MUSHROOM MAGIC Heinz Reitbauer, Hunter and Collector

The appearance of Heinz Reitbauer was eagerly anticipated at CHEF SACHE 2017, Germanys biggest stage cooking festival with Top-Chefs from all over the world. He is one of the few chefs in the world who has consistently – for years – made it to the absolute top of the “World’s 50 Best Restaurants” rankings. He had announced in advance that his presentation on stage would focus on mushrooms.

Anyone who knows him also knows that he is always interested in exploring new culinary territories – and so he presented mushrooms that have been until now practially unknown as a fine edible ingredient in the top gastronomy universe: the bearded hedgehog mushroom (also known as the lion’s mane, bearded tooth, satyr’s beard and pom pom mushroom); the sheathed woodtuft; the shaggy ink cap (also called lawyer’s wig or shaggy mane); and various mushrooms of the Russula family.

The Steirereck-Team presented these dishes

Bacon & Beans Stew with Spaghetti Squash

Venison Heart with Grain, Sheated Woodthuft & Mushrom Plant

Nasturtium Blossom with Parasol Mushroom, Elderflower, & Oxalis

Crispy leek with Pom Pom Blanc, pheasant & Scotish lovage

Shaggy ink cap mushroom with Jerusalem Artichoke, romaine lettuce, & yacón

Russula with sea lettuce, walnut leaves, kidney fat from goat kid


“We have been working intensively with mushrooms for two years,” says Heinz Reitbauer. “This is a fascinating world that we are just getting to know – there’s always something new to discover! You have to find out about each variety, how it is prepared best, shows its taste best and when it is optimally eaten and digestible. We have learned that Russulas must cook for up to 20 minutes until they become tender and wholesome. They will still retain their nutty taste. But other mushrooms would fall apart with the same cooking process.”

The versatile sheathed woodtuft has become one of the most important mushrooms in the kitchen of the Steirereck: it is a flavouring mushroom that also ensures binding ability in sauces, and it can be very good for fermenting and preserving.

The collecting of sheathed woodtufts in nature should be left to the real professionals. The common sheathed woodtuft has two poisonous doppelgangers. But harmless are the Japanese species, which are being increasingly bred in Europe.

“The shaggy ink cap is widespread throughout our regions, but hardly anyone knows about it or how to prepare it,” says Heinz Reitbauer in drawing attention to another favourite mushroom. “Especially as young mushrooms, they have a great taste – something between the parasol and wild mushrooms! It is also very versatile, in soups or creams, for example.  Most exciting is when fried. To do this, you first have to put it in a seasoning stock, then dry it,  and then fry it; it gets a fluffy, porous consistency that reminds me of pork rind. Brilliant!”

Brilliant is also what the viewers in front of the main stage in the Böhler-Areal thought while watching what Heinz Reitbauer prepared from seemingly “unremarkable” mushrooms. For an hour, it was so silent that even the drop of a pin could be heard. No one left the hall.