Different countries, different customs – and in Ischgl and Paznaun, we know the truth of this more than almost anywhere else. Especially when it comes to food. What’s important to different visitors? We asked Christian Törf, head chef at Alpenhaus, and he explained the differences between Austrians, Russians and the Dutch. Enjoy your meal!

The Alpenhaus lies at 2 300 metres above sea level in the middle of the Idalp, and if you go skiing in Ischgl, you pretty much can’t miss it. Especially not if good wine and excellent food are important to you – because as of this year, the Alpenhaus has been awarded a toque by the renowned Gault-Millau restaurant guide (the equivalent of a Michelin star). That’s quite an achievement for a restaurant sometimes still cheekily described as just a “ski hut”.

Christian Törf is behind the excellent food here. He’s the head chef at Alpenhaus and his responsibilities include, but are not limited to, the VIP lounge and the top floor sun terrace. This is where he sees, and meets, a great variety of visitors from a great variety of countries with a great variety of tastes (he’ll tell us more about than on Wednesday in our “Paznaun People” feature, and by all accounts he’s cooking for our Instagram feed too, but sshhh). But as a little taste of what’s to come, he tells us here what matters to different guests. It’s like this: in the run up to Christmas, there’s more schnitzel and pasta. That’s when there are skiers who mostly want to eat quickly and then get back out onto the slopes. But as soon as Christmas comes, the guests treat themselves to a little more. They might order a better wine, for example, or a rib eye steak. “For me it’s important that it’s fun and the guests are satisfied. We’re happy to make a cheesy sausage or mashed potatoes with peas, too. If that’s what they want,” says Christian Törf.

In January, when Russian holidaymakers visit Paznaun, there needs to be enough caviar and oysters in stock – both are in really great demand. What else is important for the Russians? They’re used to putting their food in the middle of the table and sharing everything. So the food doesn’t need to all arrive at the same time. It just needs be on the table quickly. “Davai“, as the Russians would say.
The Dutch are great fans of chips. It sounds like a cliché, but it’s true. We really should just ask them, “What would you like with your chips?” Otherwise, they’re not very different from the Austrians and the Germans.