80 years of Eckart Witzigmann
In January 2014, Martin Klein swapped the sunshine on a beautiful island in the South Pacific for the sometimes harsh winters in Austria. He had a pretty good reason to make that move: The executive chef job in Hangar-7 had just opened up. When the job offer came from Salzburg, Martin didn’t have to think twice. “You only get one chance in a lifetime to join a unique team in implementing what is probably the most interesting restaurant concept in the world.”
How easy or difficult is it to totally re-adapt to the philosophy and mentality of a new guest chef every month?
First of all, it is an exciting, motivating and one-of-a-kind situation … But of course it’s also pretty difficult. But my team and I have always been able to manage it.
Do you have any personal role models?
I met one of them, Paul Bocuse, in January, when I learned to make the world’s most famous soup.
And the other is our patron Eckart Witzigmann, who honours us every month when he helps us usher in the transition from one guest chef to the next.
Your greatest cooking disaster of all time?
I think that unfortunately still lies ahead of me.
What does ‘creativity in the kitchen’ mean to you?
After a good product, creativity is the most important component.
What’s your favourite cookbook?
Have you ever browsed through Hangar-7’s shop?
What does "honest food" mean for you?
Using no cooking aids and no flavour enhancers. It means product awareness, attention to detail and above all – honesty.
What makes a recipe successful in your opinion?
It has to bring a smile to the faces of our guests …
Do you like to cook at home?
Yes, very much. My girlfriend is also a chef and we share the task 50-50, or one of us cooks and the other does the washing up.
You’ve just awakened in the middle of the night feeling famished. What needs to be in your refrigerator right now?
That never happens to me... Once I'm in bed, I stay there until it’s time to get up.
What are your personal goals?
To continue to have a happy personal life, to be a good father, to be a good and successful Executive Chef for both Restaurant Ikarus and Hangar-7, and to do more to maintain my friendships.
What do you cook at home, when you have to get a warm meal on the table fast?
Pasta aglio e olio.
What do you like to do when you’re not working in the kitchen?
I try to spend the little spare time I have with my girlfriend and daughter.
Are there any countries that you definitely want to visit someday?
Yes, there are sooo many! I travel at lot due to my job, but unfortunately my stays are usually so short that I don’t get to see the cities I visit.
What would be your ideal holiday?
With Jörg and Tommy supervising things at work, I rent a camper for me and my girls... I pack my fishing rod for a little fly fishing, and off we go... a bonfire on the river in the evening, a char wrapped in foil, a bottle of wine and bug spray…
You love fly fishing. What makes this sport so fascinating for you?
My one and only hobby is fly fishing... It allows me to enjoy my connection to nature and its tranquillity. It’s the perfect counterweight to our hectic profession.
What advice would you give to young chefs who are just beginning their careers?
That they have chosen the greatest profession in the world and that they’ll need ambition, hard work and discipline to succeed.
Would you like to add anything else in conclusion?
I am always amazed at how hard it is to convince young chefs that our grandiose concept is a terrific idea.