He’s 36 years old and became a chef “pretty much by accident.” He was one of the founders of the “Stiar” restaurant, putting it on Ischgl’s culinary map overnight. He gets most of his produce from his own farm and loves to develop dishes “from the Alpine pantry”. Here’s the big conversation with the award-winning chef Gunther Döberl.
Place of birth
Place of residence
Head chef at Ischgl’s “Stiar” restaurant
What brought you to Paznaun?
Did you always want to be a chef?
No, I actually wanted to be a goldsmith. But after work experience as a chef, I trained at Rosenberger in Linz. After working in Deuringschlössle, Bregenz and with Dieter Koschina in Vila Joya on the Algarve, I first came to Montafon and from there to the Hotel Romantica in Ischgl. I soon became head chef there.
Have you been in Ischgl since then?
No. I did meet my wife there, but then we went to Dublin and Graubünden, before coming back to Ischgl again. I worked for five more years as head chef in the Romantica. Then the Zangerl family were planning the “Stiar” and asked me if I would like to be head chef there. And I did really want to!
What was your culinary philosophy as you approached the job?
The cuisine should be an expression of where we live. I see the Alps as our pantry. We get beef, pork and lamb from our own farm, run by Mr. Zangerl. They’re slaughtered, disjointed and prepared in our own butcher’s. The Alpine range goes even further, for me, though – as far as lemons from Menton – they’re at the furthest end for me.
So your cuisine is very produce-oriented?
Absolutely. We have our own maturing cabinet, for example, where we can dry age our meat. This makes it possible to create very special flavours.
Are you involved in product development?
Yes, it’s an important part of my job. We want, for example, to lease a mountain pasture next season. I’m expecting great things from it. Hermann Huber, Paznaun’s master cheesemaker, will help us with it.
But you’re happy to do without delicacies like saltwater fish?
Yes, it doesn’t fit with the Alpine theme. Instead, I use sheatfish or trout from Kappl, for example, or shrimp, which is produced to an excellent standard in Bavaria. I can express myself very well with these products.
You were awarded 16 Gault Millau points straightaway in “Stiar”’s first year. Are you satisfied?
You’re never one hundred percent happy with a review. The minute you are satisfied, you stop getting better.
Does the crowded gourmet scene in Ischgl represent inspiration or competition for you?
It’s more an enrichment. Many good chefs ensure that the quality sector grows in size. That’s important to me.
How many menus do you have each season?
How many chefs work with you in the kitchen?
14. We don’t just cook for the gourmet restaurant, we also cook for 120 house guests in the Sporthotel Silvretta.
What kind of things inspire you?
Really conventional things which I can develop further with a twist. For example, a slice of milt, which I serve as with truffles as a snack. Or a yeast dumpling, which I completely reconstruct, so that people see that a hut snack can also be something pretty special.
What is your aim?
To keep on improving. Everything else will come by itself.