PAZNAUN PEOPLE: CHRISTIAN TÖRF, HEAD CHEF AT ALPENHAUS

Christian Törf is the head chef at Alpenhaus, making him what you could call the highest gourmet chef in Paznaun. Because as of last autumn, the Alpenhaus has a Gault-Millau toque. We spoke to him – and not just about this.

CHRISTIAN, you’re german but you’ve lived in PAZNAUN FOR 13 years now. what brought you to ischgl?

Well, I did my training in Weißenfels in Germany, then I was looking for something interesting to do. I wanted to get away from home and try something new. At first I was working in Munich in a golf club kitchen, and then I was looking for something for the winter. A colleague of mine drew my attention to Ischgl. I worked on the Idalp to start with, and now I’ve been here at the Alpenhaus for four years. I like it. And I have a super team.

a team yoU’VE COOKED YOUR WAY with TO A GAULT MILLAU TOQUE!

Yes. We’re all very proud of that, of course. Because now we’re a ski hut with a toque. This has never happened up here before, you have to recognise that, too. We work under different conditions up here than down in the valley, starting with the provision and transport of goods. And then of course there very special requirements: if you think how much we have going on in the Christmas holidays, or at peak times in February – it’s a huge challenge to keep delivering the quality. If we then are seen as worthy of a toque for what we serve up here, then of course we’re happy. But the most important thing is that our guests are happy. And that we send out proper food. No matter how much is going on.

and did you properly celebrate winning the award?

Well, as I said, it’s also an enormous team effort. So I try to give everyone some freedom. We are growing together and learning from each other, too. That’s why I enjoy working here so much. They’re not just my work colleagues, they’re friends too. That’s really important to me. If we can value ourselves, or keep a toque, than I’m happy.

are you here in the summer too?

Yes and no; sometimes I am, sometimes not. Two summers ago I worked here, but I have to be honest, I’m more of a winter type when it comes to Ischgl. In the summer it’s really different here, there are lots of pensioners, hikers, bikers. They are looking for a different type of cuisine, which frankly speaking isn’t really mine. Instead of this I move around in summer. I have cooked at some world exhibitions, in Shanghai, in Milan and in Saragossa. And last summer I was in Berlin.

how many people work in your kitchen?

There are seven of us. One of us has a day off each day. Last year was extreme. Someone was always ill in the high season and there were only five of us. But that’s the limit.

Ischgl has lots of very different visitors. do you notice that in the kitchen?

Well, there really are big differences. Before Christmas, there are lots more guests ordering schnitzel or pasta. Then comes Christmas, where they treat themselves a bit more. A better bottle of wine, a rib eye steak, something like that. In January, when our Russian guests are here, we always have more caviar and oysters. And for the Russians, it’s also all about making sure the food gets out to the table quickly.

what makes ischgl so great for you?

You meet a lot of people, very different people. It’s very international here, the guests and the team, too. And you can have a great time in your time off, too.  I’ve got a ski pass, for example, and it would be stupid not to take advantage of it. I learnt to ski here in Ischgl, by the way – my colleague taught me.