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10 Years of Koch.Campus: Austria's Culinary Think-Tank - more dynamic than ever

by Bettina Bäck

Ten years ago, seven chefs, two farmers and a thoroughbred culinary expert came together – a small circle, with a big vision. What began as a friendly exchange, is now a unique bridge between kitchen and field. Koch.Campus is often dubbed the "taskforce of good taste" because the now 71-member association tirelessly turns the quality screws of Austrian cuisine, melds the expertise of farmers and the experience of chefs, raises thorny industry issues and seeks to answer questions relevant to the future. 

How it all began

Spring 2013 in the magnificent garden of Landhaus Bacher. Chef Thomas Dorfer and gastro expert Klaus Buttenhauser discussed how they were inspired by food events in neighbouring countries but expressed disappointment with the low perception of Austrian cuisine abroad. They were hungry for exchange with like-minded people and alarmed by a looming seed regulation. So, what to do? The two decided the time was ripe to take the future of Austrian cuisine into their own hands! 

Birth of Koch.Campus

Buttenhauser and Dorfer picked up the phone and gathered the top Austrian culinary experts: Heinz Reitbauer, Josef Floh, Erich Stekovics, Richard Rauch, Thorsten Probost and Andreas Senn at Andreas Döllerer in Golling in the state of Salzburg. Together they delved into the subject of fermentation, exchanged ideas about extraordinary food pairings and the nose-to-tail concept, and forged the campaign "One Unit for Diversity" as a countermovement to the looming seed ordinance, which endangered the domestic diversity of fruit, vegetables and other plant varieties.

“This was the birth of Koch.Campus,“ reports Thomas Dorfer, a co-initiator of Koch.Campus. He continues: "It fills me with great joy that Koch.Campus has developed into a beacon for the industry in Austria and a trend-setting authority throughout Europe".  

Koch.Campus today

This pioneering spirit still drives the group to face relevant issues and challenges together in 2023. A core tenet since very beginning has been the strong cooperation between gastronomy and agriculture. They conduct research together, learn from each other and deliver valuable results for producers, chefs and consumers.

The think-tank meets three to four times a year to conduct basic culinary research, critically question current issues and gain new insights. 

Thomas Dorfer during the quality check
© Helge Kirchberger

A tasting of different lamb and hogget showed that old sheep breeds, which are often threatened with extinction, produce the best meat when kept in a species-appropriate manner on alpine pastures. This insight also benefits alpine pasture farming.

Beef tasting
© Jürgen Schmücking

At a beef tasting, the meat of the oldest animal tasted best. This meat is normally only used for dog food by the industry. The result shows how wasteful we are with our resources. 

Offal comparison
© Helge Kirchberger

The workshop on offal, in which Heinz Reitbauer combined traditional knowledge of Viennese offal cuisine with new preparation ideas in a contemporary way, took a similar line.

Carrot study
© Helge Kirchberger

Carrots of the same variety but grown on different soils taste completely different and are suitable for different preparation methods. Terroir for vegetables will soon be researched in more detail and the question of what constitutes good soil will be discussed.

Veal on the test stand
© Jörg Lehmann

Solutions for the devastating domestic and export figures for calf and veal were presented in terms of animal welfare and domestic agriculture. The result of the joint taste test left no doubt. The best meat was provided by a male calf of a dairy breed (!) from a local mountain pasture farm. 

Robert Buchberger & Heinz Reitbauer
© Helge Kirchberger

Pig farmers whose quality and animal welfare standards well exceed legal requirements, but who have difficulty meeting the market's price requirements and therefore selling their pork, were networked with chefs who are looking for precisely this kind of quality meat. 

Apple tasting at Pogusch
© Anna Stöcher

Old apple varieties were tasted and categorised for the best preparation method for each. In the blind comparison, they consistently showed a far more exciting taste profile than conventional varieties from the supermarket. 

Mushroom comparison
© Anna Stöcher

A good 30 varieties of local mushrooms were processed into stock and evaluated. These stocks provided the basis for vegan soups and sauces. 

These are just a few of the many topics that Koch.Campus has worked on over the years in sophisticated workshops.

The future

Koch.Campus considers dealing with primary products to be essential, but the group sees its tasks as much more far-reaching.

“Whoever is a member of Koch.Campus assumes responsibility far beyond their own business", explains Koch.Campus deputy chairman Andreas Döllerer, adding: "We want to exert a positive influence on our professional groups, respective regions, suppliers, guests and above all the next generation". 

Koch.Campus stands for:

  • Cooperation between cuisine & agriculture 

  • Positioning occupations in gastronomy and agriculture as a young, attractive life and work models

  • Anchoring Austria on map as a culinary travel destination 

  • Seasonal, regional and organic products and the preservation of the country's long culinary tradition

  • Knowledge transfer – not only within Koch.Campus, to the individual member companies and colleagues in the industry but also to guests, institutions and the political sphere

  • Driving research and innovation

Koch.Campus is growing!

New companies are joining Koch.Campus all the time.

"The most important thing is that you produce products of the highest quality, that you want to network and learn and that you are willing to commit yourself in the spirit of Koch.Campus and its goals and tasks," explains Hans Reisetbauer, the chairman of Koch.Campus.

"I have been observing the activities of the Koch.Campus for years and am in complete agreement with its mission. It is so enriching to be able to exchange ideas with committed members and an honour to be actively involved," says Neo-Koch.Campus member Michael Kerschbaumer from Kaslab'n cheese dairy in Carinthia.

Koch.Campuses 2023

June

Soil - Insights into Terroir & Soul

Hosts: Josef Floh & Bernhard Ott

September

Vegetables from Different Altitudes

Hosts: Joschi Walch & Simon Vetter 

October

Raw Milk

Hosts: Fritz Nindler & Michael Kerschbaumer

Koch.Campuses in recent years

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Koch.Campus members:

1)      Brodnjak Robert – Krautwerk (Lower Austria)

2)      Bucar Florian - Biohotel Daberer GmbH (Carinthia)

3)      Buchberger Robert – Fleischerei Buchberger (Styria)

4)      Buttenhauser Klaus – Tischgesellschaft (Vienna)

5)      Cis André – Panoramahotel Cis (T)

6)      Csencsits Jürgen – Gasthaus Csencsits (Bgld)

7)      Döllerer Andreas – Döllerer (S)

8)      Dorfer Thomas – Landhaus Bacher (Lower Austria)

9)      Fankhauser Peter – GuatzEssen (T)

10)   Fink Hans Peter – Gasthaus Haberl/ Fink Delicatessen (Styria)

11)   Flammer Dominik – Public History (CH)

12)   Floh Josef – Gastwirtschaft Floh (Lower Austria)

13)   Fuchs Gerhard – Die Weinbank (Styria)

14)   Gesellmann Albert – Weingut Gesellmann (Bgld)

15)   Geisler Stefan - Schulhaus Tirol (T)

16)   Göttfried Christian – Göttfrieds (Upper Austria)

17)   Grabmer Clemens – Restaurant Waldschänke (Upper Austria)

18)   Grabner Manuel – Restaurant Holzpoldl (Upper Austria)

19)   Gugumuck Andreas – Wiener Schneckenmanufaktur (Vienna)

20)   Hackl Norbert – Biohof Labonca (Styria)

21)   Heinrich Gernot –Gernot and Heike Heinrich Winery (Bgld)

22)   Herbst Andreas – Dahoam (S)

23)   Hofer Thomas – Bergergut (Upper Austria)

24)   Höllerschmid Manfred – Fleischwaren Höllerschmid (Lower Austria)

25)   Ivic Paul – Tian (Vienna)

26)   Jans Renate & Philipp – Figerhof (T)

27)   Kajtna Bernd – Arche Noah (Lower Austria)

28)   Kerschbaumer Michael - Kaslabn (Nockberge) (Carinthia)

29)   Kienbauer Lukas – Lukas‘ Restaurant (Upper Austria)

30)   Kolm Michael – Bärenhof Kolm (Lower Austria)

31)   Lastin Stefan - Gamskogelhütte (Carinthia)

32)   Leitgeb Armin – Le Treize (T)

33)   Leth Franz – Leth Winery (Lower Austria)

34)   Machreich, Uwe – Triad (Lower Austria)

35)   Moosbrugger Emanuel – Biohotel Schwanen (Vbg)

36)   Muhr Dorli – Dorli Muhr Winery (Lower Austria)

37)   Mühlmann Josef – Gannerhof (T)

38)   Müller Hannes – Genießerhotel Die Forelle (Carinthia)

39)   Nagl Lukas – Restaurant Bootshaus in Seehotel Das Traunsee (Upper Austria)

40)   Nindler Fritz & Granegger Kevin - Mountain Resort Feuerberg (Carinthia)

41)   Nuart Eva – Nuart Sheep's milk specialities (Carinthia)

42)   Ott Bernhard – Bernhard Ott Winery (Lower Austria)

43)   Parth Benjamin – Hotel Yscla (T)

44)   Pichler Lucas - F.X. Pichler Winery (Lower Austria)

45)   Pohorec Reinhard – Pohorec Sensory Experience (Vienna)

46)   Rachinger Philipp – Mühltalhof (Upper Austria)

47)   Rachinger Helmut – Fernruf 7 (Upper Austria)

48)   Rauch Richard – Geschwister Rauch (Styria)

49)   Redolfi Werner – Redolfi kitchen systems (Vienna)

50)   Reisetbauer Hans – Reisetbauer Qualitätsbrand (Upper Austria)

51)   Reitbauer Heinz – Steirereck (Vienna)

52)   Ressi Manuel – Bärenwirt (Carinthia)

53)   Riezler Jeremias – Biohotel Walserstuba (Vbg)

54)   Rützler Hanni – Future Food Studio (W)

55)   Schenk Wolfgang – Tax consultant (Vienna)

56)   Schöpf Tobias – Restaurant Fuxbau (Vbg)

57)   Schraml Klemens – Rau (Upper Austria)

58)   Senn Andreas – Senn’s Restaurant (S)

59)   Spindler Josef – Ölmühle Fandler (Styria)

60)   Steffner Josef – Mesnerhaus (S)

61)   Stekovics Priska – Stekovics (Bgld)

62)   Stekovics Erich – Stekovics (Bgld)

63)   Thurner Franziskus – Hotel at Weissensee (Carinthia)

64)   Vetter Simon – Vetterhof (Vbg)

65)   Vigne Jürgen – Restaurant Pfefferschiff (S)

66)   Walch Josef – Rote Wand (Vbg)

67)   Wallner Hubert – Gourmet Restaurant Huber Wallner (Carinthia)

68)   Weissgerber, Alain - Taubenkobel (Bgld)

69)   Wesonig Michael - Michis frische Fische (Styria)

70)   Winkler Vitus – Hotel Sonnhof (S)

71)   Zehentner Matthias – Tauernlamm (S)

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About Koch.Campus

The Koch.Campus association brings together more than 30 world-class chefs and roughly the same number of pioneering agricultural and commercial producers, hoteliers and food experts from around Austria. This task force for good taste, currently boasting 58 members, is led by Hans Reisetbauer and Andreas Döllerer. The association promotes greater exchange of knowledge and experience between chefs and producers and joint exploration and development of regional primary products. Secondary goals include encouraging contemporary interpretations of Austrian cuisine and better positioning of domestic Austrian primary products to compete on international markets. Through expert workshops, tastings, lectures, excursions and discussions, members of Koch.Campus enter into dialogue with domestic primary product producers and evaluate their quality potential based on various types and breeds, cultivation and captivity models, age and maturation levels and preparation methods.

Koch.Campus
Sieveringer Straße 27
1190 Vienna

Koch.Campus

Koch.Campus Gruppenfoto
Bettina Bäck von Wine+Partners
Bettina Bäck
Senior Project Manager

Bettina has been with Wine+Partners since 2002, with countless projects domestic and international under her belt. She currently manages sommelier world champion Marc Almert, the culinary think tank Koch.Campus, the Styrian wineries Weingut Muster.Gamlitz, Weingut Langmann and the STK wineries, the culinary concept store Kärntnerei and the Kozlović wine estate in Istria.