With his second book, Vitus Winkler now finally ascends to the Mount Olympus of Alpine chefs and simultaneously confirms his powerful ratings in leading gourmet guides. In 2020, Gault Millau Austria awarded his cuisine at the Sonnhof in St. Veit im Pongau (50 km south of Salzburg) 17 points and 4 toques! He received 92 points in Falstaff, while A la Carte gave him 91 points.
Together with his wife Eva-Maria, Vitus Winkler is now the third generation of his family to run the Sonnhof in St. Veit, with his parents still both actively involved. A constellation that is quite typical for most family-operated hotels and restaurants in Salzburger Land in Austria.
The fact that he has now opened a window into the extraordinary culinary world of Alpine cuisine through this magnificent volume of illustrations and recipes is to his great credit! Vitus´ book is very much a showcase for contemporary Alpine cooking, which keeps its roots and traditions fresh while continuously exploring new ground, inspiring gastronomic and gourmet worlds alike.
”Kräuterreich” is also the portrait of a chef who dedicates all his power and creativity to the refinement of products from the surrounding fields, gardens, meadows, forests, mountains and valleys; and especially those herbs that are important components of each individual dish. Over the course of a year, Vitus uses over 100 different herbs. Practically every day, he is out and about in the forest harvesting what each season has to offer. Often alone either on foot or by E-bike. And not rarely, accompanied by his kitchen team or guests of the Sonnhof. Needless to say, the herbs don’t only serve as decoration. They are processed, potted and fermented into pestos, oils, teas, crèmes and much more.
Each dish has its own story
Each dish in this book tells an authentic story, the products themselves interwoven with personal experiences. This begins, in fact, with how each of the chapters is compiled, organized according to geographic elevation and terrain: starting out with “In the Village” and “In the Field”, continuing with “Rivers & Lake”, the “To the Tree Line” and “Alpine Pastures”, ultimately concluding with a chapter entitled “On the Summit”.
The names of the dishes are likewise very mystical and descriptive. They ingeniously capture the content, optics and heritage of the products. The dessert entitled “Tauern Gold” (in the slideshow) references both the medieval gold-mining tradition as well as the play of color on the plate. An ice cream made from Tauern rye, drizzled with dandelion honey and decorated with dandelion petals shines next to plum dumplings tossed in poppy seeds and gold nuggets made from dark chocolate coated with a hint of gold dust. A complete work of art!
Whether “Rose Quartz”, “Forest Pool”, “Heartbeat” or “Quarry” – the composition and presentation of all 58 dishes in the book is both touching and tempting.
Especially worthy of mention is the chapter “Treasure Chamber”, in which Vitus Winkler describes the various steps involved in refining and preparing a series of small dishes including hay yogurt, pine milk, jus of wild game, a wild herb pesto and much more. Around 50 such tips and tricks add a bold exclamation mark at the conclusion of this book – recipes that you should definitely replicate in your own kitchen at home! Big compliments also go to author Rainer Schillings and photographer Mario Stockhausen, who were able to translate the Alpine cuisine of Vitus Winkler perfectly into words and pictures.
The preface to the book was penned by “Chef of the Century” Eckart Witzigmann (awarded by Gault Millau Germany), who, like Vitus Winkler, comes from the Pongau region of Salzburg. He sees in Vitus a culinary soulmate who, like himself, is drawn by the beauty and preciousness of the Alps as a source of inspiration and direction for his culinary approach: “Vitus Winkler has recognized the potential of herbs, casting a spotlight on them cleverly and attentively. In so doing, they become the secret ingredient in his Alpine cuisine, which distinguishes itself through imaginative, creative recipes and best local ingredients”. Eckart Witzigmann knows what he is talking about.
Kräuterreich – Geheimnisse der alpinen Küche
Matthaes Verlag, Stuttgart, 2020
Link zur Bestellung:
Verwöhn- und Genießerhotel Sonnhof
A-5621 St. Veit im Pongau, SalzburgerLand
+43 6415 4323