A gentleman and a chef – Austrian contemporary cuisine
No. 10 / 50 Best 2017, Chef of the Decade (Gault Millau, Austria)
Understatement is a classic English trait. Marked by reserve and self-irony, it makes even the most impressive achievement seem run-of-the-mill. The opposite of American brashness, it’s a characteristic of the true English gentleman. It’s a quality that Heinz Reitbauer Junior embodies down to his fingertips. This modest and reserved man is in fact one of the key players in Austrian cuisine. Long the country’s undisputed number one (he has even been crowned Chef of the Decade), he’s often mentioned in the same breath as Redzepi, Bottura or Roca. And to his ‘pupils’, many of whom have become top chefs in their own right, he has passed on the same spirit of enquiry, the same precision and wealth of ideas. Constantly on the lookout for forgotten regional ingredients, Reitbauer aims to showcase the potential of Austrian produce. But he’s not about simply reinterpreting the Austrian classics. Everything he does is new, unique and unmistakably his own. Heinz’ restaurant, which he runs with his wife Brigit at front of house, embodies this split between traditional regional ingredients and contemporary international cuisine. Located in the Stadtpark in Vienna, it’s a historical building enhanced with a bold reflective facade. Just like Reitbauer’s cooking, it both absorbs and reflects its surroundings.