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I’m completely self-taught. I only knew other kitchens as a customer, which is a nice position to be in. It was my curiosity that led me to become one of the best – and best-known – chefs in Austria, my determination to perfect my skills continually, and my creativity. Creativity has always played an important part in my family, and it’s a tradition that goes back a long way, whether it’s been painting, writing or cooking: we have always needed to express our artistic side very clearly. When I opened the Taubenkobel with my wife Eveline in 1984, we agreed that the one who was the best cook should be in the kitchen, whilst the one who was most charming in terms of dealing with customers would take care of things front-of-house. It was a close-run thing, but looking back, I think it was the right decision. The recognition we get from our customers on a daily basis and the awards we get from the critics, such as our two Michelin stars, are what stimulate me and my team and encourage us to keep working. My cooking is rooted in the local area and its produce: it's authentic cooking and it evolves in a way that's open-minded, intelligent and spontaneous.
Wild chervil (also called cow parsley) has a very distinctive aroma. The plant is indigenous to our region, but most people consider it a weed and don’t even know that they could cook with it. On the other hand, only the leaves are edible. I’ve been using it for 30 years now, and since it grows right in front of my door, I always have a fresh supply! I put it in soups and purées, and use it to flavor various recipes. But the main dish in which I use it is Kerbelcremesuppe mit Ei, wild chervil cream soup with egg. It makes a superb combination.