Chef at Kastaniengarten restaurant, Ralph Gelder, introduces himself
Right next to the Freiheitshalle and opposite the theater in the Upper Franconian Hof on the Saale river, the creative chef Ralph Gelder and his young team bring culinary indulgence onto the plates at the Kastaniengarten restaurant. Discover a stylish restaurant in which a kitchen team with irrepressible cooking passion combines and perfects modern and traditional with influences from the Mediterranean and Franconian cuisine.
Cooking is handcraft
Passion to the profession and to the product, brought to the plate. That stands for Ralph Gelder, the chef and culinary artist of passion. Born and raised in the Franconian wine trading town of Kitzingen, his enthusiasm for cooking began as a young child in his mother's kitchen. Here he spent countless hours watching her while she was cooking and prepared old Frankish recipes for the family. That awoke his love for the art of food preparation. In him, the old cooking trade lives on, he preserves it and carries it on in a very special way. Whereby there is no standstill for the imaginative chef. To expand, change and improve cooking habits are as much his credo as the sophisticated preparation, the harmonious coordination of the individual ingredients and a creative serving. For him, cooking is accurate craftsmanship, unbridled passion, constant ambition, and a creative mind-bending process that never ends. Always in focus: The guest and his wishes.
Before the chef from Lower Franconia moved to Hof in Upper Franconia in 1993, he completed his apprenticeship as a cook in the Inn and Hotel Goldene Krone in Iphofen. In the Franconian-influenced kitchen of the family-run company, he learned his trade and developed his passion for game and fish dishes. His career in the culinary world spans a multitude of international stations in star gastronomy, where he acquired his expertise in classic haute cuisine and modern French brasserie cuisine. For example, he cooked at the Parkhotel Schwert in Switzerland, at the Bermudas in the Lantana Colony Club and at the Interconti Hotel Berlin in the former Restaurant Hugenotten - today the Hugo. His menus with harmony for flavors brought him accolades and respect from colleagues and guests. In the restaurant Kastaniengarten in the Hotel Central in Hof, the 50-year-old realizes his thoughts and dreams of a seasonal and conscious slowfood cuisine in which sustainability and taste are the focus.
Time for tasting
As chef, he has found his calling and can live out his culinary passion every day anew. The passionate chef Ralph Gelder and his team use only the best products, herbs and spices and a great deal of attention to detail. He focuses on slow cooking, cooking with reason. In his kitchen, this not only means slow and gentle cooking of foods that retain all the vitamins and nutrients and do not require extra fat. No. In Ralph Gelder's kitchen everything from fish, game, beef or pork is processed. He conjures up meat stock for the sauces out of bones and more, and he also creates aspic out of offal. Even with vegetables, for example, the leaves of the radishes come as a sophisticated radish soup. The culinary field of experimentation of the chef knows no bounds. So he combines local products with ingredients and the sunny influences of the Mediterranean and creates true taste sensations with flavors and spices and herbs from the local garden or freshly picked from the bed behind the hotel, in which every guest has his pleasure. The menu varies greatly seasonally. New dishes appear constantly. Always prepared from fresh and currently available products from the market. However, what you will not find in his kitchen are preservatives and flavor enhancers. They have to stay outside.
From toppings to hospitality
Ralph Gelder attaches great importance to his guests enjoying and experiencing their restaurant visit with all their senses. He leaves nothing to chance and also has a fine touch when serving as in the processing and preparation of his products. Because in addition to the taste factor a beautiful presentation is always in the center. Decorated with spices and flowers. He sets toppings with fresh or fried herbs and fruits. Draws highlights or threads or forms spirals in sauces and glazes. He pays close attention to color design and arrangement on the plate, in the bowl, on the plate or in the glasses. And so it is not surprising that the creative chef in addition to current food trends also likes to experiment with dishes, which stands out by fashionable design and unusual shapes. He lets arise small works of art in it or on it - without losing the adhesion. Because even a typical Franconian Sunday roast he lets look really stylish. Ralph Gelder is an open-minded chef who likes to sit at the tables of his guests and make sure that everyone is satisfied. He likes to delight his guests with his food. If he then sees their joy in the face, it is the best and greatest praise for the Hof chef. But he also listens to critical voices precisely and with open ears. Because a criticism that helps to get better is always welcome.
One team, one family
Ralph Gelder is a relaxed chef. Due to his long professional experience, he is not only master at the stove, but also a master in coordination, who loses neither his humor nor his calm even in hectic situations. Smooth cooperation, friendly interaction, friendly cooperation characterize the kitchen team at the Kastaniengarten restaurant. This ensures cohesion and perfect teamwork. A total of seven colleagues assist Ralph Gelder in his work. Ralph Gelder himself is primarily concerned with meat and fish and the matching delicious sauces. Christian Villa, Germany's first spice sommelier among the chefs, is mainly responsible for appetizers, soups, desserts and conjures up the vegan delicacies. Jan Flasdieck takes care of the right bite as a tournant with vegetables and side dishes. Active everywhere is Jörg Stürzenhofecker. This is joined by a young junior chef in training, a diligent lady as a kitchen helper and two nimble female dishwashers.
Fresh and from the region
Short ways to suppliers, the use of local and seasonal products are main components of the cooking philosophy of Ralph Gelder. Especially fresh food directly from the farm, orchard or vegetable field are so varied in flavor that they inspire the chef over and over again to new dishes. Ralph Gelder relies on years of very good cooperation with growers and producers who are deeply rooted in the Hof region and who are aware of their responsibility to the environment and treat their offers with respect. So it is not surprising that Gelder brings old vegetable rarities, such as the Bamberger Hörnchen - an almost forgotten potato variety, on the menu. Like the eggs of free-range chickens, this original potato comes directly from an organic farm in the area. More vegetables and fruits are bought from local dealers and farmers at the Hof weekly market. Honey is supplied by a beekeeper friend. He receives meat, poultry and sausages from a traditional butchery in Hof, which offers only meat from species-appropriate methods. Likewise, he obtains dairy products exclusively from local suppliers. Fresh fish and smoked fish are ordered from fishing enterprises in the Hof area. He grows cress, chives, savory, dandelion and many other herbs in his own garden. He gets peppermint directly from the bed behind the hotel. A local bakery provides the restaurant daily with fresh pretzels, rolls and sheet cake and other baked goods. He gets a fresh dough for a very special herb bread with coriander and fennel from the nearby Reiterhof Wirsberg. Seasonal jams and jams are boiled down. As a thoughtful hunter Ralph Gelder provides the specialties on the game board himself. He conjures up delicious roasts and terrines from venison and, among other things, he makes his own wild boar sausage from the wild boar mallet. Based on Franconian original recipes or fresh and creative.
Source of inspiration
Ralph Gelder loves to create new dishes and changes the menu several times a month. Inspiration for the perfect combination of regional ingredients and flavors from all over the world to conjure new combinations for his food, finds the chef, family man of twins and hobby hunter in nature. Ideas come to him when he is in the forest and lets his thoughts run free from a hill or his hunting lodge with a view over the Fichtelgebirge and the Franconian Forest. Or they come to him when he collects wild mushrooms and wild herbs, picking wild fruits such as sloes and sea buckthorn. But also while strolling across the weekly market, when he touches some of the fresh products, smells at them. With the feeling of this fresh fruit and vegetables, he begins to imagine recipes. He also collects new input while traveling. On his world trips to Asia, New Zealand, Australia, South Seas and America, he has gained many culinary experiences as well as cultural experiences, to which he has added his personal touch. All of this recharges his batteries and gives him the energy he needs to keep working at his normal pace. Because his mind as well as his taste is always on the search. If you ask Ralph Gelder, what on his menu may not be missing despite all the lust for experimentation and the imaginative range of recipes, he replies mischievously: "The classic. A delicious Franconian Sunday roast with typical Franconian dumplings and red cabbage." Of course Ralph Gelder personally prepares the roast. The meat is stewed very slowly and the chef conjures a fine creamy gravy, refined with sweet or sour cream, red wine, cherry, beer or herbs from the roast stock. Ralph Gelder likes to spoil his guests again and again and put them a little way into childhood with this kind of roast.
Second helping? Visit our Kastaniengarten restaurant website.