Karsten Wolf is the executive chef at Lanserhof, one of the most advanced health resorts in the world. When I visited the resort in January, self-quarantine was not on the menu yet. But I learned much about healthy, immune boosting dishes. The current Covid-19 crisis makes it just more important to cook with the best ingredients in the simplest way. Especially now you have a chance to prepare food yourself at home. Learn more from Karsten Wolf.
IRMA: Can you tell us something about the key concept behind the Lanserhof kitchen?
KARSTEN WOLF: We have developed our comprehensive concept, the Lanserhof Cure, together with our doctors and therapists over decades.
Teas, water and rest determine the day. The simplicity of our dishes, the naturalness of the products and the expertise of my kitchen crew are the starting point for my Lanserhof cuisine.
IRMA.: What are the most common ingredients you need for healthy cooking at Lanserhof ?
KARSTEN WOLF: We try to cook seasonal food as much as possible. Root vegetables such as carrot and parsley root, fennel, etc. are used daily for our famous broth. The potato, buckwheat but also our unique linseed oil are our highlights, I source everything within a radius of 100 km here in the Oberland up to Tyrol as regional, i.e. Alpine regional.
IRMA: Time is more and more an issue; how can you prepare healthy food components in advance and how can you use them during the week? Do you have a favourite dish, an all-time dish, an ingredient, a sauce or a dip that can be used for several dishes?
KARSTEN WOLF: Good question, here at Lanserhof I have the luxury of being able to cook with fresh products every day. At home, I find it difficult to do so. I always have cooked quinoa in a glass, and soaked chia seeds for a healthy breakfast. A homemade chervil pesto is always in the fridge for a dip, quickly stirred in a soy or goat yoghurt and with a pinch of salt. Even cooked chickpeas are always available in the freezer. Be it for a wok dish or a spread. Oatmeal and organic spelt are always on the kitchen shelf. Or some fresh herbs on the windowsill to spice up any dish. We make the curry powder ourselves in our kitchen as well as our herbal salt, which can be prepared in large quantities.
My favourite dish: avocado with venison ham and an egg (from free-range chickens, I am lucky that a friend of mine keeps chickens herself).
Just put Coco-Ghee in the pan, some avocado, whip 2 eggs, let them cook slowly, add venison ham thinly sliced, and you have an amazing dish. Eat it with a buckwheat toast with linseed oil – so delicious!
IRMA: Your most important cooking appliance for a healthy cuisine?
KARSTEN WOLF: All I need is my wok, a rice cooker and the bamboo steamer and I’m happy.
Rice or quinoa in the cooker, the fish in the bamboo steamer, the vegetables in the wok – it’s quick and easy.
IRMA: How do you find inspiration for new flavours and healthy versions of classic dishes?
KARSTEN WOLF: I have already convinced few friends of our healthy Lanserhof cuisine, so I often get invitations to small kitchen parties – I pass on my knowledge and get new ideas back immediately. A friend of mine has a herb garden and a vegetable patch, this taste of freshly harvested ingredients is simply unique, fresh on the table. She makes the best bowls: fresh spinach, chard, zucchini and scrumptious carrot. Everything tastes supernatural.
We have a young cook from Sri Lanka in our kitchen, he plays with spices, that inspires me a lot. But I also go to the farmers, check out the conditions on site, see how the animals are raised. I have found a farm near Tölz which breeds Wagyu cattle, right here in the Oberland, just great. The animals can roam freely, are fed with natural food like grass, you can literally taste the meadow herbs.
Of course, I also go to restaurants, I love vegan and vegetarian food. In Munich and London there are some cool locations.
IRMA: What is the challenge of cooking at Lanserhof?
KARSTEN WOLF: We cook without garlic, onion and the like, and we don’t even use butter. These are all flavoursome, here we have to make up for them and find good alternatives. In addition, our cooking is sometimes very individual, we cater to every intolerance of our guests, from histamine to nickel, everything is included.
IRMA: Do you believe in the healing effect of food and nutrition? If so, which dish comes to your mind to strengthen your general immune system?
KARSTEN WOLF: I believe in it 100%! The way from the doctor to the pharmacy should first lead through the herb garden and then into the kitchen. There are healing herbs and spices for many diseases.
Cinnamon is anti-inflammatory, pepper stimulates the metabolism, parsley strengthens the immune system – there are many more examples.
A dish to strengthen the immune system: Beetroot cakes on mangold ginger with saffron soy dip.