Paul Ivić is the Culinary head of Tian Restaurants in Vienna and Munich. In 2014 he clinched his first Michelin Star in the Austrian Capital, and has held on to it next to three Toques in the Gault Millau.

 

A Chef portrait of Paul Ivić
text: Silke Liebig-Braunholz
photo © portrait: Ingo Pertramer

 

The Michelin Guide 2018 testers pointedly refer to the “Depth of flavor in the purely vegetarian and vegan cuisine” from Paul Ivić, and in doing so they describe the number-one goal this extraordinary Chef strives towards in his creations. In addition to an amazing taste experience, Ivić wants to convey a message to people and his guests. “We have as Kitchen Chefs a responsibility to Nature, our products and ingredients and should not allow ourselves to support certain industrial systems. If we all pay special attention to product quality, the market regulates itself.” he admonishingly remarks.

This week he was in Hamburg as a guest of 2-Star Michelin Chef Dirk Luther (Restaurant Meierei in Glücksburg). Chef’s Talk had initiated a series of talks around Responsibilities, challenges and goals ahead of sitting down with Cook Concern.

 

A Sensational Taste Experience

“I like diversity, and I enjoy pushing the limits”, says Paul Ivić, referring constantly to the things we find in nature and in the round, as well as dealing with the environment and the farmers that tirelessly grow such products. “Their Lobby is small. We can only strengthen them if we strengthen biodiversity, work with nature and think of our soil as a nutrient life-source once again”, he emphasizes. He finds a challenge in revitalizing older fruits and vegetables and finding farmers that will work together with him in this task. The Star Chef holds no love for Hybrid varieties, “We need to get away from that”.

His positive experiences as a vegan and vegetarian Star Chef have only strengthened him. “I’ve had a lot of flashbacks from childhood from older produce that I’ve known. Additionally and supporting that, you get more minerals, a lot of protein, good fatty acids as well as rich levels of vitamins with those sorts of produce that are important for a long and healthy life. That’s why I also want my guests to have a flashback and a healthy experience. These older selections make a sensational taste experience possible.”, says Ivić.

 

 

Rediscovering old plants and roots

He didn’t think many of his rediscoveries would be possible. “Even as a Chef you can forget to pay attention to nature.” he says.  However, working with his farmers or sometimes a wild-herb forager has taught him to rely on the seasons and engage more and more with nature. “I had no idea for example, the true wood avens root grows in the forest and that we can use this old medicinal plant in the kitchen.” So now he is experimenting more intensively with rediscovered plants and roots and incorporates these intense flavors with his menu. It takes around three weeks for he and his team to finish a new menu. “A menu is only complete when each course is an experience in its own right.”

His work itself speaks of the Michelin Chef as a purist. His only concern is the taste of his dishes, which he tirelessly moves towards perfection to bring the clarity of flavor to the palates of his guests. That is why he creates an 8-course menu, which showcases and works with just one variety of vegetable per course. “For example, when we start off with celery, then we concentrate the essence in a Jus. With that we serve either a foam or gel from Celery and present all facets of that product.”, says Paul Ivić.

 

spinach dumplings – Paul Ivić, Tian

 

Handling the product with care

We process the celery 100 percent- in order to better pay the farmers and justify higher prices for the effort. “Sometimes I pay 30 Euro a kilo for hand-picked spinach root. If we work as a team to handle this product with care, then we all benefit.” Ivić says thoughtfully. His team holds this philosophy close to heart and stand solidly behind their ambitious Chef who started the restaurant in Vienna seven years ago. “We’re just getting started. In the next year I want to attend a sensory training course for vegetables for example. With my farmers, I have been working on many development plans. Soon we will be harvesting various beans and tomato varieties, carrot varieties such as the purple haze and oat root, an old root vegetable, for use in our kitchens.

 

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