PAZNAUN CHEFS: ANDREAS SPITZER, HOTEL FLIANA

He is 31, has lived in Ischgl for twelve years, and has been awarded two chef’s hats by Gault Millau (equivalent to Michelin stars). Andreas Spitzer loves Austrian cooking in general and Kaspressknödel (Tyrolean cheese dumplings) in particular – the very best, though, are made not in his kitchen, he says, but by his mother. In his own kitchen, he’s more creative – you can find out just how in this Trisanna portrait.

 

Name
Andreas Spitzer

Age
31, born in Zell am See

Place of residence
Kappl

Job
Head chef at Hotel Fliana

Family
Married, two children

What brought you to Paznaun?
After my culinary training in Maria Alm, I landed up in Ischgl twelve years ago.

Why exactly here?
I applied for jobs in Lech, Sankt Anton and Ischgl. Ischgl was the first reply I received, and then my job turned into my vocation.

How did you become aware of it?
During my training, I learnt classical techniques and Austrian cuisine in the traditional way. I still benefit from that today. In Ischgl, I was suddenly working with totally new products and I gradually learnt the fine tuning, the final touches.

You’ve been the head chef at the Hotel Fliana restaurant since 2010. How would you describe your cooking today?
Even though we work with different textures and try out new techniques, taste is always paramount for us. We make sure that we retain the fundamental flavours of Austrian cuisine, no matter how creative we are.

Do you have a favourite dish to cook?
I only put on the menu things that I enjoy cooking.

And your favourite dish to eat?
It’s Kaspressknödelsuppe – Tyrolean cheese dumpling soup. The best is the one made by my mother, my wife or my mother in law. Then by me.

What makes the day a good day for you?
When my guests and my family are happy, then I am too. They’re both important for me.

What was it like the first time you came to Ischgl?
The place blew me away. I wondered for a moment where I really was. The lifestyle, the fast pace, which applies to the place itself too, these high standards of quality – I haven’t seen anything like this anywhere else before. And I still find it incredibly good fun today.

Do you need to relax at times?
In the winter I snowboard and go cross country skiing, in the summer I’m out and about a lot on my mountain bike. Sport is the best remedy for stress. That’s how I come down.

So you’re open in summer, too?
Yes, it’s become more and more popular. Many people realise that they need nature, they have to be outdoors.

The restaurant has been awarded two chef’s hats (equivalent to Michelin stars). Was that ever your aim?
My last position before becoming head chef here was with Martin Sieberer. I learnt the finer points of cooking with him. Then the opportunity arose to take on the newly-built four star superior Hotel Fliana. Everything went well, and I started wanting to establish a gourmet restaurant here, too. So in that sense, an award or a star was actually what I was aiming for.

How did you celebrate?
We had a great meal and then we had a really good party.

Really good?
Yes, you need that from time to time. We always go out partying as a team in the season as well. We talk about completely different things, the atmosphere is relaxed and sometimes you simply have to let go, too.

Do you have any real role models?
There are many good chefs, and you can pick and choose the best from them. We go out to eat often, I look at cookbooks and I just go through life with open eyes. That’s how it develops.

Do you still have goals?
Of course I would like to achieve more. That’s why we do our very best each day.

Are there any requests from guests which you wouldn’t meet?
I make sure we are able to satisfy every request.

And if someone orders ketchup with rice?
Then we would do that, too.

Do you have a favourite spot in Paznaun?
The Grübelsee lake above Kappl is a magical place for me. It lies in a bowl, and when I ride up there in the autumn on my mountain bike, for example, the sight of it is simply incredible.

What would be your advice to a young chef today?
Be determined and keep going. Because it’s worth it.

Why?
Because my job is really great job. You can discover the whole world, work with great products and make people happy directly.

How can you recognise a good chef?
The quality of the sauces is very important, of course, but also the roasts and the quality of the products.

Are you a chef who shouts?
No, absolutely not. I am tough when I have to be, but I believe you can accomplish much more in a harmonious environment. Shouting is for me a sign of insecurity.

Do you have a signature dish?
Not yet, we’re too young for that. We have kept our goose liver with sweet potato, cherry, hazelnut and truffle brioche, and the saddle venison with pine nuts, pumpkin and radishes, on the menu, but we’ve redesigned everything else.