 at Zell am See-Kaprun in Salzburgerland, Austria.
The eight-day festival is known as the Festspiele der Alpinen Küche in German. During the course of the festival chefs showcased their work, and the quality of local ingredients, by serving tasting menus at restaurants in Zell am See-Kaprun.
Salzburgerland is cultivating a reputation for producing and serving high-quality artisanal food and drink. In 2009 the Via Culinaria was established. The Via Culinaria consists of nine themed routes to help guide travellers to restaurants and food and drink producers across the region. Its routes include the Culinary Pathway for Cheese Freaks and the Culinary Pathway for Fish Fans.
Festival of Alpine Cuisine
One of the festival’s highlights was the Top Chefs on Stage event, held at Zell am See’s Ferry Porsche Congress Center.
One of the opening speeches was given by Wilfried Haslauer Jr., the Governor of Salzburgerland — which is one of the Austria’s nine states.
Dominik Flammer — the author of the book Das kulinarische Erbe der Alpen, a book whose title translates to ‘The Culinary Heritage of the Alps’ — was the keynote speaker. He discussed how a diversity of ingredients, a tradition of artisanal production and highly skilled chefs are factors in shaping the cuisine of the region. Modern chefs play a key role in reinterpreting, showcasing and redefining dishes associated with the region.
Top Chefs on Stage
Leading chefs from the Alpine region were invited to demonstrate how they prepare their signature dishes. Participants included Hubert Wallner of See Restaurant Saag (Saag 11, Techelsberg; tel. +43 4272 4350 1), Hannes Pignater from the Adler Lodge in the South Tyrol region of Italy and Sven Wassmer, whose restaurant Verve by Sven is at the Grand Resort Bad Ragaz in Switzerland.
Andreas Döllerer was the first to take to the stage. His gourmet restaurant, Döllerer’s Geniessrestaurant (Markt 56, Golling; tel. +43 6244 4220 0), is rated with 18 points from a possible 20 by Gault Millau. Döllerer is the author of Cuisine Alpine, a book which includes traditional and modern recipes.
He was followed by Vitus Winkler, a chef who includes foraged ingredients in creative dishes served at Vitus Cooking (Sonnhof Hotel, Kirchweg 2, St Veit im Pongau; tel. +43 6415 4323).
Following his cookery demonstration, Mr Winkler presented prizes in the HOGAST.REGIO-Genusspreis cookery competition, which paired young chefs with regional food producers.
Chefs prepared dishes that visitors to the Festival of Alpine Cuisine to buy. Food producers displayed their products and provided samples in the foyer of the conference centre. Food trucks also parked outside of the Ferry Porsche Congress Center. Meanwhile, workshops provided a forum for attendees to delve into culinary-related themes.
Meeting the festival organiser
“The idea for the Festival of Alpine Cuisine came from me,” said Klaus Buttenhauser, the organiser of the event. As the day drew towards its close we chatted by one of the tables arranged in foyer of the Ferry Porsche Congress Center.
“The idea, actually, is that we give a stage to Alpine cuisine in its modern form, to show that the end product is based on signature, home-grown products; that it draws sophistication from things that are in essence simple. That’s one characteristic of the region’s cuisine and that’s why the Festival of Alpine Cuisine is here,” he explained.
“I find that it’s been well received by the chefs, who are keen to show what they do…It’s been well visited. We’ve had 550 people here today. They could buy dishes cooked by the distinguished chefs who stood and made presentations on the stage along with cuisine from other chefs. Both were of a high standard. I’ve got good reasons to be satisfied with the event,” said Mr Buttenhauser.
Alpine cuisine in tourism marketing
“The next step has got to be that we utilise the Alpine cuisine more prominently in our tourism marketing. We heard today from the Governor of the Salzburgerland as well as Leo Bauernberger [the executive director of Salzburgerland Tourismus GmbH] that we can employ the image of Alpine cuisine more effectively in promoting the image of the Salzburgerland,” added the festival’s organiser.
“In culinary matters, Salzburgerland is the best organised and best established in Austria. The Via Culinaria has more than 300 culinary enterprises; nowhere has such a high concentration. When one measures it on the Gault Millau level, Salzburgerland has many distinguished restaurants.
Yet it’s not just about the Alpine region of Austria — that corresponds to the states of Salzburgerland, Tyrol, Vorarlberg, Carinthia and Upper Austria — we can employ the concept and appear together on international markets. We could go out and represent Alpine cuisine rather than Tyrolean or Salzburgian cuisine,” he said.
“The Alpine region hasn’t yet positioned itself so cleverly or so proactively as a culinary destination. Perhaps, thus far, it’s been too fragmented. That was the advantage of Scandinavia; it appeared here as one entity. It wasn’t important if a chef was from Sweden or Denmark — it was Scandinavian cuisine.
There’s an advantage to joining forces and showing how innovative the Alpine region can be in working with the ingredients that count among its highlights,” concluded Mr Buttenhauser.
The proof of whether the reputation of Alpine cuisine evolves to rival or surpass that of Scandinavian cuisine will, of course, be in the eating.
Getting to Austria’s Salzburgerland
Considering visiting the next Festival of Alpine Cuisine in Austria’s Salzburgerland or exploring the Via Culinaria? Zell am See is about 90 minutes’ drive from Salzburg Airport, which is on the southwest outskirts of the city of Salzburg. The train journey between Salzburg’s central station and Zell am See also takes approximately 90 minutes.
Flying to Munich Airport and transferring to road or rail is another option for reaching Zell am See. It’s two-and-a-half hours’ drive between the two if the roads are clear. The rail journey between the central stations of Salzburg and Munich takes around one hour 45 minutes.
Where to stay in Zell am See
Zell am See is a long-established resort town with a broad selection of accommodation.
Enjoy luxury? The 70-room Hotel Salzburgerhof (Auerspergerstrasse 11, 5700 Zell am See; tel. +43 6542 765) has a five-star superior rating. The courtyard gardens and three-storey wellness area count among the reasons to visit.
It’s neighbour, the Hotel Tiroler Hof (Auerspergerstrasse 5, 5700 Zell am See; tel. +43 6542 7720), is a four-star superior property with a traditional Alpine chalet appearance. The 91-room hotel has a sauna, pool and wellness area in its basement and an open hearth in its lobby.
The Grand Hotel Zell am See (Esplanande 4-6, 5700 Zell am See; +43 6542 7880) is also a four-star superior hotel and has 130 guestrooms. It looks onto Lake Zell and has two spa areas.
See the Festival of Alpine Cuisine website for information about participating chefs and events held from the 14th to 21st of September 2019 in and around Zell am See – Kaprun in Salzburgerland, Austria. Looking for places to eat when you visit Austria? That website includes a listing of ten of the top restaurants in Austria plus information about some of the Alpine region’s leading food producers.
Photos illustrating this article are by Why Eye Photography. Based in North East England, Why Eye Photography specialises in travel and food photography.
Enjoy this article? Take a look at my post about the traditional Christmas markets in Salzburg, Austria to get an idea of things to do and see in the city as Christmas approaches.
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