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Interview with Rolf Bäck, fisherman on the Lake Starnberg
Mr Bäck, the early bird catches the worm. Are you an early bird? Well, you don’t have much choice if you’re a fisherman – you have to be out early. My working day starts at sunrise. In summer that’s at about 5 and in winter about 7.30. I take my boat out to my nine nets and the fish traps, which I placed in the lake the evening before, and then collect the catch. I first drink a coffee when I’m back at home.
Are you the only out there at that time? At my fishing locations, yes. They’re in the middle of the lake off the west bank towards Tutzing. Otherwise there are 35 lake fishermen at Lake Starnberg.
What do you usually catch? It varies, depending on the season. In winter, it’s whitefish and pike season. Then in summer, it’s eel, char, bream, carp. Now and then there’s a brown trout. Besides, you catch different fish at the bank of the lake than in the deep water.
Can you knit? Yes, but not jumpers! The gillnets I use have to be repaired from time to time, so I repair the damaged stitches with a netting needle. You learn how to knit nets when you train to become a master fisher.
Friday is fish day! Right? Well, nothing’s changed at my business. Friday is always the strongest day of the week. I always supply restaurants on Thursdays and Fridays in the morning. And normally not whole fish, instead fillets make up 80%. Apparently, most guests are not keen on fiddling about with the fish bones...
Does fish smell of fish? My wild lake fish doesn't smell of anything, only of fresh lake water. Not even carp, which lots of people say smells swampy, smells because I catch it wild in the lake.
Can you taste the difference between the fish? Definitely! Whitefish has a slightly nutty aroma, carp on the other hand has a very strong taste and char tastes very fine and elegant. It tastes different depending on the food the fish eats.
Can you actually drink red wine with fish? Why not? Some fish has darker meat. A young fresh red wine from South Tyrol goes well with carp, arctic char or brown trout.
Do you eat fish everyday? You won’t believe me but I only eat fish once a week – on Fridays. And then according to recipes my friend Holger surprises me with from time to time. I got the recipe for the whitefish fillets from him by the way, but don’t tell anyone...
When not fish, then...? A roast. Preferably with lots of sauce.
Interview with Tom Heinzle, BBQ-professional
Mr Heinzle, you are an award-winning BBQ professional. Does barbecuing involve more than simply putting a piece of meat on the grill? Definitely. Barbecuing has to be an allround experience. This includes great food, a cosy atmosphere, several courses, beautiful crockery and a pleasant ambience.
What does a piece of meat need? It needs natural salt, good pepper and the best olive oil. I think it’s important that the meat is wellmatured and comes from animals that have been treated well. I love dry-aged meat.
What do you always have in your fridge? A good piece of meat, obviously. But I always have different kinds of vegetables, depending on the season, too.
Your most important tool when cooking? A hot grill. And definitely sharp knives. But the best ingredients are also important cooking tools.
And do you also barbecue in winter? Very much so. I prefer to use charcoal in winter. Especially in a Kamado grill or a BBQ smoker. I also have a fire on the entire time – it keeps everyone warm and creates a great atmosphere...
What dish makes you feel happy? I love boiled beef with horseradish and apple sauce and fried potatoes. And a glass of Grüner Veltliner to top it off.
Do you have a favourite grill? It depends on the situation as well as the season. I work with all types of grills. But the actual grill device is only one part of the whole picture. What counts is what’s served up on the plate.
You have written several books on barbecuing. Have you published a new one? Yes, I have. After four books on specific subjects, my new book “Toms Grillwerkstatt” (“Tom’s BBQ workshop”) will be coming out at the end of February. This book is all about barbecuing, an all-rounder. It includes barbecuing with a kettle grill, smoker, Kamado and gas grill, on an open fire and in a hole in the earth. There are also more than 100 great recipes and lots of information on meat, seasoning and menus.
Interview with the Kitchen Guerilla, chefs and free spirits
Mr Elci, there’s no place like home, as the saying goes. You’re at home everywhere... Our stove is the world. As long as a cook can make a fire with his or her own bare hands, then any piece of wood makes everywhere feel like home.
Ingredients, expertise, creativity. What would you say is more important? Something of everything. But nothing is more important than the right dosage. You should use the best ingredients, creatively, consciously and skilfully – less ingredients is more. I normally cook e.g. with no more than three ingredients – no frills, no fuss.
What is the most delicious food you have ever eaten? That could fill several pages. But the “most delicious” memories are from my childhood. Such as the first fish and octopus I caught with my dad and prepared for the family. Or the first cakes my gran and I baked with fruit from our garden. Also delicious, spontaneous meals my mum made, which contained seasonal ingredients. This is why I fell in love with so many types of vegetables...
What is so great about dining together? The sharing – sharing food, sharing feelings.
When do you say “no, thank you” to food? I always have a good appetite. And I hardly ever use words with “no” when it comes to food.
When you’re not cooking, then...? I’m baking. In our bakery “Focacceria Bonassola” in Hamburg.
Can food also be a piece of home away from home? The world is our home, s o – yes!
Are there places/locations where you would like to cook? Definitely. Border regions where there are a lot of con?licts, where there are divided towns and walls... From Africa to the Middle East.? Notwithstanding the above, what’s missing from our list is New York. Our goal this year – to cook above the roofs of NYC.
Interview with Rebecca Clopath, chef
Ms Clopath, you are renowned for your natural cuisine. Do you find your ingredients on the roadside? Yes, I find a lot in meadows and forests. But my ingredients come from my own garden and the farm, too. I’m also always looking out for new producers of food that neither I nor m y parents have cultivated yet.
Do you see yourself as an artisan or an artist? I think it’s a bit of both. I wouldn’t describe myself as an artist. It’s true that I cook with a different ulterior motive than a lot of other people do. It’s important to treat the food honestly and therefore ultimately the guest. You can also tell that my work is inspired and directed by nature, legends, stories and even art. But balance and coherence on a plate is just as important to me, a kind of eco system. With the aim of taking over and running the farm one day, the emphasis will be more on artisanship again.
What does “good cooking” actually mean? Good cooking... Good cooking means, in my opinion, to show consciousness, gratitude and understanding when preparing food. Something that excites the senses. As well as an interest in fair, sustainable and organic food.
What should a carrot taste like? Like a carrot! Fruity, sweet and w ith a hint of flowers. As well as a light ethereal fragrance similar to fennel or caraway. But every different type of carrot has its own taste.
Is the appearance of food becoming more and more important? I think it’s difficult to say. Times change, which in turn changes the taste of something you visualise. Haven’t we humans wanted to improve the appearance of everything for a while now?
Which dish triggers childhood memories? There are so many. My mother was a great cook and it would be difficult to limit myself to just one dish. For example, stuffed goose, cooked just like in the Middle Ages and with everything that goes with it. Or simply semolina pudding with stewed cherries, beluga lentils with cardamom, freshly made yoghurt, bread, proper Black Forest Gateau, Frankfurt crown cake or Donauwelle... There is just so much more.
Can you reveal anything about your new projects? I’m doing a farmer course in the Bernese Oberland at the moment. After that, I want to learn more about agriculture from other farmers such as vegetable farmers. Later, at my parent’s farm, I want to cultivate or collect plants that I can then prepare and serve to guests. I want to show what we have right on our doorstep and how precious nature is.