High culture meets delectation: It is all too tempting to equate the August menu in Hangar-7 with the world-renowned Salzburg Festival. Because for four summery weeks, in which Restaurant Ikarus has no guest chef for a change but the Ikarus Team in the flesh will instead be taking on the key role: only the performances on the stages of the festival city are sure to be as exciting, diverse and international as the dishes on the plates.
Martin Klein, however, holds precious little for simple comparisons such as this. Frivolity is not his thing at all, and this is also reflected in his work as Executive Chef at Restaurant Ikarus. "The fact that we are presenting our menu at festival time is very nice of course. But our aim as the Ikarus Team is not merely to provide guests with a few pleasant hours on the fringes of the festival. We want them to be enthusiastic about our cooking and then leave with the memory of an unforgettable culinary experience."
The dishes are also anything but frivolous. Martin Klein and his team have included inspiration from over ten years of collaboration with top chefs from around the world in their creation - and add their own philosophy to them, which the Executive Chef summarises briefly and succinctly: "In a product-aware and truthful manner."
Translated to the menu, this means that the Ikarus Team focuses on the essence of flavour in 16 individual culinary creations. The number of dishes is consciously kept low so that the key ingredients do not distract from the actual taste experience. It would also then be a great shame to use exclusively fresh, seasonal ingredients from the respective countries of origin. This ranges from a delicate crab gazpacho shot on the refined combination of eel with melon, chanterelle mushrooms and feta granita up to the finale: a Petit-Suisse with cucumber, pumpkin seeds and vanilla.
The Ikarus Team has also come up with an exclusive addition to this year's festival menu. Each dish is finished with two elements that are found in every kitchen in the world and can therefore be called essential on good conscience: vinegar and oil. These very versatile culinary companions are surprisingly and exceptionally staged by the chefs of the Ikarus Team never as a main component, but always as defining taste.
Martin Klein is therefore celebrating a very special first in August 2014. It is his first festival menu as Executive Chef – and he will benefit from many years of experience in and with the Restaurant Ikarus because the Alsace native was at the opening of Hangar-7 as part of the initial team for the restaurant in 2003. As a chef, he was responsible for the creative culinary masterpieces from the outset.
After his education at the Hotel Management School in Strasbourg, Klein deepened his knowledge and skills during the gastronomic stages in southern France, Switzerland, Karlsruhe, Stuttgart and Munich. In 2002, he cooked up his first star at the Restaurant Marstall in Munich, thus making waves in the culinary world. After the first subsequent move to Salzburg, Klein ended up on the exclusive private island of Laucala in the middle of the South Pacific in 2012, where he conjured up culinary delights for the discerning guests as Executive Chef. The holiday paradise did not keep him for too long, because when he received an offer to return to Hangar-7 as Executive Chef from the beginning of 2014, he did not hesitate: "You only get the chance to work as the head of a unique team on perhaps the most interesting culinary concept in the world once in a lifetime."
For eleven months of the year, Restaurant Ikarus sets the stage for top international chefs who present themselves as guest chefs to a special audience - and this has been the case for eleven years now. To get to know the top chefs and for Restaurant Ikarus to obtain them, Martin Klein now travels around the world. Whether organising, implementing, planning or logistics - Klein holds everything together and implements the most varied culinary skills of the guest chefs.
Close at hand he has a young, highly motivated, around 50-strong cooking and service team, without which the success of the guest chef concept Hangar-7, a challenge for all involved, would be impossible. Joining Martin Klein in a management role, are two kitchen chefs Jörg Bruch and Tommy Dananic, Head Patissier Dominik Fitz,
Service Chef Matthias Berger and Restaurant Manager Florian Kempinger.
They all share the irrepressible passion to offer guests a special culinary experience. You can be convinced up close and personally that this is not an empty phrase in August, when the Ikarus Team takes centre stage for a month.
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Images © Helge Kirchberger / Red Bull Hangar-7