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The IMLAUER Hotel Schloss Pichlarn has been awarded a toque by Gault & Millau. Having only been with the IMLAUER Group since 2021, the team led by Executive Chef Gottfried Prall has delivered outstanding quality in the kitchen and service in a very short space of time.

We spoke to Executive Chef Gottfried Prall and learned lots of interesting facts about success, inspiration and the culinary arts at IMLAUER Hotel Schloss Pichlarn.

You have now been at the IMLAUER Hotel Schloss Pichlarn for 1 ½ years. What made you decide to accept the position here?

This is the third time I’ve been here. I was already chef de cuisine at Schloss Pichlarn from 2000 to 2003 and then again as head chef from 2005 to 2009. However, I then decided to continue on my path and worked in various companies.

Over the last few years, I have been in intensive discussions with Mrs. Wohlmuther, the director of Schloss Pichlarn, whom I have known since 2000, about whether I would like to come back. We then met for a chat WITH Mr. Imlauer and I liked him straight away.

Pichlarn Castle has always been close to my heart and it is something very special up here in the Enns Valley. I always felt very comfortable and the deciding factor was actually Mr. Imlauer, very personable and very competent.

Can you briefly tell us about your career and what experiences have been particularly important to you in your professional career?

I realized a long time ago that the apprenticeship period is actually very important. I believe that if you have a good apprenticeship and you really enjoy your job, then you realize in retrospect what you have really learned there. From the basics to sophisticated cuisine. That definitely leaves its mark on you.

I then went to a very large and beautiful seminar hotel, the Retter am Pöllerberg. This is now well known throughout Austria. From there I went to Michigan, America, for a year. That was the highlight of my career. There I worked in a large Crown Plaza Hotel with around 600 rooms, 1000 employees and 9 restaurants. I was there in a Sky Restaurant with about 100 seats and nine employees in the kitchen. They cooked French cuisine and it was very instructive for me because they had products that you don’t find here, e.g. scallops, lobster etc. in first-class quality. Back then I had a chef who had spent 6 years in France himself and who taught me the high level of French cuisine. It was a very tough year, but a very good one, and it had an incredible impact on me.

What inspires you?

I like Austrian and Italian cuisine. I deliberately say Italian and not Mediterranean. I actually make 50% Austrian, 30% Italian and the remaining 20% Mediterranean. Mediterranean is an umbrella term that includes France as well as Croatia, Greece and more. This term should be used with caution.

I’ve traveled to Italy a lot and find the cuisine fascinating because they do so much with so few ingredients. We always include six or seven components. In Italy they say a maximum of three or four components. It’s about the essentials. I think that’s great and I’m still holding on to it.

Was it your goal right from the start to achieve a toque here at the IMLAUER Hotel Schloss Pichlarn?

Yes. Mr. Imlauer has asked for a hood. We set ourselves apart by cooking finer or more upmarket dishes, which is perfect for a 5-star hotel. 2-3 hoods then become more difficult. It’s important to remember that we don’t just have one restaurant. We have a large hotel and also have to serve the golf course in summer. We have the Vital Lounge in the wellness area, the bar, room service, we offer half board and à la carte. Everything has to be brought down to a common denominator. The more toques you have, the more you have to take care of the à la carte restaurant and we are not designed for that. We want to offer all our guests fine cuisine with a twist – we have achieved this very well with the toque from Gault & Millau.

Is this your first hood?

I’ve only ever worked in toque-awarded restaurants and this toque is the second one I’ve won myself. Both hoods were available in Pichlarn. I got my first toque in 2008/09 as head chef in Pichlarn. We always signed up back then and it’s not so easy to get a hood straight away. That took 2-3 years back then.

Now I’ve been back for 1 ½ years and didn’t really expect to get a hood again so quickly. But we are very happy about it and the whole team is also very happy. For us, this is always a confirmation that we are on the right track. We are now working on keeping the hood in the future.

Gottfried Prall Küchenchef Imlauer Hotel Schloss Pichlarn

To be able to run a kitchen at this high level, you need a very good team. What do you particularly value in your team?

We have a brigade of up to 24 people in summer. That is no small amount. In winter, we have around 20 employees in the kitchen because the golf course is not open. The most important thing is still that there is harmony and balance between the employees. I take a very close look at the character of new employees who want to join us. That is very important to me. Everyone must be able to integrate into the team from a human perspective. If I sense at the interview that this won’t work, then I won’t take the person. I always prefer to take a “beginner”, I learn something from them, they integrate into the team and have fun. When everything comes together, the result is success with a hood. I have a team like that and I’m very proud of it. I hope that this will continue to be the case.

We are currently full and have to turn down applicants. At the moment, it’s a really good sign if you can say that you can’t take anyone in at the moment. As you can see, we are on the right track.

2024-06-25T15:19:40+02:00March 5th, 2024|
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