80 years of Eckart Witzigmann
His career seems just like straight out of a picture book – colourful and rich in facets and successes, with surprising twists and turns, and marked by many creative ideas. In July, Eckart Witzigmann celebrates his 80th birthday and some of his companions and friends will not miss the opportunity to congratulate him with culinary fireworks.
During his career, Eckart Witzigmann has passed on his knowledge to countless up-and-coming chefs. His protégés affectionately refer to him as “mother of all chefs”. Gault Millau proclaimed him “Chef of the Century” in 1994, an award which had only been bestowed on three other exceptionally gifted chefs before: Paul Bocuse, Joël Robuchon and Frédy Girardet. Moreover, the award has not been conferred since 1994. The New York Times even dubbed Eckart Witzigmann “Chef of Kings and Gods” due to the fact that he has cooked for numerous dignitaries and crowned heads.
Based on an idea by Red Bull boss Dietrich Mateschitz, he devised the unique concept for Hangar-7’s Restaurant Ikarus at Salzburg Airport. The most creative and successful top chefs from all over the world are invited to Salzburg on a monthly basis – until 2013 under the leadership of Witzigmann’s former student Roland Trettl and since then under the aegis of Martin Klein. The international guest chefs showcase their talent and culinary vision – a highly innovative concept unlike any other in the world.
Eckart Witzigmann has a very close connection with each of the five guest chefs and their restaurants:
At Auberge de l’Ill in Alsace, Eckart Witzigmann received the most important impulses for his craft from cooking legend Paul Haeberlin. Haeberlin’s son Marc was still a child during Witzigmann’s active time in the restaurant. Today, he is the fourth generation to carry on the family’s cooking tradition as head chef.
For many years, Martin Fauster ran the gourmet restaurant at the Königshof in Munich, which was awarded one Michelin star. In the late 1990s, the Styrian-born chef met Eckart Witzigmann and organised the charity cooking event “Fauster & Friends” under his patronage between 2006 and 2018. Since 1 June 2021, Martin Fauster has been running a pop-up restaurant in the Kellerwirtschaft Franz Keller in Oberbergen. He will soon open his new Restaurant Morillon in the old town of Freiburg.
What would a tribute to Eckart Witzigmann be without a representative of the legendary Tantris? Matthias Hahn worked as Corporate Chef for Alain Ducasse for a long time. He developed numerous internationally successful restaurant concepts for the top French gastronome. Matthias Hahn has been in charge of the entire Tantris cuisine since this year.
Only last year Jan Hartwig was named “Chef of the Year” by the Great Restaurant & Hotel Guide, a distinction he had also received four years earlier from Der Feinschmecker magazine. With his Restaurant Atelier at Hotel Bayerischer Hof, Jan Hartwig follows the footsteps of Eckart Witzigmann and Heinz Winkler as the third three-star chef in Munich.
Tohru Nakamura has already won many prizes for his cooking. One of the first was the “International Eckart Witzigmann Award” in the younger generation category. He currently runs the pop-up gourmet restaurant SALON rouge by Tohru in the Werksviertel-Mitte in Munich.
Eckart Witzigmann is the creator of the guest chef concept at Hangar-7, and as the patron of the restaurant he is still the driving force under the wings of the Ikarus. In his honour, no fewer than five international top chefs will be demonstrating their cookery skills there in July. Join the ranks of the well-wishers and celebrate the exceptional talent at a culinary birthday party.
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.