FOURty Seconds with Harald Wohlfahrt

16 Oct 2015
3 min read
At the Traube Tonbach, one of Germany’s finest hotels, Harald brings together a range of taste experiences from German classics to modern French in an unparalleled culinary vision. FOUR speaks to Harald about what inspires his individual style of cooking and which restaurant he would most like to eat in…

What are your earliest memories of being interested in food?

Joyful memoires of my childhood as my grandparents used to own farmland so I have been in touch with fresh, unprocessed food from very early in my life.

What would you say has inspired your cooking the most?

There was not just one thing that stick out. Of course, first of all I learned the basics of good cuisine during my training as a chef, followed by experiences in different work places and the knowledge of great chefs like Eckart Witzigmann and Alain Chapel. But with the time, there was this rising urge to do something unique by myself. I wanted to create my own dishes and started to question the things I have learned. That is how I developed my individual style of cooking.

Describe how you see your own culinary style and how it has evolved over the years…

To describe ones own style is always tricky. I feel more comfortable with guests’ description of my culinary style and am quite sure that for most of them ‘Schwarzwaldstube’ stands for a place where finest ingredients meet craftwork and artistic elements. My culinary style was shaped and refined throughout my whole career but its roots are clearly French-based. I got influenced by the grand classic cuisine when I started cooking in the 1970’s but I always focussed on my own talents and avoided distraction by other chefs or general trends. Moreover, I was lucky to find such an inspirational surrounding here in the Black Forest and benefited from the family-leaded hotel company which is my second home since more than 35 years now. Here, I found the freedom and support to do my own thing and still can follow my own inspirations. All this has leaded to the style of kitchen we offer to our guests from all over world today.

Tell us about your work at Traube Tonbach…

Nestled in a forest of fir trees, Traube Tonbach is located in one of Europe‘s most stunning and pristine landscapes – the Black Forest. The hotel itself is not only just a beautiful place to relax, but also a perfect starting point to explore the surrunding nature. Moreover, Traube Tonbach is one of the oldest family owned hotels in Germany with the original “Traube” dating back to 1789. It is family operated ever since, but has grown from a small historic place for forest workers to one of Germany’s leading luxury resorts with more than 150 guestrooms and 300 employees. Needless to say, that also the culinary concept within the hotel’s four different outlets is given constant attention. At Schwarzwaldstube we offer a contemporary, but clearly French-based cuisine, which is awarded with three Michelin stars since 23 years as well as 19,5 Gault Millau points. My job is to share the culinary passion behind that with our guest on a daily base. So, they can expect an amazing package: Outstanding culinary pleasure surrounded by the terrific flair of legendary Black Forest and with very sincere hosts.

What can guests expect at Schwarzwaldstube?

From welcoming the guests to their farewell: I want my guests to join me on an unforgettable culinary trip that hopefully stays in their mind for a long time.

How do you decide on the menu?

Nature decides on our menu – we just use every season’s best products, throw in all our creativity and focus on the taste. Our two tasting menus change very 4 weeks course-wise and besides we always offer a vegetarian menu as well.

What are your most indispensable ingredients?

Precious local ingredients which grow in the forest around us just outside hotel Traube Tonbach. Here we find wild berries, herbs and delicate game as well as various mushrooms like ceps and chanterelles.

What would you say has been the most memorable moment in your culinary career so far?

There were many great moments within the last 35 years – from our early beginnings when I started to work as a very young chef at the newly opened Schwarzwaldstube in 1976 (back then one of the first gourmet restaurants in all over Germany) – to 1992 when Schwarzwaldstube was awarded with 3 stars by the guide Michelin. Today, that’s 23 years ago and still it definitely has been one of the most touching moments for me. But, of course, we kept on improving and refining our cuisine day by day, year by year – so we will see what’s next!

What’s next for you?

The journey is the destination – and that has been proved in the past several times. Schwarzwaldstube is an on-going story and the Black Forest has more or less always high season – so we do our best to please and surprise our guests every single day. And we are very busy with doing so…

What restaurant is currently at the top of your list to dine at?

There are many great places to eat in the world and there is always to less time, but I do try to dine especially at restaurants from chefs that I have guided and trained during the past. Their development gives me pleasure and their success makes me proud. Beside that, one of the most interesting ones for me is “Chef’s Table“ in Brooklyn by head chef Cesar Ramirez.

Find out more about Harald