Offering up a taste of Austria

Austria House was really cookin' during the Paralympics, dishing up authentic Viennese dishes at their fancy digs in Lost Lake Park as they played host to athletes, coaches and curious members of the public.

Chef Gottfried Gansterer is the mustachioed man behind the traditional tastes on offer during the Paralympic Games. This wasn't his first trip to the Olympic rodeo; he was also at the helm of the kitchens of Austria Houses at the Nagano and Salt Lake City Winter Games, and the Summer Games held in Sydney in 2000.

But he was pleasantly surprised by B.C.'s bounty of fresh fruit, veggies and meat available at his fingertips.

"I've never had a good quality of meat like here," he enthused.

Chef Gansterer came armed with a team of 14 students and staff members from the culinary school where he teaches who were put to work whipping up delicious and authentic Viennese specialties for the 50 to 80 guests who visited Austria house each day during the Paralympic Games.

On Saturday afternoon, the chef and his culinary team were at The Grocery Store, stocking up for their last supper in Whistler, which featured Tyrolean ham served with bell pepper cream cheese, bread, pickles and silver onions, Viennese potato soup, breaded pork schnitzel, roast sirloin served "esterhazy"-style, with julienned veggies and small dumplings, and Hungarian-style goulash with sausage and pickles. If those savory dishes weren't enough to tantalize your taste buds, they also whipped up some sweeter dishes like apple strudel, "kaiserschmarrn" (thick diced pancakes with plum jam), "sachertorte" (chocolate layer cake with apricot jam and chocolate glaze) and "maronicreme" (chestnut puree with raspberry sauce) to tempt people into sampling their national cuisine. With a menu like that, I don't think anyone walked away disappointed.

"My job is to give you an idea about the Austrian cuisine. I don't like to mix it up!" Chef Gansterer explained. "We have the apple strudel, we have the kaiserschmarrn, we have the traditional Austrian dishes, and that's why we are here, to present our country on the culinary side."

Of course, a chef is only as good as the ingredients they have to work with. And according to Chef Gansterer, the large quantities of fresh produce and meat they had The Grocery Store deliver to their doorstep each and every day was fresh and top-notch quality.

"It was really, really very important to me to have helping hands on this side," chef Gansterer said, gesturing around the store. "Because if you don't have a good quality on food, if you don't have a good supplier who is bringing big amounts of food to the Austrian House, I can't do it!"

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