Lär känna kökschef Mario Hellmayr
Inför vintern 2023–24 har vi intervjuat Mario Hellmayr, kökschef på Hotel Salzburger Hof i Bad Gastein. Mario har varit kökschef här i flera år, men resan började redan i femtonårsåldern som lärling i hotellets kök. Vi har pratat med Mario om den kreativa processen bakom vinterns menyer, vad som motiverar honom och vad han själv alltid har hemma i kylskåpet.
Mario – tell us about your background. How did you become a chef at Hotel Salzburger Hof?
I started cooking with my mom at a young age. At first for the family but then for birthdays and parties as well. I really enjoyed it, and my mom's friends would always tell me I should become a chef. When I turned fifteen, I got the chance to be a culinary apprentice at Hotel Salzburger Hof.
Before becoming the head chef, I was sous chef for a couple of years, and during these times I often got invited to work at other restaurants, both in Austria and in Sweden. In Sweden I got invited by Ulf Wagner to his fantastic restaurant Sjömagasinet, and Fredrik Eriksson welcomed me to his Långbro Värdshus. These experiences have been helpful in my current role as Head Chef at Salzburger Hof. The key to a successful restaurant is good teamwork, and to make everyone feel valued and appreciated, no matter what position they have.
When creating the menus, what does the creative process behind it look like?
It is a special process since we want to be innovative and offer many different flavors during the week, we serve the same guests for seven nights in a row. The menu depends on several things, like what ingredients are in season and what the guests expect. Right now, we've got a lot of mushrooms growing in the forests, so we're using lots of chanterelles and porcini. Later, when pumpkins and cabbage are in season, we'll use more of that. The menu changes throughout the week, but I try to mix what's in season with new and interesting flavors. We get ideas from all sorts of cuisines – Italian, Asian, Swedish, the list goes on. Our goal is to make a balanced mix that keeps things exciting throughout the week.
What is your favorite ingredient, what do you always have at home?
My fridge must-haves are butter, onions, and chives. With these three, I can easily create tasty soups or sauces to go with any meat or fish. They're like magic ingredients that make every meal better.
What is it like working alongside Fredrik Eriksson? What are the differences and similarities between your cuisines and how you work in the kitchen?
We are a great team and understand each other. I was just fifteen years old the first time I met him! Since then, we have worked together countless times. Working with Fredrik, along with the other Swedish top chefs who have been at Salzburger Hof, has been an important part of finding the balance between the Austrian and Swedish cuisines.
Now I look forward for the winter season to start and welcoming all our guests. But before that, I am excited to return to Långbro Värdshus in October, to cook some classical Austrian dishes together with Fredrik and his team there. We will serve schnitzel and perhaps some kaiserschmarrn, and a lot of other nice food. I will of course bring my family and I can’t wait to show them Sweden again and to eat my absolute favorite Swedish meal; Toast Skagen!