Why to reserve a table in Kitzbühel before skiing...
It is not necessarily a modest goal that Ivan Marzola has been pursuing for years together with Christian Harisch: The two want to reinvent mountain gastronomy in Kitzbühel. The legendary "Sonnbühel" serves them as the setting for this. Was reopened on December 4, 2015 and built in 1924. It is probably the oldest ski lodge in the world. Already during the first visit to Kitzbühel, Marzola had the thought that he would like to live here one day. At that time he was 20 years old and a member of the Italian national ski team. Ivan Marzola skied in the World Cup for seven years, and in Kitzbühel he once made it into the top ten. That's why - before we get to Sonnbühel and the reinvention of mountain gastronomy - we also have to talk briefly about the Streif.
When the ski association calls you and tells you that you can come to Kitzbühel, the first thing you do is get scared. You know that the Streif is no mean feat. When you get here, you feel the nervousness. It hangs in the air, so to speak. And that's not just the case for the younger racers, but also for the older ones who have raced here 100 times. But it's worth it in terms of the feeling you get once you've ridden this downhill.
You say that, even apart from the race, you were immediately enthusiastic about Kitzbühel. What fascinates you about this place?
Kitzbühel simply has flair! When you come here, you immediately feel that there is something there. The first people who settled here already knew why. I thought to myself: I would like to live here one day. The town, the people, the enthusiasm for skiing and the mountains - it's just exactly mine. In addition, it's not far from the nearest airport and you can also get to the sea quite quickly. That's a good thing, because my wife isn't exactly a mountain goat.
For the winter season 2015/2016 you took over the Sonnbühel, probably the oldest ski hut in the world and a real institution. Together with the owner, Christian Harisch, mountain gastronomy was reinvented.
We wanted to get away from this typical ski lodge food: Goulash soup, Wiener Schnitzel, Germknödel, etc. With us, everything is freshly prepared, with fresh and high-quality ingredients. There is no pre-cooked or reheated food here. Also, that it is possible to reserve a table with us, is rather unusual for a hut. In addition, we try to make the time with us so pleasant for the guests that they want to stay seated for a long time. That may not necessarily be good for business, but we certainly don't want anyone to have the feeling that they are just a number here and are being processed as if on an assembly line.
So like a gourmet restaurant in the ski resort?
We deliberately avoid the term gourmet restaurant. But in any case, we offer very high-end cuisine and want to clearly stand out in terms of quality. Nevertheless, we also enjoy the advantages of a hut, because here the guest is perhaps not quite as strict as in a gourmet restaurant, in other words: you can walk around in jeans and shirt, it is not so tragic from which side the food is set and you can also be a bit funny sometimes.
But many people also appreciate the typical hut feeling and food, especially when skiing. How was your start?
At the beginning, many said, "What are you doing with that fish up there?" Or, "Why do you have table reservations?" But now the phone is ringing off the hook with reservation requests, and at lunchtime we sometimes have to send someone away with a heavy heart or offer them a table the next day. So we are on the right track.