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Albin Widmann is Chef at the Seehotel Ambach, the cult lakeside refuge on Caldaro Lake's shores in South Tyrol. Dramatic nature, funky interiors, and an architectural landmark are also a famed bolthole for good food connoisseurs.
Since his childhood years, food has captivated Albin Widmann, initially inspired by his early years at the stove alongside his mama and grandma. Later, his mentor, the 3-star chef Heinz Winkler at Tantri in Munich and his pitstop at the Hotel Ritz in Paris, kicked off his culinary adventures.
With the Mediterranean and the doorstep, the Italian Alps as his gathering grounds, Chef Widmann's cuisine is a diverse affair dipping into Nonna's classics, regional heroes of South Tyrol as well foraging ingredients from the Alps to the Med.
Organic food supply is a crucial prerequisite for Chef Widmann "when you work so close to nature, the farmers and the lands, you can't help but find it an essential contribution to fostering organic food production".
The Seehotel has allocated space for their kitchen gardens with fruit orchards and herbery.
Albin likes to creatively play when it comes to cooking and preservation methods, ensuring that limited crops can be used throughout the year and new innovative dishes using produce from his own smokehouse.
A regular forager in the surrounding forests, he is never short of new inspiration "I am happiest in the garden and in nature." explains Albin, whose second passion is architecture, perhaps that best explains why he feels right at home at the Seehotel, a 1970's legend by local architect Othmar Barth.
"I try and research dishes back to their original roots, look at the ingredients, textures and tastes, and then I reframe the dishes into a new context - so the essence of the past is present, just in a lighter, more delicate approach. I think our diners love to taste the flavours of their childhood in an unexpected way; it is always a treat".
"When the setting is so striking, it is important to allow your food not only to harmonise but to sing and bring the lake, mountains and design to the narrative of my plates".
Guided by the seasons, Chef Widmann delivers timely dishes that have poeple flocking to enjoy - limited editions like his White Asparagus of Terlano. A la Carte and tasting menues escort the diner through the regions, seasons and creativity. Favourites are his:
Filetto di manzo biologico con salsa olandese all’olio d’oliva, pomodori al forno, anelli di cipolla fritti e verdurine, or the 'Grigliata mista di pesce con verdure (coda di rospo, branzino, rombo, capesante, scampo)' and fresh pasta: 'Tortelli ripieni di caprino fresco, tartufo e miele di gemme d’abete'. Special notes of Chef Widmann escapes to the plates like wild Sorrel, rose blossom, even the reeds from the lake.
Dining here is a special treat for the hotel guests and locals alike; it is the combo of setting and food that reminds us of how good life can be, if only you know where.