Thursday, October 23, 2003

Johann Lafer - Germany's Most Famous TV Chef

At the site Relais & Chateaux - Johann Lafer's Stromburg - Golf one can read in English about Johann Lafer, Germany's most famous television cook, previous holder of two stars from Michelin, voted German Cook of the Year in 1997 by Gault Millau, whose hotel and restaurant (Le Val D'Or, 19 of 20 points from Gault Millau) are so popular that reservations must be made far in advance if you want to sample his culinary arts. His cookbooks - by last count, 42 of them - are also quite well-known and read in Germany, although I am not aware of any English translations. You can find one Lafer recipe in English here.

To avoid confusion, please note that Johann Lafer's "Stromburg" Hotel is located in the German town of "Stromberg" and that Stromberg in turn has its own Stromberg Golf Hotel, which is not the same as the "Stromburg". German Berg means mountain and Burg means castle, i.e. "Strom's castle on Strom's mountain." The rooms at Lafer's Stromburg Hotel are named after famous chefs and cookbook authors. Click here (German language website) to see that Lafer himself is in good company among his cooking peers.

My interest in the Lafer gourmet experience derives from the fact that his castle and restaurant are located in the same village which is home to the Stromberg Golf Club to which I belong, and we even have Lafer's castle in our golf club crest of arms as a symbol of the village.

Lafer offers a special gourmet experience which he calls "Heli Gourmet", a gourmet experience combined with helicopter travel. The HELI in "Heli Gourmet" means helicopter. For example, there is one "picknick" program where the guest and the entire gourmet experience (the guest, the food, table, chairs, service, even the cook) are coptered to a destination of the guest's choosing, e.g. a special place in natural open surroundings, and the meal is then served to the selected few guests at the outdoor site. The gourmet experience can also be combined with attendance at special events such as sporting competitions or Formula 1 racing.

There is no question that Lafer adds a bit of celebrity aura to Stromburg AND Stromberg, not to speak of the fact that the wine selection and cooking in his restaurant are rated as exceptional. Recently, Lafer has been traveling around Europe giving cooking programs on TV from his points of destination, which has only increased his already enormously popular standing as a cooking showmaster on the media scene.

Tenth Annual Masters of Food and Wine

The very popular Sally's Place for food, beverage and travel has an article by Steve Pitcher entitled Tenth Annual Masters of Food and Wine, which took place in Carmel, California earlier this year and about which Pitcher states: "The Masters is today unquestionably the finest forum for the culinary arts and epicurean pleasures to be found on the planet.".

The participants do indeed read like the who is who of cooking and so I was happy to read about the presence of a Johann Lafer from Germany at the last Masters. More on Lafer in the next posting.

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