Chef's Portrait - Patrick Mahler
Has been working as Chef de Cuisine at the fine dining restaurant «focus ATELIER »since spring 2018. Already in February 2019, the renowned Michelin Guide awarded his delicate and high-contrast cuisine with two of the coveted stars.
Let’s start by addressing a stereotype. Are chefs really all night owls who only surface at around midday?
I’m sorry to have to disappoint you… Even if I don’t get to bed until two in the morning, I’m generally up before eight. I’m a bit of a fitness fanatic and I like to hit the gym bright and early so I’m energised for the day ahead.
Do you think top athletes and top chefs are similar in any way?
I can definitely see the similarities here too. Ambition, stamina, drive and passion are essential. Luckily, ambitious young chefs don’t have to slave away to quite the extent they used to. There is some level of work-life balance these days.
Which sports do you like best?
I used to swim and play badminton a lot. In fact, I even made it onto the national badminton team. Unfortunately, it has been a long while since I even held a racket. And it’s not in my nature to just have the odd game here and there. For me, it’s all in or not at all. So I keep it simple and just head to the gym or go for a run.
Let’s get back to the kitchen… How would you describe each other’s cooking styles?
I can live with that description! When I think about Stefan’s food, the first thing that comes to mind is the incredibly intense flavours. Every bite is like a flavour train riding into your mouth. I would also say that he is passionate about using premium produce. He has a no-frills approach and focuses on getting the basics perfect. That’s what I’m looking for when I eat out.
And a few luxurious items on the menu?
Absolutely! I get really excited when I see wagyu beef, wild-caught turbot or Balfégo tuna on a menu.
Patrick, you cried when you were awarded two Michelin stars at once in 2019. What was going through your mind?
We had been through a challenging year. After Nenad Mlinarevic left, Focus needed more than just a new head chef. The whole concept needed updating too. All of the strain and tension just disappeared at the Michelin ceremony. And the fact that the stars were so unexpected made the occasion all the more momentous.
But no tears?
Definitely! We were surrounded by lots of our friends, supporters and idols. That’s bound to have an effect on you.
If you could make one wish on behalf of the hospitality sector, what would it be?
That’s easy! I would wish for service culture to live on forever. It is getting more and more difficult to find passionate service staff because they just don’t get anywhere near the same level of respect and appreciation that we get as chefs.
Words Alex Kuehn
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