Nico Hirschfeld from North Germany arrived in Bezau right around the time that the hotel first opened in June of 2019. Since that time, he has been instrumental in the planning of the hotel’s lush vegetable garden. Every October, he and two gardeners would draw up a twelve-month plan detailing which vegetables should be available and when. Like a well-oiled machine, these days, gardener, cook and garden are in sync. But when they were first starting out, the three had to endure all the pitfalls common amongst amateur gardeners… i.e. what to do with monster zucchinis and an avalanche of lettuce? “By now, we’ve managed to adjust the vegetable varieties and quantities to meet my needs in the kitchen.” In addition, part of the wine cellar was converted into a freezer room, so that between November and April guests can enjoy their summer favourites in addition to pickled and hardy vegetable varieties.
The garden is on the menu
The Hotel Post in Bezau, which has been growing its own food since 2019 according to the principle of SOLAWI community-supported agriculture, needs a chef who loves food and appreciates the large vegetable field in front of the hotel.
A deliberate and determined personality, Nico Hirschfeld was born in 1981. But he only discovered cooking as an adult. At the age of 25, he began an apprenticeship as a chef at the Schlossrestaurant Zentgraf in Gifhorn near his hometown of Wolfsburg. It was love at first cook. “Working in the kitchen, juggling a lot of things at the same time, I really enjoyed that kind of stress!” For seven years, he cooked at award-winning restaurants on the North Sea islands of Langeoog and Sylt, including a stint as a sous chef at Landhaus Stricker on Sylt. Today, Hirschfeld particularly appreciates the way things are run at the Hotel Post in Bezau, where he has been head chef since 2019. “Here, our garden determines what’s next on the menu. I can ask myself ‘What do I have available in the coming two weeks?’ What ingredients can I work into the menu?” Concentrating on just a few, high-quality products that we grow ourselves eliminates two major problems in the catering industry: transport routes and food waste. “Our patrons enjoy vegetables straight from our garden. A smaller selection and an improved ability to plan means that a lot less food has to be thrown away.” Excellent ingredients must also be prepared with care: Nico Hirschfeld has the following tips on how to blanch vegetables so that all the flavours and vital nutrients are retained after cooking.
Issue: Bregenzerwald Travel Magazine – Summer 2022
Recipe by Nico Hirschfeld: How to properly blanch vegetables
• Cut vegetables as desired.
• Cook in salted water until ready.
• Using a colander, transfer the vegetables to a baking sheet with a dish towel.
• Let the vegetables steam, preferably under a heat lamp or in the oven. This dehydrates the vegetables, so to speak.
• Then put the vegetables in a bowl and add some quality virgin olive oil and salt or spices to taste.
• Arrange on the plate - and serve!