Close this search box.

Lets talk...

Editor editor@i-m-magazine.com
Creative Director design@i-m-magazine.com
Advertising Sales Director advertising@i-m-magazine.com

Viki Fuchs

Mad cooking in the heart of the Black Forest

Chef de cuisine Viktoria “Viki” Fuchs is the sixth generation to run the Romantik Hotel and Spielweg restaurant in Germany’s upper Münstertal. But she’s doing it her way – with sister, Kristin; husband, Johannes, and a fresh, Asian twist.

“Wild boar dim sum,” says Viki of the meal guests request most – her signature dish. “I mean, it’s not soooo far away from our Maultaschen,” she adds. Pasta-pockets of Swabian culture, filled with onion and smoked meats. “Normally, they are braised in butter; but we use rice dough and steam them to serve with soy sauce.” That’s Viki on a plate: bright, creative, rooted, cosmopolitan. She combines the best of the Black Forest with flavours from the Far East.

“I’m just carrying on from my father,” is one of JRE-Jeunes Restaurateurs’ youngest, female members’ modest response. “What he did was new.” Karl-Josef, a hunter-chef, took over the Spielweg restaurant in 1986 and quickly forged its reputation for exceptional game-cooking. “He was a pioneer of the ‘regional’ thing,” Viki explains. “He was doing 25 years ago what the Nordic chefs showed 10 or 15 years later.” Source quality ingredients locally; synch with the seasons, celebrate what surrounds you.

Viki with the family’s herd of Hinterwälder cows, native to the region. Their milk is used to produce their three varieties of cheese.

Viki’s dad even built his own cheese factory in the hotel grounds. Today, it makes and matures three types of cheese on-site. “We use the milk from Hinterwälder cows,” she says. This native breed leads a pampered life in rich pastures 1,000 metres above sea-level, much like Romantik’s guests. “Ja, this is a special place!” laughs Viki. “There is nothing fast or loud.” Except, perhaps, the “hectic” activity in her kitchen – part of a parish guesthouse that dates back to 1705. “Our hotel is quite rare,” she says, “because of our food.” One look at the menu confirms why: it’s a non-stop feast of conviviality. “It starts with breakfast… the homemade marmalade and sourdough bread. And then maybe lunch of fresh sashimi or wurst salad.” For dinner, if you’ve got room, there’s Spielweg’s venison blood sausage with octopus. “In Barcelona, I tried pulpo con chorizo,” Viki recalls. It was so good, I created my own version.”

Travel clearly inspires her as much as her original mentors: Dad and Douce Steiner. From the age of 16, Viki spent three years with this two-Michelin-starred chef, completing an “Ausbildung” apprenticeship at the Hirschenrestaurantin Sulzburg. It proved her foundation. “The business was run by a woman and her family,” says Viki in a summary that echoes hers. “Nobody was doing that then! This was a hundred percent French cuisine: the techniques, the recipes… All produce came from France and we were taught how to use everything; there was no waste.” Those weren’t the only lessons learned: “Douce had a lot of heart for her food and her employees.”

The cosy interior of the Spielweg restaurant, where Viki showcases the best and “maddest” of her dishes.

Professional moves to Le Canard in Hamburg and Landhaus St. Urban in Naurath followed; each evolving Viki’s gastronomic repertoire. Colleagues at Luce D’Oro in Krün’s Schloss Elmau changed it forever: “I worked with two Thai sisters who shared the real ways of making Asian stocks and sauces,” she explains.

Time spent abroad brought something else to the table: ideas. “I studied in Cape Town, where I got my first experiences with curries,” Viki smiles. Thailand, Bali and New Zealand all fed her love of eating “the Asian way”. “The different spices and lighter broths go perfectly with strong meats like wild boar and deer,” she tells me, “and also with our regional vegetables.” Meet Viki’s “Fuchsteufelswildstyle of cooking. Literally-translated, it means “mad as hell”. Think smoked, Scottish salmon in pumpkin-ginger broth; or house ramen and neighbour, Hofgut Silva’s suckling pig; or pink-roasted venison dressed with tom kha and mango…

Viki took over the Spielweg kitchen in 2016, when her father fell seriously ill. She was 26. “It was not easy…” is her shorthand recollection. But guests soon appreciated her presence, as she did theirs. Many are like extended family: “Some have maybe been visiting for 25 years,” says Viki. “And they stay for four or five days.” How did they react to her inventive additions, I wonder. “On day one, they asked: ‘Why is this steamer here?’ On day two, they saw other guests enjoying wild boar dim sum with chopsticks. On day three, they were telling me: ‘This is a step forward! This is great!’

Karl-Josef has since recovered, and now leads the hunt for the restaurant’s game in the Southern Black Forest Nature Park – just one contribution to its Michelin Green Star status. “We have such a big responsibility to our environment, this beautiful environment, and the people who are working in it,” Viki says. Her menu teems with ingredients found or farmed within miles of her stoves, including herbs and flowers from mother, Sabine’s garden. “Without her and my grandmother, this place would be a huge chaos…” Their strong influence – amplified by Douce Steiner’s – simmers as Viki awaits the birth of her first child: “I want to show that it is possible have this career as a woman and also be a wife, a mother, my own person.”

Three of Viki’s Fuchsteufelswild dishes. From the left: Hand-chopped wild deer tartare with poached quail egg and braised parsnip; Mushroom carpaccio with chervil, parmesan and olive oil; and Salad soup of watermelon and octopus.

Spend five minutes with her, and you sense she’ll succeed. Viki’s passion is real. Her second cookbook is being readied; more “fun, challenging” TV work awaits in the wings, and she’s taken her “Fuchsteufelswild” brand of fine dining to the Ritz-Carlton Maldives. But family and tradition remain her priorities: “At Spielweg, there is this feeling of ‘coming home’; for me and guests equally.” The same applies to kitchen staff, which embraces 11 young cooks on an “Ausbildung” of their own. “We sit down for meals together every day,” she says. Food, for Viki, is family: “It’s the basic connection you have when you eat with people around you. Always with a good glass of wine…”

Neither she northe Romantik hotel are going anywhere soon. “We have always been here, and we will always be here.”

Viki, let’s drink to that!



Words: Richard Lieberman

Show Comments +

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *