Johanna Maier: Every day a new experiment
How do we know her?
Johanna Maier manages together with her husband Dietmar the "Hotel Hubertus" in Filzmoos in Austria, only 50 kilometers from the border to Germany. She has revolutionized the Austrian cuisine with a lot of self-confidence and creativity and has been awarded several times.
Today, the restaurant decorates four hoods, that's all there is to it. The company is one of the best three restaurants in Austria. The jury of the Michelin Guide tastes their food as good as the colleagues of Gault Millau: It gives her two out of three possible stars. Johanna Maier likes to reveal the secrets of her cooking skills - she is the author of several cookbooks.
What is your cooking philosophy?
"To have good taste - and to produce - you can learn," says the top chef. Johanna Maier explains in conversation with ChroniquesDuVasteMonde.com that she has taught herself most of the cooking. "That's why I can empathize with amateur cooks," she says. Only a few chefs would have the right feeling for cooking right from the start - even they would not have had it.
"Every day, it's a taster, a taste, an experiment, a feeling for the perfect," says Johanna Maier. Ideas for new dishes she finds when going for a walk, when she perceives different colors and smells. Then she goes with anticipation into the kitchen and experiments until she is satisfied, because "cooking is never over".
Of course, she has help in the kitchen, but it is very important to her that she cooks the dishes herself. She is convinced that her guests expect that too. She compares her restaurant guests with visitors to a museum: "If you go to a museum to see a picture of Picasso, then you should have painted it and not some young artist".
In the sports hotel of her Austrian hometown Radstadt, Johanna Maier completed a cookery and waiter apprenticeship in the 1970s. At that time, she had no idea that she would later earn her living as a top chef. In an apprentice competition she met her future husband Dietmar Maier - with him she has four children today. The two got involved in the operation of his parents.
During the first ten years, Johanna Maier took care of the service and guest rooms while her husband and mother-in-law were in charge of the kitchen. After her mother-in-law's death in 1984, Johanna Maier also worked in the hotel kitchen and cooked as she had learned. But she wanted more.
Then the key experience after their first season as a cook: A meal in a top-class restaurant, at the Obauers in nearby Werfen. Johanna Maier is enthusiastic and now knows: "That's how I want to cook". She attends a cooking seminar at the three-star chef Dieter Müller, is inspired by him. With success: The first hood of the delicatessen guide Gault Millau in 1987 was just the beginning.
There is not much life next to the cooking pot for Johanna Maier. Your day in the kitchen starts at 9 o'clock - long before the first lunchtime guests order their menu. Before midnight, she usually does not manage to get away from the stove. She finds the necessary balance every day while jogging, sometimes with yoga training, cycling or dancing.
"You have to give a lot for this profession," she says and her voice sounds wistful. Nevertheless, she can no longer imagine a life without cooking. "It took me a long time to get there, but it was absolutely right."
For their family there is usually a fast and healthy kitchen. Vegetables, salad and herbs are always there, but the dishes must be funny and taste interesting. "But that's quick and easy, if you can," says the top chef with a laugh.
Cooking with Johanna Maier: books and cooking classes
Books: "My cooking school" with DVD by Johanna Maier (October 2005, 45 Euro, Collection Rolf Heyne) and "Johanna Maier" by Johanna Maier (September 2003, 35 Euro, Collection Rolf Heyne)
Courses: Johanna Maier offers cooking courses for those interested. Currently, however, all courses are fully booked until further notice. Information and contact at www.hotelhubertus.at