At Herxheim-Hayna in the Palatinate, Karl-Emil Kuntz and his family have established an exclusive haven for discerning diners.
Karl-Emil Kuntz is a phenomenon – besides spending many hours at the stove in his two restaurants at the hotel his family has owned for generations, he has a personal best marathon time of 2 hours 47 minutes. Trained as a chef and confectioner, he took over the reins in Hayna in 1984 after several years of learning the ins and outs of classic cuisine under Eckart Witzigmann and Hans Stucki in Basel. These foundations are still in evidence today. Kuntz works with extreme precision, uses the best produce and never balks at a technical challenge – resulting in fine, classic, French-inspired cuisine. He has also gradually integrated regional produce into his repertoire, with fresh herbs in particular playing a starring role in his dishes, for example his bold hot smoked brook trout with potato and cucumber salad, tarragon tabbouleh and coriander mayonnaise, in which he uses little salt and relies on thoughtful herb accents instead.
Kuntz still serves his sophisticated goose liver or scallop variations, of course, but now he tends to present them in a light, contemporary form. In the last two years, he has also pared his dishes to the essentials. "Every mouthful must be delicious" he says. He sees his art as creating instantaneous taste sensations, which is certainly true of his ravioli of veal cheek with parsley purée, glazed apple and onion pieces and truffle foam – melt in the mouth or 'schlutzig' as they say in the Palatinate. Kuntz's cuisine is like the maestro himself – authentic, honest and with a certain Palatinate finesse.
© Prof. Dr. Ingo Scheuermann
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