Well-made and healthy food does not need to contain meat. A proof for that is the Austrian gourmet restaurant TIAN with its delicate vegetarian meals. They provide dishes with premium ingredients made by passionate and driven young chefs.
One of them is 24-years-old Jonathan Wittenbrink. He was fourteen years old when he started to get interested in cooking. “The interest was very much influenced by the British TV chef Jamie Oliver”, says Jonathan. As a TIAN chef he works with seasonal ingredients from the region and their own nursery TIAN bio-naturefair in Kärnten. Jonathan especially likes the extravagant preparation of the dishes. Sure, after a while it became routine, but still he always learns something new: “Be it new techniques to improve former meals or while working on new ones.” Jonathan feels bored about standard dishes with ordinary quality. Maybe he has to prove himself as a young chef to an extent. “You want to show that you can keep up with other chefs, especially older ones. But it’s a cooperative atmosphere”, says Jonathan about competitive pressure.
With its choice of haute cuisine TIAN focuses on people with a longing for ethical, sustainable and meatless food. A lifestyle that addresses many young people. “I don’t think that we address more vegetarian or vegan people.” But is their high class food affordable for young customers? “At lunchtime the prices are much cheaper so you can get very good and extravagant meals for little money”, says Jonathan, “it is more about the priority that food occupies for oneself.”
For Jonathan food has a high priority, because as a chef he has decided to work in a very busy job with long working hours: “Sure you know that you have to work a lot more than most of your friends.” He is at the beginning of his career and can handle the disadvantages very well. “If you really like what you’re doing you see the lack of free time as harmless.” To connect with other chefs and to stay up-to-date Jonathan and his colleges use common social media like Facebook, Instagram and Co. Networks that are only for chefs, for example chefstalk, are quite uninteresting. His advice for other young chefs is to think about a certain direction before jumping into the job. There are many differences in bistros and gourmet restaurants. Jonathan suggests apprenticeships as a good way to decide your direction. “If you notice that it really makes fun you only have to keep the passion going.” Jonathan is definitely passionate about his work at TIAN. He hopes for the future that the awareness for nutritious food grows and people accept that good food has its price.