Steirereck – Definition of Austrian Cuisine
Few offspring in this day and age would want to follow in their parents footsteps, much less take over the family business. But not Chef Heinz Reitbauer. Since joining his parents at Steirereck as a partner in 1996, he’s very much grown into his own man, establishing himself as a force culinaire in the kitchen. Beyond that, he’s also grown Steirereck to become an icon on the global dining scene, having ranked No. 10 on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2017. Here, he shares with Aspire Lifestyles his idea of Austrian cuisine and some of his favourite haunts on his day off.
Aspire Lifestyles: Chef Reitbauer, congratulations on your win at The World’s 50 Best 2017! Being a dining landmark and icon in Austria for over 40 years, tell us more about how you keep the restaurant and its cuisine fresh after all this time?
Chef Reitbauer: It’s a progress where not only we as chefs are searching for seasonal and new products but also our deliverers come up with new inventions or heritage varieties. It’s a never ending circle of searching and finding.
Aspire Lifestyles: How would you describe Austrian cuisine to someone who has never tried it before? What’s unique and special about the cuisine?
Chef Reitbauer: The Austrian cuisine is deeply associated with the Austrian monarchy and was always influenced by the people and regions of their crown-lands. A melting pot of different cultures and cooking made each region stand out from others and cannot be reduced to just one or two dishes per region. Many flavours, products and preparation methods have their very own origin and can be easily assigned to their regions. Flavours and tastes create transboundry impacts on our families and history and reflect our living culture.
Aspire Lifestyles: You and your family have purchased a farm and an inn previously…is that something you have a passion for and what future plans do you have to expand your dining empire?
Chef Reitbauer: The Pogusch was bought by our family in 1994 and opened in 1996 as a restaurant and inn with a farm enclosed. The area around the Pogusch is where the families of my parents come from. So long before we had a very intense relationship to the plot of land and the people there. Today our company is the right size to be handled by the family. So far we do not plan to add anything else.
Aspire Lifestyles: Tell us about some of your best-kept hidden gems. Where would you go on your day off?
Chef Reitbauer: The greatest place for a day off or a relaxing holiday would be to return to nature. Those are the most inspiring moments for me. I feel you do not need much for a good time. Even the simplest butter bread made from the finest wood-fired oven and best clotted butter can be heavenly.
Aspire Lifestyles: Lastly, where is your favourite country in the world and why?
Chef Reitbauer: I must admit, my home country is my favourite. The more I travel, the older I get I see more and more of its benefits and enjoy the many different places from mountains to lakes, from cities to the Alps.