We always say, “Eat with your eyes. In the “Seeshaupter country kitchen” this phrase applies as soon as you look at the counter in the delicatessen. Lined up like pearls on a string, they are filled in jars: the dishes of Jörg Schmitz. The view alone is a feast for the eyes. Almost reverently, sweet potato and chilli await shoppers alongside Thai vegetable curry and braised beef cheeks next to Barolo roast. There are several mason jar soups, including carrot ginger soup, potato soup, and goulash soup. There is vitello tonnato, antipasto salad and horseradish boiled beef salad in a glass. And of course fish dishes like diced salmon in a grainy mustard sauce. The best thing about it: canned foods can be stored in the fridge at seven degrees for up to six months.
“Seeshaupter Country Kitchen” is what Jörg Schmitz calls his company in the hall at Bahnhofplatz. In the front area of the modern building is a bread roll shop, which also offers everyday groceries. In the rear part, Schmitz manages his delicatessen counter and a midday bistro with five tables, as well as a terrace with five other tables. “Country kitchen”: Who hears this term thinks rather of a peasant woman who likes to cook and who sells her dishes from the farm. But Schmitz’s business is much more about gourmet cooking.
The 55-year-old chef learned his trade from scratch. He spent six years abroad – in Sweden and Switzerland – and cooked there in five-star establishments. Before starting his own business, he worked as assistant chef at the conference hotel “La Villa”, after which he became head chef at the “Forsthaus Ilkahöhe”.
A new business model was the solution
It was 22 years ago. But then he and his wife separated. Their daughter was only four years old at the time. “Working every weekend and also working in the evening – I wouldn’t have seen my daughter at all.” Schmitz wanted to avoid that anyway.
Schmitz therefore proposed a new business model with fixed working and opening hours. The decisive element for him was: “How to reconcile cooking and family life?” This is how the idea of canned food was born – two decades before the corona pandemic. It all started with a little snack at Seeshaupt. Cooking and eating took place on 24 square meters. Only eight people fit in the small dining room at this time. 15 years ago, Schmitz then moved to his current home on Bahnhofplatz.
Regular customers mainly come
The menus at Schmitz Country Kitchen Bistro change daily. Mainly regular customers eat here for lunch. Some come once or twice a week, others every day. “If I didn’t have dishes that changed every day, the diners would quickly get bored.” The menu includes dishes such as “homemade salmon with ginger pickles, orange-basil sauce and wild herb salad” and “South Tyrolean spinach balls with sage butter and parmesan cheese” or boiled veal tenderloin with sauce with herb cream, asparagus and roasted bread dumplings”. Desserts include crème brûlée with caramelized almonds. Prices for daily specials are between 19.80 and 9.80 euros. for those who are hungry It is customary that there is at least one vegetarian dish on the menu.
Jörg Schmitz does not work alone in his kitchen, Chaminda Samaraweera has been helping him for 15 years. The 44-year-old is from Sri Lanka. He started as a dishwasher and worked his way up to become a cook, Schmitz says. “He cooks really well and with a lot of passion. You don’t often find that.” He can cook anything that can be prepared according to a recipe.
Lunch at the bistro is from 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday are rest days. If you don’t have time to eat at the restaurant on weekdays, you can also order the dish of your choice from the “take away” menu of the day. Reusable tableware is available for this purpose, which the customer simply brings back on his next visit. Given that, according to the chef’s estimate, 90% of the diners are regular customers, this is not a problem anyway. “I’m very careful to produce as little waste as possible.” By the way, most mason jars are also flipped. “They’re too good for people to throw in the glass container,” Schmitz says.
Daughter Lisa is a ‘test eater’, together with her father she runs a party service
On weekends, the chef spends a lot of time with his daughter Lisa: she is now 26, an event organizer and has studied hotel and tourism management. On Saturday, she agreed to act as a test eater for her father. You should know that Jörg Schmitz likes to experiment – including with vegan cuisine. The daughter then tastes the dishes that the father has created.
The two also run a restaurant and party service together on weekends. The menus are freshly prepared on site: either the crew cooks in the client’s kitchen if it is well equipped for the menu to be prepared there. Or Schmitz and his daughter come to the client with their own kitchen and set it up there. How many additional serving staff the two orders depends on the size of the party.
Only one question remains: what is the chef’s favorite dish? “Ochsenbackerl”, says Jörg Schmitz like a pistol shot.
The “Seeshaupter Landküche” in the market hall on the station square with bistro and catering counter is open Monday to Thursday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The field kitchen is closed on weekends.