Grand Chef Relais & Châteaux Johann Lafer has been a household name in Germany ever since Lafer, Lichter, Lecker! and Die Küchenschlacht television shows propelled him to a media star. However, the cameras could not separate Johann from his philosophy: the very highest demands in terms of quality and the search for the most noble of products, two qualities that he cultivates within this majestic castle. “My inspiration stems from the product. I only buy products when I can trace their origins, from production to my kitchen.” Johann Lafer, an equally gifted patissier, attributes the same importance to a modern interpretation of the Sachertorte as he does to the creative trilogy of beef from Styrian high mountain pastures.
After training in Graz, Chef Lafer went to Berlin, and then to Josef Viehauser at Hamburg-based Le Canard. He worked with the likes of Dieter, Jörg Müller, and Eckart Witzigmann. After a stopover with Gaston Lenotre in Paris, an introduction to the wonderful world of patisserie, Johann applied for his first job as executive chef – with Silvia Buchholz-Lafer whom he later married.
For 11 years he worked as executive chef and later owner of the Restaurant Le Val d´Or in Guldental, and later because chef owner of the Stromburg.
- 1 Michelin Star
- 15 Gault Millau Points
What was your most moving culinary experience?
My most positive experience was when my 14-year-old daughter served me a perfectly prepared dessert from my first cookery book. My worst experience: during an invitation in China I had the “honour” of discovering the eye of a sheep in my soup. It took a great deal of inner persuasion before I managed to swallow it whole, so as not to appear impolite. For days after, I had the feeling that something was looking at me from the inside.
The most amusing kitchen incident you ever witnessed?
A guest informed us that he planned to propose to his sweetheart and so he asked us to hide a very valuable engagement ring in a dessert. To his clearly visible horror, his fiancée swallowed the tartlet, together with the ring, in one. The two did marry later at our hotel but with a brand new ring.
Your best piece of advice for amateur chefs?
Amateur chefs love to cook and to conjure up culinary delights for their friends. However, as an amateur chef normally doesn’t have a large brigade behind him, good timing and organisation are all the more important.
You shouldn’t overdo it on any one occasion, but invite friends around regularly. It’s best to try the dishes out beforehand, to always choose high quality products and to prepare them lovingly and carefully.
D-55442 Stromberg (Rheinland-Pfalz)
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