Marinated kale with couscous, carrots, roast beef from Andelsbuch with marinated white and red cabbage, homemade gnocchi with pumpkin and beetroot… What would Hildegard von Bingen (1098- 1179) make of these modern interpretations of her natural diet? She’d be excited to taste them of course! After all, the teachings and organic diet of this revered mystic are the hallmarks of the “Schwanen” organic hotel in Bizau.
Hildegard and organic are the foundation of the “Schwanen” hotel’s menu of regional superfoods and have transformed the organic hotel into a gourmet hotspot in the Bregenzerwald. Under Senior Chef Antonia Moosbrugger, modern, refined cuisine was already a well established component of the “Schwanen” cooking philosophy, which was influenced by Hildegard. Moosbrugger was also the first in the Bregenzerwald to offer a surprise menu: Each guest was presented with something different for each course, sometimes resulting in dozens of different dishes for a single group of guests. This practice earned the Moosbrugger’s the nickname “The Wild Ladies.”
Since the return of her son Emanuel and under the influence of his international experience, the hotel’s kitchen is now experiencing its latest heyday under chef Michael Webendorfer. The likeable Upper Austrian moved to the Bregenzerwald eight years ago. As a hungry young chef eager to learn, his arrival was opportune for the kitchen team and he received training at all stations. Several years followed in the award-winning kitchen of the Falstaff Casino Restaurant in Bregenz under chef Gernot Bischofberger, until Emanuel Moosbrugger brought him back to Bizau as head chef. During his time as an apprentice at the “Schwanen,” he met and fell in love with his wife Reka and settled down. “When as a 25-year-old you get the chance for such a position, you have to seize the opportunity,” he says. This is especially true as he is assisted by Sous-chef Franziska Hiller, a gifted chef who has been part of the “Schwanen” team for over 25 years. Her experience and that of Senior Chef Antonia are still needed when it comes to Hildegard’s rather restrictive technical and natural methods. According to Hildegard’s theories, a variety of foods including spelt, fennel, apples, galangal, beetroot, chickpeas, game, lamb and riverine brown trout are considered essential. Meanwhile, ingredients like strawberries, leek, cucumbers, sausages or white wheat flour are taboo.