Sophisticated alpine cuisine with a dash of international flair

Interview with chef Milena Broger

Milena Broger ©Ian Ehm

“Cooking is what I chose to do with my life. It’s the only activity that keeps bringing me back to myself”, Milena Broger explains. When she was 13 years old she stumbled upon one of her father’s books of recipes. A coincidence that quickly kindled her passion for cooking. Today the woman from Bregenz Forest is a shooting star of the culinary scene where she treats enthusiastic gourmets to her simple natural cuisine – since 2016 as chef de cuisine at Restaurant Klösterle in Zug. An interview on tradition, courageous decisions, and living in the here and now.

L.L. / It’s said that it was a book of your father’s recipes that you found when you were a teenager that laid the foundation for your professional development. Back then – did you think that more than ten years later you’d have such a promising career as a chef ahead of you?

M.B. / It all started with a book of recipes and my family’s passion for cooking and making each other happy with good food. I did not think or dream, however, that it would lead me exactly where I am today. I find it so fulfilling to make people happy with food and extraordinary new tastes every day.

L.L. / You are chef de cuisine at Restaurant Klösterle in Zug. How did you end up here and why did you think the restaurant in a former traditional farmers’ house at the end of an old pass road was the perfect spot for your professional development?

M.B. / After several internships in Japan, Denmark, and Italy I wanted to use what I had learned at home and combine the new techniques with our regional ingredients. The offer from Hannelore Schneider came at the perfect time. It’s a wonderful place for combining old traditions with new ideas and revive them in the process.

Eva Maria Walch and Milena Broger ©Jürgen Schmücking
Eva Maria Walch and Milena Broger ©Jürgen Schmücking

L.L. / Eva-Maria Walch is the charming hostess and sommelière at Klösterle, you treat the guests to your extraordinary culinary art. Would you say you’re a dream team?

M.B. / Yes, we truly are. I am so happy to have met Eva-Maria and to know she’s part of the Klösterle-team. Her extraordinary qualities with regards to wine and hospitality play a huge part in our guests’ wellbeing.

L.L. / Klösterle is popular with regulars who like to order the same thing every year – their favourite dish. How free do you feel you are with regards to your cooking?

M.B. / Our regulars will always find the traditional fondue and the whole roast duck on the menu. And on top of that I make a six-course menu for the more curious and courageous guests (laughs).

L.L. / Your style is often described as simple yet sophisticated. Your dishes are connected to the region and use local ingredients. How did you develop your style of cooking?

M.B. / It’s the media that described the style that way. I personally try out all the techniques that I got to learn so far and I combine them with regional ingredients. I think that it is incredibly important for chefs to treat the local ingredients with respect and use exciting cooking methods to revive them and elevate them to another level.

L.L. / Beef Tartar with brown butter, braised ox cheeks, or filet from local char. Which of your dishes here at Klösterle is a must-try on the Arlberg this winter?

M.B. / Each guest who comes to Klösterle should be open to trying new things and have a yen for traditional fare, too.

©Ian Ehm
©Ian Ehm

L.L. / It seems that it was the Japanese cuisine in particular that left its mark on you – even on the outside where, with your bandana, you resemble a Japanese sushi master. What were you able to take away from that experience?

M.B. / First and foremost the gift to live in the moment and not remain stuck in thoughts about the future. When it comes to cooking Japan taught me not to alter the ingredients but to preserve their quality and original taste.

L.L. / In summer 2018 you went abroad as well and decided to cook in Denmark once again. Which restaurant did you work for and what challenges were you looking forward to the most?

M.B. / I got to spend the summer at Restaurant Kadeau on the wonderful island of Bornholm where it was all about pickling, fermenting, and preserving.

L.L. / You don’t just have a passion for cooking, you also like to write. You’ve written articles for the travel magazine Bregenzerwald and Alpmagazin. What are your texts about and how do you even have the time to write?

M.B. / I only have very little time, unfortunately, but when I do find the time the texts usually are about cooking and my thoughts on people, eating, and cooking.

L.L. / When winter in Lech Zürs shows off its finest colours, where can we find you? Provided that you’re not busy in the kitchen?

M.B. / On the slopes, I love the skiing area around Lech. It gives me new energy; energy that I need in the kitchen. The fresh air and the feeling of gliding through nature on skis simply elates and inspires me.

©Nina Keinrath
©Nina Keinrath

Milena Broger

Milena Broger from Vorarlberg is only in her mid-twenties but already among today’s most talented young chefs where she stands for alpine cuisine. She trained at the Tourism College in Bezau, Vorarlberg. After numerous internships and experiences in the kitchens of renowned restaurants in Austria, Germany, Italy, Liechtenstein, Japan, and Denmark she now is the passionate chef de cuisine at Klösterle in Lech/Zug where she works alongside Eva-Maria Walch.

Milena Broger's Wordrap

Travelling means…

discovering myself and the world.

My favourite dish:

Every dish that’s made well and with love.

Team player or lone wolf?

Thanks to my work in Denmark, I’ve become a team player.

Strawberries in winter…

really aren’t my thing. I think we should use what’s in season.

Tradition is…

the root that keeps me grounded.

Success means…

being happy in the moment and making many people happy with my cooking.