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Erich Cochlar
Biography of the chef de cuisine
Article added on December 1, 2011

The English speaking public are not aware of the fact that many famous German chefs are in fact Austrian. The small German speaking neighbor not only exports good chefs, some of the best are active in Austria. One of them is Erich Cochlar.
  
Biography of the chef de cuisine Erich Cochlar

Erich Cochlar was born in Vienna in 1971. From August 1986 to August 1989, he served his apprenticeship to become a cook at the Hilton am Stadtpark in Vienna, where he worked from March 1990 to September 1991 as a commis saucier. At the Hilton, Erich Cochlar learned the basics of the international cuisine. At the time, the Hilton featured five restaurants. One of them was the Prinz Eugen. Under its chef Eduard Mitsche, it was awarded a Michelin star.

Erich Cochlar's next job as a commis was at the Eurest, an à la carte Restaurant seating 80 people at the Vienna International Centre; it largely catered to UN diplomats.

From August 1992 to September 1994, Eric Cochlar worked at the Marriott Wien with its American grill restaurant. Under the supervision of executive chef Walter Suchentrunk, Erich Cochlar learned how to work with large groups and how to build a well-structured organization catering to up to 1000 people in large banquets.

From October 1994 to May 1995, Erich Cochlar had his first job as executive chef at the Sodexho MM Catering Vienna in the Danube Business Park. Its restaurant seating 70 guests offered an exclusive business lunch.

From June 1995 to April 1998, Erich Cochlar worked as chef de cuisine at the Vienna Restaurant Leopold. Opened by a former guest relations manager at the Marriott, the Leopold offered traditional, plain cuisine in Vienna's second district.

After an interlude as executive chef at the Vienna Restaurant Hansen, Erich Cochlar became chef de cuisine at the Guess Club in Vienna from September 1998 to June 1999. The Guess Club offered authentic international cuisine (no fusion) ranging from German, French and Italian to Thai and Chinese cuisine.

From September 1999 to August 2001 and - after a short interlude as a sous-chef at the Vienna restaurant Schwarzes Kameel“ - from November 2001 to April 2003, Erich Cochlar first worked as a chef de partie and then as a sous-chef at the Hotel Vienna Plaza. At the time, its chef, Werner Matt, was awarded a Michelin-Stern. Werner Matt is the Austrian equivalent to Paul Bocuse. He revolutionized Austrian cuisine. Erich Cochlar calls him a close friend even today. He considers Matt a chef for whom “less was more” and who did not lose himself in irrelevant details. The produce was the star.

During his time with Werner Matt, Erich Cochlar had the chance to do a three-week internship a Heinz Beck's Restaurant La Pergola in Rome's Hotel Cavalieri Hilton (today the Rome Cavalieri - Waldorf Astoria). At the time, Heinz Beck already held two Michelin-stars; in 2005, he was awarded the third. I had the chance myself to taste Heinz Beck's cuisine a few years ago and he is brilliant. You have to learn from the great to improve yourself, not copy them.

From May 2003 to April 2004,
Erich Cochlar as an executive chef together with Attila Douogtan opened the restaurant Do & Co at the world-famous Albertina museum. In its open show kitchen, they offered refined and light meals with short cooking times. The guests could chose their fish from an aquarium. It does not get fresher than that.

From May 2004 to October 2006, Erich Cochlar worked under one of the “young wild ones” (junge Wilde), Sven Büttner, at the Kempinski Hotel Atlantic in Hamburg. With his experimental gourmet cuisine, Sven Büttner reached two Gault Millau Hats. Erich Cochlar told me that  Sven Büttners slogan was: “Let's try everything. Nothing is impossible.” As executive chef, Erich Cochlar was responsible for banqueting department and organized caterings for up to 3000 people.

Since November 1, 2006, Erich Cochlar works as a chef de cuisine at Le Méridien Wien. Check also our 2007-German review of Cochlar's work at the Shambala at the Meridien Vienna with the review of another dinner.

Erich Cochlar's cooking philosophy at Shambala, the restaurant at the hotel Meridien in Vienna

Vienna's Meridien Hotel features an inventive cuisine as one of its highlights. Since November 2006, Erich Cochlar is its executive chef.

The hotel's gourmet restaurant, Shambala, is named after the legendary Buddhist country in the Himalaya region. In Tibetan, Shambala means “source of joy”. The restaurants seats 130 guests in an open space.  It is suitable for elegant dinners, simple snacks or just a glass of wine. Chill out alcoves and the Shambala Bar complement the dining area.

Executive chef Erich Cochlar favors an experimental cuisine with seasonal produce with intensive flavors. Venison medallions with sea scallops, veal tenderloin baked in cacao, coffee bean crust on fish or vegetarian plates such as polenta with coconut milk and chili which are among some of the more exotic combinations he offers.

At Shambala, the chef's experimental creativity knows no boundaries. Erich Cochlar interprets Viennese, Mediterranean, Oriental, Persian and Asian dishes his way. In addition, the molecular cuisine also plays an important part.

Erich Cochlar's menu changes monthly. The clients' favorite dishes may be offered during the entire season. Some Shambala classics even remain permanently on the menu. The chef's main preoccupation is the happy customer.

The hotel and restaurant cater to a younger crowd. Most guests seem to be in the late twenties to the early forties. The restaurant is open to the bar, where a live DJ performs in the evenings. Video projections on the restaurant walls complement the visual impression of a hip place. The hotel permanently collaborates with young artists.


Review of a vegetarian dinner at the restaurant Shambala under executive chef Erich Cochlar


At Shambala, they have a sophisticated light show installed; I tested the restaurant when Sound Frame was responsible for the art videos projected on paintings hanging on the walls, with the painter's consent. Since the color of the light influences your taste of wine, it would be interesting to taste different bottles with different lights, but that's for another time.

Erich Cochlar, the executive chef at Shambala, is still getting better. His restaurant is perfectly suitable for vegetarians such as me. My dinner started with four type of bread rolls, oil, olives, as well as a papaya and chili dip. As an aperitif, I chose a glass of Moët & Chandon Brut Impérial Champagne. Incidentally, the hotel opened its Moët Champagne Bar in December 2010, where Erich Cochlar offers finger food, take-away dishes and more.

As appetizers, the chef sent a refreshing fennel and orange salad on an elder balsamic as well as three brilliant pumpkin variations, served cold: a dessert-like mousse, a chip and a ragout in cubes. At the same time, I was served a glass of a 2009 Riesling Kamptaler Terrassen from the Bründlmayer winery, a young, light and dry wine with 12% alcohol.

My following dish was an avocado-mozzarella terrine with a tapenade (purée) from Taggiasche olives presented together with a ciabatta chip. Together with this course, I tasted a 2009 Smaragd Riesling from the Freie Weingärten Wachau in Weisskirchen. This young and extremely fresh white wine with 13% alcohol is cultivated on steep terraced vineyards above the Danube.

Another light and healthy course followed with consommé from the Olivetti tomato, served together with a Salvia strudel. Tomatoes cut in little cubes swam in the consommé, which was outright brilliant with a intensity that outdid all the often excellent gazpachos I tasted in Spain in previous years.

A grilled Halloumi, a cheese from Northern Cyprus, together with a rough purée (called Stampf in Austria) of sweet potato and ginger followed. Together with the dish I tasted a 2009 Chardonnay from Fritz Wieninger, a winery situated in Vienna's 21st district. The wine with its 12.5% alcohol is grown in sand and limestone soil on the Bisamberg and offers a classic honey and melon taste.

For dessert, Erich Cochlar offered me a mousse from a sweet-bitter chocolate served together with a vanilla semifreddo and an apple crunch. In addition, I tasted a selection of the chef's refined ice-creams, including excellent blackberry and elderberry flower aromas.

Last but not least, the 2007-water list mentioned in my
2007-German review has disappeared, but all the waters are still available. I tried again this exclusive Fiji Artesian water coming from an intact ecosystem. Among us, you can as well drink Vienna's excellent tab water, which is more eco-friendly.

In short, Erich Cochlar's Shambala restaurant is better than ever!


Chef de cuisine Erich Cochlar. Photo © Le Meridien Wien, Austria.
Cook books at Amazon.com - Cook books at Amazon.co.uk.




The restaurant Shambala at the Meridien Vienna.
Photos © Le Meridien Vienna, Austria. - Cook books at Amazon.com - Cook books at Amazon.co.uk.


Detail of the restaurant Shambala with its violet and rose colors. Ph
otos © Le Meridien Vienna, Austria.


The Shambala Bar with its lights changing according to the time of the day. Photos © Le Meridien Vienna. - Cook books at Amazon.com - Cook books at Amazon.co.uk.

Deutsch Politik Geschichte Kunst Film Musik Lebensart Reisen
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© Copyright www.cosmopolis.ch  Louis Gerber  All rights reserved.