He is the Chef of the Century, Germany’s first three-star chef, Professeur de la Cuisine and the man in charge of Restaurant Ikarus. And in July he is turning 75. In honour of Eckart Witzigmann, Restaurant Ikarus in Hangar-7 is hosting a month-long culinary birthday celebration, which will be attended by a number of unique guests.
Words simply cannot describe the importance of Eckart Witzigmann’s contribution to haute cuisine in the German-speaking world. The word “doyen” springs to mind, however, as it is clear that:
No other person has made as significant an impression on the culinary scene as the man from the Austrian spa town of Bad Gastein, near Salzburg, who set out to impress the world.
He spent 13 years abroad, gathering experience in top-class restaurants.
He drew particular inspiration from Paul Bocuse in Lyon and the Haeberlin brothers in the Alsace.
In 1971, Witzigmann began a spell working at the legendary Tantris restaurant in Munich. In 1973, the restaurant was awarded its first Michelin star, followed a year later by its second in 1974.
In 1978, Witzigmann opened his first restaurant, Aubergine. Just one year later, Eckart Witzigmann was awarded three Michelin stars, making him the first German-speaking chef to achieve this honour, and only the second chef outside of France.
However, it is not just his awards that make Eckart Witzigmann so unique. In order to understand his special status, you need only look at the list of chefs who have learnt their trade from Witzigmann. It is a truly starstudded list, headed up by Harald Wohlfahrt, Claus-Peter Lumpp and Christian Jürgens, not forgetting star chefs such as Bobby Bräuer, Hans Haas and Karlheinz Hauser, and television personalities such as Johann Lafer and Alfons Schuhbeck.
All milestones in a life that remains unsurpassed by any other, and which, in 1994, led to Witzigmann being named Chef of the Century by Gault Millau, finally confirming his status as a living legend on the culinary scene.
In the years that followed, only royalty and those who just happened to be in the right place at the right time – or perhaps both – were able to enjoy his cuisine. He found himself cooking for monarchs such as Queen Elizabeth II, King Harald of Norway, King Carl-Gustav and Queen Silvia of Sweden and the Maharaja of Jaipur. “Ordinary people” were given the opportunity to experience it between 2006 and 2008 when he toured through a number of European cities with the acclaimed culinary show projects Witzigmann Palazzo and Witzigmann & Roncalli Bajazzo.
In 2003, Witzigmann caused quite a stir with his new project: as head of Restaurant Ikarus, he became the patron of the guest chef concept, a culinary concept unlike any other in the world, which brings the world’s best top chefs to Salzburg, month after month. Witzigmann’s role is that of an advisor and mentor, and he also works together with Executive Chef Martin Klein to select the guest chefs, while providing constant support and assistance to the 50-strong Ikarus Team.
So where better to honour this man than at Hangar-7? To mark Eckart Witzigmann’s 75th birthday, Restaurant Ikarus is rolling out the red carpet and inviting you to a celebration, which, like the birthday boy himself, looks set to be legendary. Amongst the well-wishers will be some of Witzigmann’s closest friends, most valued companions and most noteworthy students from the last few decades – and as a gift they will be creating a menu that every visitor to Restaurant Ikarus will be able to enjoy throughout the entire month.
As a one-off, in July 2016, there won’t be a single international top chef at Hangar-7 as a guest. There will be several of them. We are not at liberty to reveal their identities just yet, however – it is the little surprises that make a good party truly exciting. But one thing is for sure: this is one party you are really not going to want to miss.
ServusTV: Culinary Heights at Ikarus on ServusTV
Each month at Salzburg’s two Michelin-starred Restaurant Ikarus, a different top international chef creates the menu. For this globally unique concept, Hangar-7 executive chef Martin Klein visits the cream of the crop, takes a look behind the scenes of haute cuisine, and is let in on some exciting culinary secrets. “Culinary Heights at Ikarus” offers a unique glimpse into the world of high-end cuisine and provides an interesting portrait of each guest chef, their culinary philosophy, and the food culture of their country.