An interview with our chef Alexander Tiebel
Perfect is just about good enough
Chef Alexander Tiegel and his team have been cooking up a storm in our hotel kitchen since September 2018. We had a chat with him about all things homemade and his occasionally offbeat approach.
Alexander, you’re not a local but you just about talk like one.
Alexander Tiebel: Thanks for the compliment! I was born in Thuringia and have seen quite a bit of the world but after so many years in the Tyrol I should hope that even as a guy from Eastern Germany I’m getting to grips with the Zillertaler dialect.
You’ve worked in various hotels and restaurants and have gathered many years of experience in top establishments. You ran your own restaurant in Mayrhofen for 15 years and spent some time in the States. What has shaped you the most?
Alexander Tiebel: Only possible answer: My time in Palm Beach, Florida! It was amazing to cook such a vast variety of dishes from around the world. Among other things, I had the privilege to learn from a real sushi master. We would put on themed gourmet menus and I’d spoil our diners with delicious sushi.
You’re also a master at dishing up an excellent steak and you’ve come up with a very tasty offer.
Alexander Tiebel: There is nothing like a juicy piece of meat! I love steaks! As part of our evening menu and for a very modest extra charge, we now offer guests the option of a steak done just as they like instead of the main course, whether it’s T-bone, sirloin, ribeye or filet.
Where do you buy your meat?
Alexander Tiebel: Exclusively from the Tyrol! Top quality meat is my first priority and to improve it even further, it’s hung and matured at our village butcher. Not long ago, I even managed to buy an entire Kobe beast from a Zillertal farmer. It’s still alive, happily munching grass on the meadow...
...and presumably getting looked after very well so the quality of the meat should be outstanding.
Alexander Tiebel: Exactly. Kobe beef is considered one of the best in the world. It is heavily marbled and simply unsurpassed in terms of tenderness and taste. As a trained butcher, I will personally see to making the most of the entire beast. Unlike many other chefs, I don’t just use selected cuts. I am a firm supporter of the nose to tail approach. You’d be amazed at how tasty cheaper cuts of meat can be.
What’s most important in your cooking?
Alexander Tiebel: Fresh ingredients, locally sourced, few convenience products. That's why I also prefer to make my own pasta or ravioli. And salads. Not your bog standard varieties though. I like weird and wonderful salad creations. I draw inspiration from many sources but picked up some particularly funky salad ideas in the States.
You’re also pretty good at homemade jams and chutneys.
Alexander Tiebel: I put my heart and soul into all my cooking. And homemade food will always taste better. If a local pops in with fresh blueberries, I’m only too happy to turn them into delicious jam. This season’s offerings already include strawberries, apricots and plums - perfect for our breakfast jam selection.
Your passion for food obviously goes beyond skilful preparation. Hotel guests have positively rhapsodized about the beauty and detail of your buffet presentation.
Alexander Tiebel: To be honest, I actually might be suffering from a mild case of creative madness. I picked up lots of tricks about the perfect layout of buffets and brunches in the States. Now I am my own harshest critic and if it ain’t perfect, I ain’t happy with myself. A feast for the taste buds must be a feast for the eyes as well.
A perfectionist through and through then....
Alexander Tiebel:With me it’s all or nothing! I want to serve the best possible dish to every guest every time. I like honest dishes with no frills, but they have to be flawless. Buonissimo, as the Italians say.
Name: Alexander Tiebel
Family: Franz, 12 years old
Zillertaler resident: on and off since 1993
Career milestones (amongst others): Hotel Alpenblick (1 toque), Sigwarts Tiroler Weinstube (2 toques), Liebes Rot-Flüh, St. Antoner Hof, The Breakers, Palm Beach
Hobbies: good food, cycle racing, hiking, mountaineering, snowboarding
Favourite food: Italian - honest cooking based on outstanding ingredients
Favourite dish: flat dumpling soup (a regular at the weekly farmer’s style buffet)
The perfect steak: Rare – I want to hear it moo!