Hometown: Vienna, Austria
Occupation: Head Chef, Steirereck
Number of years lived in Vienna: Since my birth
Number of years as a chef: 20
Awards/Accolades: Ranked #10, The World’s 50 Best Restaurants (2017)
What do you love best about Vienna’s food scene?
The diversity. Vienna always was a melting pot for different cultures so we have a lot of different and interesting dining experiences, as well.
Steirereck’s dishes feature a number of local ingredients, including those from your parents’ farm. What are some of your favorite ingredients to work with?
The lamb from our own farm. We know it from birth to plate and the flavor is simply perfect.
Imagine you had a limitless appetite and describe your perfect “dining out” day in Vienna.
I would start with a hearty breakfast at one of the many legendary Kaffeehäuser. After touring the city I would enjoy a traditional Viennese dish like Schnitzel, Gulasch, or Beuschel (stew of calf’s heart and lung). For the afternoon I would relax at one of the many “Heurigen” (wine tavern) nestled in the vineyards of the Nussberg, overlooking Vienna. More than enough food for a day. When I would get hungry again later the night I can recommend a Viennese “Würstelstand” where different people and night owls meet and enjoy traditional Viennese sausages.
What dish is your guilty pleasure and where do you go in Vienna to get it? What makes it so good?
I have a sweet tooth and like a lot the Viennese “Mehlspeis” (flour-based) varieties. The Viennese “Konditoreien” (pastry shops) offer gorgeous selections.
Are there any specific bars you like to frequent? And are there any particular cocktails or drinks at these places that you can’t find elsewhere?
The “Loos” Bar in the city center is not only an historic place (built by the famous architect Adolf Loos), it also offer sensational drinks and a superb atmosphere.
Are there any snacks or foods native to Vienna that you particularly like and can’t really be found anywhere else?
The “Heurigen” scene is unique for Vienna and Austria. Also the foods and wines presented there. Vienna is the only [capital] city in the world where wine grows within the city area.
What’s the one thing any visitor must see or do before leaving Vienna?
The monarchies’ historic places to see what tremendous empire it was before two world wars reduced it to today’s size.
Steirereck, AM Heumarkt 2A (Stadtpark); modern Austrian, lunch and dinner Monday-Friday, closed Saturday-Sunday.
Loos American Bar, Kärtner Durchgang 10 (Innere Stadt); bar, open daily.
About the Chef: With his parents operating the original Steirereck restaurant since the 1970s, Heinz Reitbauer developed an appreciation for food early on. He knew he wanted to follow in his parents’ footsteps and pursue his dream of becoming a chef when he was as young as 10.
Reitbauer trained in France and England under acclaimed chefs such as Alain Chapel and Anton Mosimann (London’s Dorchester Hotel) before returning home. He helped his parents open Wirsthaus Steirereck in a rural area of Styria before focusing on Steirereck in Vienna. The city restaurant moved to its current location inside Stadtpark, and under Reitbauer, Steiereck has been named one of the best in the world; it ranks 10th on 2017’s World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. Reitbauer says that to maintain this high level of quality and execution, “we try to stay unique and unusual with the ingredients we use and with the dishes we create.”