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10-11-2022

In memory of Heinz Winkler, three record-breaking stars

Born in Bressanone in 1949, he passed away at the age of 73, the first Italian chef to be awarded with three Michelin stars. He was only 32 and at the helm of Tantris in Munich. Not only that: he was for a long time the youngest chef in the world to hold

On the 17th July, Heinz Winkler had celebrated his 73rd birthday. Last Friday, the German-Italian chef passed away, as his family announced in a note on Facebook: ‘On 28.10.2022 our boss, friend, life companion, grandfather, father Heinz Winkler, a culinary legend, passed away after a short, serious illness. Residence Heinz Winkler, in Aschau in Chiemgau in Bavaria, was his passion and the greatest work of his life, a passion and commitment that will live on in his chosen land. May he rest in peace and may his memory live on’.

A chosen land, an important passage because, although many have discovered him this weekend due to his young age, Winkler was Italian by birth, as he was born in 1949 in Bressanone, Brixen in German. Ten siblings, his mother having died when he was 3, he was Italian by birth. It’s important to mention this because this borderland region is South Tyrol if you look at it from the north, from Austria, and Alto Adige if you look at it from the south, from Trentino.

A young Heinz Winkler cooks under the eyes of the legendary Paul Bocuse

A young Heinz Winkler cooks under the eyes of the legendary Paul Bocuse

The linguistic border is Salorno and if you are born in Bressanone, and you have a German first name and surname, it is almost obvious that should you want to change country, you’ll easily move to where idiom, customs and traditions are the same. In the case of this chef to Munich, in 1978, at twenty-nine, and then to a hamlet of a few thousand souls, Aschau im Chiemgau. On top of this, he will also learn the ropes between Switzerland and France, with Paul Bocuse.

Winkler holds an important place in the history of international and Italian fine dining. When Michelin awarded Tantris in Munich its third star in 1991, he was 32 years old, the youngest ever winner of three stars. Then came Marco Pierre White in London in 1994, same record age, and, above all, Massimiliano Alajmo in 2002 at just 28, patron of Le Calandre in Rubano in the province of Padua. And we’ve stopped there since then.

Heinz Winkler, a South Tyrolean from Bressanone, and Eckart Witzigmann, an Austrian from Badgastein, two superstar chefs linked to the epic of Tantris in Munich. They both introduced the three stars to the Germans, but neither was German by birth

Heinz Winkler, a South Tyrolean from Bressanone, and Eckart Witzigmann, an Austrian from Badgastein, two superstar chefs linked to the epic of Tantris in Munich. They both introduced the three stars to the Germans, but neither was German by birth

Here his name is almost always brought up when one reads or hears that Gualtiero Marchesi, and not his Milanese restaurant, then in Via Bonvesin de la Riva, was the first Italian chef awarded with three stars. Indeed, the restaurant was the first, in December 1985. But the chef himself wasn’t the first, because of Winkler’s record.

Tantris kept its three stars until 1991, for ten years. For his part, the chef would move halfway between Munich and Salzburg, intermittently loved by the red guide, which promoted him to three stars in only two editions, 1994 and 1995, then relegated him to two, then back to three from 2001 to 2008, and finally back to two at the end of the Noughties. And there his castle still stands, in that golden purgatory between the crowd of single stars and the paradise of three. He loved to think up and prepare game dishes with a French stamp, but before that he loved herbs and spices so much that he christened his philosophy Cucina Vitale, a sensual cuisine, never heavy, that was meant to be a source of inspiration. Among the many who have passed through his doors at Tantris, the most famous is Heinz Beck, three stars at La Pergola in Rome and his former pastry chef. May he rest in peace.

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso


Affari di Gola di Paolo Marchi

A mouth watering page, published every Sunday in Il Giornale from November 1999 to the autumn of 2010. Stories and personalities that continue to live in this website

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Paolo Marchi

born in Milan in March 1955, at Il Giornale for 31 years dividing himself between sports and food, since 2004 he's the creator and curator of Identità Golose.
blog www.paolomarchi.it
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