Three days with Executive Chef Margit Mersinger | Weingut Mussler
Margit Mersinger 68 years-young. We were allowed to get a peek into her life and were amazed at how passionately the Executive Chef in Weingut Mussler cooked for her guests. Three days in the life of Margit Mersinger!
Preparing, cooking and serving food for her guests just as she would for her own family is par for the course for Margit! Her joy of cooking is always there, supported by the many bright faces that appreciate her and the work of her team.
photos © Lena Geib Photographie
“It was clear early on that I would help out in my parents business, but I also wanted to successfully finish an apprenticeship.”
At the age of 16 Margit began an apprenticeship as a rural housekeeping assistant. Her parents had a mixed farm- agriculture and viticulture. At 21 years-old she married her husband Gerd, whose family also had a farm in Grosskarlbach. From 1971 Margit and Gerd have worked together in their own company. In 1975 their first child Bernd Mersinger was born and in 1977 followed their daughter Sabine Mussler (born Mersinger). From that point Margit was responsible for her own family and all the hands at the business.
The Weingut Mussler and the beginnings of Chef Margit
A few years after her daughter Sabina married Tobias Mussler, Margit started helping out at the Hof, slaughter festivals as well as wine tastings in the Mussler Winery. In 2007 the Vinothek in the Mussler winery was renovated.
“In the beginning nobody had a real kitchen operation on the mind for the wine shop, it was just for wine-tasting.”
However, even during the construction phase customers would ask if delicious snacks or canapes would be offered with the good wine. Nobody was expecting that. During the official opening party, two Italian Chefs offered some Antipasti platters and a mediterranean meat sauce, there it was clear for Margit: “Ha!… I could do that.”
The Chef we see today has always enjoyed cooking and hosting family celebrations, and she started cooking more than ten years ago in the Mussler winery in addition to her own business. From week to week, more and more guests would visit the wine shop, and Margit in turn grew in her experience.
Together with the suggestions, ideas and good taste of Tobias, the culmination is the Vinoteque today. It all developed into a self-sustaining operation and new guests find their way into Bissersheim. Now was it not only cooking in her own company in Grosskarlbach during the week, but from then on even the weekends in the winery were a part of Margits Gastronomic center.
“We have always cooked food that tastes good to us, pretty home-style and good for the whole family, but with great seasonal taste in mind. In Spring for example, Asparagus or Bärlauch sauce with boiled beef, and in Autumn and Winter a nice hearty Goulash or even better, game meat. It just has to fit, there is no reason to complicate it at all.”
“One of the most important things that we have in our company is open dialogue and the exchange of ideas. If I am coming up with new ideas for the menu I talk it over first with Sabina and also Kim, our Vinoteque manager.”
The Team of Chef Margit
After a short while it became clear, week to week the number of guests was growing and our Kitchen Chef needed a team in order to meet the growing demand. Starting with one kitchen assistant in 2008, the team of Margit Mersinger now consists of six people. The crew has known each other for many years and they they know they can count on one another. Waltraud (72), Ilona (56), Peter (52), Mukaddes (48), Daniela (46) and Margit the Chef (68).
Chef Margit is always quick to emphasize that without the team such great work would just not be possible. Personnel planning, duties and responsibilities are also overseen by Margit, everyone knows their tasks and has a clearly-defined work space.
The Vinoteque Menu explained by Margit
“Very important are constant fresh ideas and a nice variety. At the moment vegetarian dishes are pretty important for us. Also, we have at least one beef dish always on the menu for those that do not eat pork. What absolutely can never be missing is a tasty salad, such as in Summer something crisp with fresh radish and the natural rawness of other Summer vegetables as well as in winter with the ingredients that suit the season. We focus a lot that our produce definitely comes from the region and also with our meats! We always strive to work only with ingredients and produce that come from the surrounding areas. However, since our menu has a Tuscan and mediterranean flare, we pay very close attention to the quality of ingredients and spices that we use that come from far-away regions.”
“There is always the Pfalz in there!”
Every week the ordering is made and is usually picked up my Margit herself at the various companies. The orders are using the weathervane of the previous week’s volume. Dishes usually stay on the menu for about four weekends before they are changed again. Often guests will ask questions about dishes such as when various steaks will be on the menu and will plan their visits to the Vinoteque in accordance.
Companies in Partnership:
- Vegetables and lettuce come from Landwirtschaftshof Kreiselmeyer in Ruchheim
- Potatoes come from Landwirtschaftshof Dauth in Gerolsheim
- Asparagus comes from either Betrieb Kreiselmeyer or Hof Spargelhof Schreiber
- Fish comes from The Deutschen See
- Fresh bread comes from The Kurpfälzer Bakery / Michael Theurer
- Metzgerei Noll Carlsberg (Butcher)
- Metzgerei Klomann Grosskarlbach (Butcher)
National Team World Champion Chef Holger Stromberg is a big fan of Margit. He was impressed with the Bratkartoffeln.
Boxer Axel Schulz convinced himself to try the Pork Stomach. A culinary treat he remarks.
6:00 A.M. to 11:00 P.M.
“If I stay healthy, I’ll continue to support Sabina a couple more more years. Mondays are always really tough but it starts getting better on tuesdays. ”
Wednesday – The shopping
Freshness and quality are unbelievably important. The focus is on the regional product so we know where and how every potato and every radish is grown. We also make sure our meats our home-grown for our Vinoteque. Same goes for the bakeries and local farms.
The variety and high-standards of our local producers have left us with such confidence that we feel we never have to resort to other suppliers. It is pretty much a solid ritual to drive on wednesdays to the Kreiselmeyer Farm in Ruchheim in order to pick the finest vegetables. It’s as we jokingly say in the Pfalz, ‘Frozen’.
Fully loaded with potatoes, radishes, tomatoes and all sorts of things, it makes its way to our shop, and then its off to Hof Metzgerei Klomann (Butcher) in Grosskarlbach or to Metzgerei Noll (Butcher) in Carlsberg.
Our Vinoteque is always open on Fridays and Sundays. So at the beginning of the week we think about what will be offered for the coming weekend. From the classics as Antipasti platters, Flammkuchen, or a large cheese platter there are always new and unique dishes. Classic Pfälzische (Palatinate) with a new interpretation or fine mediterranean flair.
Thursday – Food Testing with the the whole operation
Since the workload was reduced do to age reasons, Margit cooks daily for the employees at the winery, and often those are where new dishes are tested. The whole team is asked for their opinions. When something isn’t a hit, which is rarely the case, it doesn’t go on the menu. The Winery is like a family and everyone is an integral part!
On Thursday afternoons the vegetables for the Antipasti platters are prepared and the jacket potatoes are as well cooked and prepped. According to what is on the menu the meats are slow-cooked, either braised or roasted. It all runs like clockwork with every employee knowing each move in synchronicity, so this leaves plenty of time for small talk about our lives with our colleagues. Of course, you have to leave time for that!
Friday – The gates of the Winery open
On Friday the fresh product is prepped. Lettuce is washed, ground meats are formed into dishes, whey cheese process is started and lots more. Everyone knows exactly what is to be done. Normally the Vinoteque opens on Friday at 5:00 P.M., but a lot of guests will wait in the garden or foyer of the winery at 4:00 P.M.
The working day for the kitchen team starts early. After a group meeting with sometimes good Riesling sparkling wine, the day sets off with a bang. It is sliced, diced, seasoned and cooked. The first orders are not far behind.
But even still: Always keep calm and stay focused. It’s important that the plate looks beautiful! That is one of the most important factors: “Every plate must be beautiful, for me it is terribly important. If it’s not, it doesn’t go out, but above all it must taste wonderful.”
The hours fly by till 9 o’clock when the kitchen starts its big clean down. However, even if a guest might knock on the door with a hungry stomach after 9, Margit the Chef won’t turn them away and leads them to a full meal. Always mindful that her guests are fully satisfied at the Vinoteque and Winery of Tobias Mussler.
Margits advice for young Chefs
“You always need to hold on to the what makes you love cooking. The praise from customers or guests is always amazing. Even if you’re hungover… it really helps. The whole Winery is my family and I cook for each and every guest as if I were cooking for my own family.”
Thank You, Margit!
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