A culinary vision becomes reality

A Feast for the Chef

Eckart Witzigmann has always been known as “The Chef” to his students and companions, no matter how many Michelin stars and triumphs each of them has individually achieved in the meantime. Our chef, my chef, will be celebrating his 75th birthday on July 4th – and Hans Haas, Harald Wohlfahrt, Karlheinz Hauser, Bobby Bräuer, Marc Haeberlin and Roland Trettl are set to prepare a fabulous feast for him. So, we will be celebrating our patron’s birthday at Restaurant Ikarus throughout the entire month of July.

For me, this is the perfect opportunity to tell the story of this – still very unique – restaurant.
Eckart Witzigmann is the star of this story, alongside Dietrich Mateschitz, the founder and owner of Red Bull. Normally my travels take me all over the world – but right now, they take me back in time: It’s the summer of 2003 and Hangar-7 is still under construction. The concept for a future-oriented, non-fusty museum is all set – the exhibits, historic aircraft, are going to be ready for take-off at any time, around the clock. They are even to be flown on a regular basis by the company’s own pilots, the Flying Bulls. Mateschitz also has a vision for a corresponding restaurant in Hangar-7; he wants to present culinary realms that are just as dynamic and constantly varied as the technical exhibition of the aircraft. To implement his plans, he seeks out the man who is idolized by every chef of that era: Eckart Witzigmann. A mutual friend, the Austrian downhill skier Werner Grissmann, arranges the meeting with the chef of the century – who was born in Bad Gastein and is himself an avid skier. Mateschitz wants to find a kind of “chef in residence” for his restaurant. By that, he means individual, prominent chefs are to showcase their talents for a few months in Salzburg and then return to their own restaurants. Witzigmann’s response is short and to the point: “Absolutely impossible!” But Mateschitz casually replies that he should delete the word “Can’t” from his vocabulary and not give up before he’s even tried. The Chef accepts the challenge. The two of them put their heads together and develop the guest chef concept (still being used today). The two big questions, of course, are: “Are we going to be able to convince enough exciting chefs to come to Salzburg?” And: “How are we going to find customers and regular patrons when everything changes every month?” But Witzigmann brings the shared vision to fruition. Aside from the big questions, there are naturally countless small challenges. For example, our – fabulous – kitchen is located in the basement, so only the installation of a heated dumbwaiter enables us to promptly serve hot food to our guests. At the start of this great journey, our mentor Witzigmann summons Roland Trettl and me to Salzburg. Both of us are still very young and have just cooked our way to our very first Michelin stars, in Majorca and Munich respectively. We are incredibly proud to work on this great project as Executive Chef and as Chef de Cuisine.

Today, whenever the world’s best chefs come to our restaurant in Salzburg, they always know former guest chefs who have taken home positive experiences from their time in Salzburg. The trust of these chefs is enormously important because, after all, they are revealing their cooking secrets to us. And they rely on us to cook their dishes just as well as they prepare them in their restaurants at home. After all, we want to enhance their good reputations, not compromise them. But in the early years, no one had yet heard of the remarkable Restaurant Ikarus in a small city on the edge of the Austrian Alps that was actually famous for music, not cuisine. So anyone who came to Ikarus as a guest chef in those early years truly trusted Eckart Witzigmann. The very first to take the plunge was Gerhard Schwaiger, who at the time was chef de cuisine at the two-star restaurant Tristan on Majorca. Not long ago, his apprentice Peter Knogl was also our guest. And that was coincidentally in the same month in which his restaurant, the Cheval Blanc in Basel, was awarded its third Michelin star. Knogl is not an isolated case: from Alex Atala and René Redzepi to Eneko Atxa, all of these chefs have been our guests, even before they were honoured as contemporary culinary heroes. Dominique Crenn, who was our guest chef this past March, was certainly not unknown when she presented her poetic cuisine here – but shortly thereafter she was voted the World’s Best Female Chef.

Two things were unusual for Eckart Witzigmann at first: Winning our own Michelin stars was not part of the original concept. We want to present the culinary artistry of other chefs, not our own. Nonetheless, we were awarded our second star this spring. That was not planned, but it certainly makes us proud – the timing is fortuitous, enabling us to pay special tribute to The Chef on his anniversary. This second star will certainly help assure future guest chefs that we will represent them well.

Secondly, the constant search for the latest developments in haute cuisine also carries the risk of failure. The risk that individual dishes or an entire menu can be a flop with our patrons is even greater than it was in the legendary Tantris or in the Aubergine – because there they prepared only their own recipes, which were continually refined over the years. So our success rate at Restaurant Ikarus is truly exceptional. But of course not every new cooking discovery is truly a culinary step forward and not every menu that fascinates us as chefs finds acclaim among our guests. Here is a bit of wisdom that Eckhart Witzigmann and Dietrich Mateschitz have mutually grasped: It is the many, colourful influences, ingredients and culinary luminaries that make dining at Restaurant Ikarus a rich and complex experience. Anyone who accepts the potential for failure also experiences the many moving moments of absolute delight – the risk is worth it!

Meanwhile, The Chef no longer has to promote us among his friends and students, nor fly all over the world personally cultivating guest chefs. But this network of trust, which carries us all, is unthinkable without our patron Eckart Witzigmann.

Merci, Chef! We Wish You a Very Happy Birthday!

Recorded by Hans Gerlach

Restaurant Ikarus

Wilhelm-Spazier-Str. 7A
5020 Salzburg, Austria

Tel.: +43-662-2197-0
Fax: +43-662-2197-3786



  • all
  • Guest chefs at the Ikarus
  • Martin Klein on tour
  • Cookery books

Guest chefs at Restaurant Ikarus

Guest chefs 2017

Ikarus invites the world`s best chefs

The Hangar-7 cookery book 2016 /en/service-shop/ikarus-invites-the-worlds-best-chefs-2016/

Guest chef at Restaurant Ikarus: August 2017

Ikarus Team

Martin Klein and the
Ikarus Team

Salzburg, Austria

Guest chef at Restaurant Ikarus: July 2017

Daniel Boulud

Martin Klein meets

Daniel Boulud
New York City, USA

Guest chef at Restaurant Ikarus: June 2017

Thomas Bühner

Martin Klein meets

Thomas Bühner
Osnabrück, Germany

Guest chef at Restaurant Ikarus: May 2017

Isaac McHale /en/ikarus/guest-chef-at-restaurant-ikarus/2017/isaac-mchale/

Martin Klein meets

Isaac McHale
London, Great Britain

Guest chef at Restaurant Ikarus: April 2017

José Avillez /en/ikarus/guest-chef-at-restaurant-ikarus/2017/jose-avillez/

Martin Klein meets

José Avillez
Lisboa, Portugal

Guest chefs at Restaurant Ikarus: March 2017

"Best of Vienna"

Guest chef at Restaurant Ikarus: February 2017

Manish Mehrotra

Martin Klein meets

Manish Mehrotra
New-Delhi, India

Guest chef at Restaurant Ikarus: January 2017

Christophe Muller

Martin Klein meets

Christophe Muller
Collonges au Mont d´Or

Guest chef at Restaurant Ikarus: December 2016

Søren Selin

Guest chef at Restaurant Ikarus: November 2016

Christian Bau

Martin Klein meets

Christian Bau
Perl-Nennig/Mosel, Germany

Ikarus invites the world`s best chefs

The Hangar-7 cookery book 2015 /en/service-shop/ikarus-invites-the-worlds-best-chefs-2015/

Guest chef at Restaurant Ikarus: October 2016

Vladimir Mukhin

Martin Klein meets

Vladimir Mukhin
Moscow, Russia

Guest chef at Restaurant Ikarus: September 2016

Syrco Bakker

Martin Klein meets

Syrco Bakker
Cadzand-Bad, Netherlands

Chefs at Restaurant Ikarus: August 2016

Ikarus Team

Martin Klein and the
Ikarus Team

Salzburg, Austria /en/ikarus/martin-klein-auf-reisen/2016/martin-klein-and-the-ikarus-team/