“Chef of the Century” Eckart Witzigmann turns 80.

Media Information 2 July 2021

BMW Group congratulates Eckart Witzigmann on his birthday Award ceremony ECKART 2021 to take place in October 2021 

Munich. The BMW Group and „Chef of the Century” Eckart Witzigmann have been allied in their shared commitment to the art of cooking, deliberate consumption and social responsibility for a long time. This year, the BMW Group will honour its companion of many years on the occasion of his important anniversary and present the jubilarian with a unusual gift – a ECKART Symposium. Following the theme “What does sustainability taste like?“ a series of several panel debates featuring first-class experts will focus on important questions of our time.

Ilka Horstmeier, Member of the Board of Management at BMW AG, Human Resources and Labour Relations Director, commented on the special anniversary, „Happy birthday, dear Mr Witzigmann! Our symposium is just a little token of our appreciation to mark our long-standing partnership. From its inception, we have kept in mind our common goal, namely the promotion of healthy eating, sustainable culinary art and responsible use of resources and continue to work towards it to this day. Good, healthy food that is produced and prepared in a sustainable manner is one of the greatest challenges of our time. A challenge that reflects how we at the BMW Group understand and live sustainability. New impulses are key to company catering and fine dining alike. Hand in hand, we are developing and promoting ideas to ensure real change. I would like to express my most sincere gratitude to Mr Witzigmann for his continued commitment to the cause.”

Hosted by Dr Christoph Wirtz, editor in chief at restaurant guide Gault&Millau Germany, the very first interdisciplinary round table on quality and sustainability will be a platform for debate welcoming participants head of human resources Ilka Horstmeier, Norbert Niederkofler, winner of the ECKART 2020 for innovation and Steffi Czerny, CEO DLD Media GmbH. “Quality” has an interesting double meaning. Used in its literal sense, the term denotes the sum of all qualities of any given product. As users, however, we tend to interpret the term as having a value and attach it to upmarket and premium products. If we furthermore combine the term “quality” with the idea of sustainability, we also bring into question its origin, the way it was produced and the social conditions surrounding its production, its transport and sale as well as its final use and processing. The same is true for food products and vehicles and even digital products. At the roundtable, the participants will explore at what point food and other products can be considered sustainable and what exactly that implies. And if sustainability is to be understood as the basis of new, circular business activities, there is a need to develop new business models.

In the next panel Martin Straubinger, head of BMW Group Company Catering, Barbara Jung-Arntz, journalist, and Jürgen Mäder, CEO Edeka Südwest, will debate a range of issues including transport routes, distribution, quality and cost of our food. Mr Straubinger said, “In line with our overall strategy regarding sustainability at the BMW Group, the department of company catering is a proactive agent in the process and continuously improves its relevant practices. To that end, we routinely examine all processes such as the local sourcing of products, animal welfare, the optimisation of delivery routes and the use of sustainable materials as well as the reduction and prevention of waste. No small feat, keeping in mind the enormous number of meals – 42,000 – that cross our counters every day at the various BMW locations in both Germany and Austria.”

The third panel will feature Jürgen Molter, head of catering at the BMW sites in Dingolfing, Regensburg, Landshut and Steyr, Nathalie Leblond, head chef at restaurant “Les Deux”, Dr Stefan Hartmann, president of the German Institute of Company Catering (DIG) and Patrick Auer, head of company catering at the Bavarian Association of Insurers debating the similarities and differences of fine dining and company catering. What expectations do they need to meet respectively and what can the two disciplines learn from each other? At the end of the day, fine dining is most appreciated where people make the choice of eating both healthy and well and where most meals cross the counter – at staff canteens.

In the final panel, Maximilian Schöberl, Head of BMW Group Corporate and Intergovernmental Affairs, and Eckart Witzigmann will talk about a future collaboration close to their heart launched on the occasion of the 80th birthday of the “Chef of the Century”. Donated by the ECKART Academy, named after the century chef Eckart Witzigmann, and endowed with a prize money of 50,000 Euro by the BMW Group, the ECKART 2021 will be awarded to a pioneering project. The project was co-founded by the oncological center of excellence Klinik Bad Trissl, a major partner of Munich’s universities as well as Bavaria’s leading treatment center for tumor patients and Munich’s most awarded chef Jan Hartwig. Together, they harness their expertise in fine dining to develop healthy diets for both patients and staff.

To give an initial boost to the project, Prof Dr Volkmar Nüssler (MD), Executive Coordinator at Munich Tumor Centre (TMZ), responsible for the medical side of “Proof of Concept”, will provide scientific support while the business side of the project will be headed by Prof Dr Nicole Graf, Chancellor of DHBW university.

The symposium will be recorded prior to the 80th anniversary of Eckart Witzigmann and made available online at https://eckart-foodlab.com.


The BMW Group and ECKART Academy have been partners since 2012 and together they award the Eckart Witzigmann Prize for outstanding achievements in the field of gastronomy. Based on their shared commitment to healthy eating, sustainable cuisine and the responsible use of resources, the partnership supports social and sustainable projects. Previous winners of the award includeDaniel Boulud, HRH Charles Prince of Wales, Elena Arzak, Anne-Sophie Pic, Harald Wohlfahrt, Dieter Kosslick, Ferran Adrià, Marc Haeberlin, Joël Robuchon, Alex Atala, Jon Rose, Mick Hucknall, Massimo Bottura, Dominique Crenn, Andreas Caminada, Tiffany Persons, María Marte and Alain Ducasse. This year’s award ceremony for the ECKART 2021 will take place in October 2021.

If you have any questions, please contact:

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Email: daria.nikitina@bmw.de

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Email: angela.konert@bmw.de

Telephone: +49-89-382-50591

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Email: presse@bmwgroup.com

The BMW Group

With its four brands BMW, MINI, Rolls-Royce and BMW Motorrad, the BMW Group is the world’s leading premium manufacturer of automobiles and motorcycles and also provides premium financial and mobility services. The BMW Group production network comprises 31 production and assembly facilities in 15 countries; the company has a global sales network in more than 140 countries.

In 2020, the BMW Group sold over 2.3 million passenger vehicles and more than 169,000 motorcycles worldwide. The profit before tax in the financial year 2019 was € 7.118 billion on revenues amounting to € 104.210 billion. As of 31 December 2019, the BMW Group had a workforce of 126,016 employees.

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The Int. Eckart Witzigmann Prize ECKART has been awarded since 2004 for outstanding achievements in gastronomy and beyond. Healthy nutrition, sustainable culinary practices and responsible use of resources are among the goals of the ECKART Academy and its partners.

In order to further pursue this goal, symposia will be held in the course of the ECKART since 2019, which will comprehensively illuminate current topics.

In 2021, this symposium will take place digitally for the first time and will discuss “What does sustainability taste like?” with numerous guests from theory and practice.

Previous award winners include Massimo Bottura, Dominique Crenn, Ferran Adrià, Alain Ducasse, Joël Robuchon, Alex Atala, HRH Charles Prince of Wales, Elena Arzak, Anne-Sophie Pic, Marc Haeberlin, Harald Wohlfahrt, Andreas Caminada, Heinz Reitbauer family, Mick Hucknall, Tiffany Persons, María Marte, Günter Grass, Dieter Kosslick, Daniel Boulud, Jon Rose and many others.

In Memorial Pierre Troisgros

After the restaurant was founded in 1930 by Jean-Baptiste and Marie Troisgros, the next generation, along with Pierre and Jean, was one of the leading chefs of the great departure of nouvelle cuisine. The Troisgros family is one of the pioneers and pioneers of this new direction. They are still true to the idea today, especially to their most important principle: not to remain in tradition, but to be ready to reinvent themselves again and again.

We extend our sincere condolences to his family, friends and staff. Au revoir CHEF …


Max Strohe mit Ilona Scholl (ECKART 2020 FÜR KREATIVE VERANTWORTUNG), Myrtha Zierock (ECKART 2020 FÜR LEBENSKULTUR), TIM MÄLZER (ECKART 2020 – PRIX d’EXCEPTION), CARLO PETRINI (ECKART 2020 – ALUMNI), Eckart Witzigmann, Norbert Niederkofler (ECKART 2020 FÜR INNOVATION), JOHANNES NUDING (ECKART 2020 FÜR GROSSE KOCH-KUNST) INTERNATIONALER ECKART_WITZIGMANN PREIS 2020 im NOI – Nature of Innovation – Techpark, Bozen am 06.09.2020 Agency People Image (c) Michael Tinnefeld

Press release 10.9.2020

On September 6 and 7, 2020, the futuristic NOI Techpark was the venue for ECKART 2020. Six of the coveted awards and an exciting symposium set the tone for the future. In a welcome address by Governor Dr. Arno Kompatscher and the chef of the century Eckart Witzigmann, the eponym of the award emphasized how much he had missed personal encounters in recent months. Despite the strict Corona rules, he managed to produce what Eckart Witzigmann, in addition to his culinary art and excellent products, always considers most important: human closeness. Before the prizes were awarded in the large, airy crane hall, political journalist Jan Fleischhauer provided an entertaining and trenchant “Apéritif”. In his witty introduction he impaled contradictions and oddities of current eating habits, which often take on an ideological character.

The awards ceremony was moderated by the new editor-in-chief of Gault&Millau Restaurant-Guide Deutschland, Dr. Christoph Wirtz, accompanied by Munich’s top chef Jan Hartwig and the ECKART prizewinner for Life Culture of 2016, Sommelière Melanie Wagner (Schwarzer Adler, Oberbergen). This year’s award for GREAT CULINARY ART went to Parisian chef icon Pierre Gagnaire and his young Austrian partner Johannes Nuding (The Lecture Room & Library at sketch), who won the 3rd Michelin star in London in 2020. Unfortunately Gagnaire was unable to attend, but Johannes Nuding thanked him with a strong speech and at the symposium the next day he gave a deep insight into his culinary art in an exciting exchange of blows with the future Executive Chef of Tantris, Matthias Hahn.

JOHANNES NUDING (ECKART 2020 FÜR GROSSE KOCH-KUNST) INTERNATIONALER ECKART_WITZIGMANN PREIS 2020 im NOI – Nature of Innovation – Techpark, Bozen am 06.09.2020 Agency People Image (c) Michael Tinnefeld

The South Tyrolean celebrity chef Norbert Niederkofler, who received the ECKART 2020 FOR INNOVATION, was visibly pleased about the award, which is highly regarded among chefs.
The ECKART FOR CULTURE OF LIFE was awarded to the young Trentino organic farmer Myrtha Zierock for her innovative concept of cultivating vegetables and herbs between the vines in South Tyrol in order to make good use of the scarce space and increase diversity. The excellent quality of her products has made her a sought-after address for numerous chefs.

Norbert Niederkofler (ECKART 2020 FÜR INNOVATION) INTERNATIONALER ECKART_WITZIGMANN PREIS 2020 im NOI – Nature of Innovation – Techpark, Bozen am 06.09.2020 Agency People Image (c) Michael Tinnefeld
Myrtha Zierock (ECKART 2020 FÜR LEBENSKULTUR) INTERNATIONALER ECKART_WITZIGMANN PREIS 2020 im NOI – Nature of Innovation – Techpark, Bozen am 06.09.2020 Agency People Image (c) Michael Tinnefeld

ECKART broke new ground with the awards for CREATIVE RESPONSIBILITY and the PRIX D’EXCEPTION. The former was awarded the “#kochenfürhelden” campaign, which was initiated by Berlin-based Ilona Scholl and Max Strohe (tulus lotrek). The winner of the PRIX D’EXCEPTION brought the hall to a boil with his brilliant performance: Tim Mälzer pleaded for an active support of the gastronomy by politics.

TIM MÄLZER (ECKART 2020 – PRIX d’EXCEPTION), Christoph Wirtz (Gault&Millau) INTERNATIONALER ECKART_WITZIGMANN PREIS 2020 im NOI – Nature of Innovation – Techpark, Bozen am 06.09.2020 Agency People Image (c) Michael Tinnefeld
Max Strohe mit Ilona Scholl (ECKART 2020 FÜR KREATIVE VERANTWORTUNG) INTERNATIONALER ECKART_WITZIGMANN PREIS 2020 im NOI – Nature of Innovation – Techpark, Bozen am 06.09.2020 Agency People Image (c) Michael Tinnefeld
Continue reading ““ECKART 2020” SHOWS NEW WAYS FOR A NEW ERA.”



Pierre Gagnaire has reinterpreted the cuisine .

Born on April 9, 1950 in Apinac, France, Pierre Gagnaire is one of the most creative, original and crazy top chefs of the present day.
Gagnaire’s father Jean-Claude Gagnaire runs the café and restaurant “Le Clos Fleuri” in Saint-Priest-en-Jarez near Saint- Étienne. Pierre worked there as a pastry chef and took a course at the Pâtisserie Nelson in Saint-Étienne in 1964. In 1965 he took part in a summer internship at Paul Bocuse and then began training at Raoul Desprez in the “Chez Juliette” restaurant in Lyon. He then becomes chef in the restaurant “Aunt Alice” in Lyon. In 1970, during his military service, Gagnaire worked as a Cuisinier admiral (head chef) in the officers’ galley on the former French destroyer “Surcouf”. Further stations followed, such as 1973 in Paris as Chef de Partie in the “Hotel Intercontinental” and at Alain Senderens in the “Lucas Carton”. After a two-year journey across America with his wife Gabrielle, he returned to his father’s restaurant in 1976. There he developed his own style with a cuisine characterized by local products.

His futuristic visions do not fit into any scheme. Often he is admired for his amazing combinations, often they cause controversy, but no one is indifferent to them. “Cooking,” says Pierre Gagnaire, “is not measured by tradition or modernity. You have to read in it the tenderness of the cook.”
Although his cuisine is based on tradition, he developed his own signature early on, with uninhibitedly contradictory tastes, textures and ingredients. In his restaurant in Saint-Étienne, which opened in 1981 and was awarded three stars in 1994, he cooks for himself a world-renowned chef. In doing so, he exerts himself in every respect. At the end of 1996, Gagnaire made a new start in Paris, experienced a brilliant rise and today more than 20 restaurants in eight countries bear his name, including the “Pierre Gagnaire” in Paris and the restaurant “The Lecture Room & Library” in “sketch” in London, which was awarded with three Michelin stars.

Millicent Fawcett Room

Pierre Gagnaire offers great culinary art at the very highest level – “he has,” the jury said in its statement, “reinterpreted the kitchen. The unusual partnership with Johannes Nuding proves that, contrary to the cliché, top chefs are also outstanding team players. 

Johannes Nuding – the signature of the next generation

Johannes Nuding, who comes from Tyrol, is one of the great experts of our time. After his training at the hotelier school Villa Blanka in Austria he worked in simple kitchens in the Alps before he moved to Paris in 2006. He first worked in Joël Robuchon’s 2-star restaurant “La table” before moving to Pierre Gagnaire. He worked in his restaurant for three years until Gagnaire offered the 25-year-old the chef’s job at “Les Menu” in Moscow. There they began to develop menus together.
In 2014 Gagnaire brings him to London and he gets a “carte blanche” to develop the restaurant in “sketch”. He succeeds with bravura and takes the restaurant to a new level. Nuding further develops the French cuisine and skilfully integrates regional elements from his Austrian homeland. “We always ate well at home,” says Nuding. “My grandmother was an amazing cook. We had nothing fancy, no truffles or Foie Gras. It was the simple things she cooked with love. We had a huge garden behind the house with radishes, beans and cauliflower. My mother went out and picked the vegetables. She cooked for lunch and we sat down for an hour. Then we had dinner together. We always sat down for breakfast, lunch and dinner. There was no television, no telephone, it was a time when we ate and enjoyed each other’s company. This attitude characterizes Johannes Nuding’s kitchen. It focuses on the basics. In 2019 he will be awarded three Michelin stars for his creations – the first Austrian chef since Eckart Witzigmann. 

“Gagnaire and Nuding,” the jury said, “offer their guests an extravagant, luxurious, whimsical and theatrical experience that appeals to all the senses. The teamwork of the two sensitive individualists is a unique exception: it gives new, trend-setting impulses to the art of cooking and creates an incomparable experience”. 

Continue reading “ECKART 2020 – EXCELLENT CULINARY ART”



photocredit: EventoLive

A pioneer for nutrition and enjoyment of the future

Like no other he combines theory and practice. His theme: correcting the misguided development of industrialized agriculture and nutrition. His new concept culminated in 1986 in the creation of the organization “Slow Food”, which now has over 100,000 members in a good 150 countries on all continents.
Its aim is nothing less than a revolution in agriculture and food. The credo “good, clean and fair” brings the movement’s claim to the point. A particularly important aspect of Carlo Petrini’s work is the emphasis on taste in discussions about nutrition. He understands it as a cultural, individual and social perception, postulates accordingly a right to pleasure and sees quality as its prerequisite.

For Carlo Petrini, the most important means to achieve all these goals are regionally based and organic farming, the preservation of biodiversity and the appreciation of culinary cultures. 

Carlo Petrini is still today the decisive and tireless driving force behind Slow Food. But his activities go far beyond the scope of this organization. This is evidenced, for example, by the creation of the “Salone del Gusto” of the “Università di Scienze Gastronomiche”, the “Cheese” cheese festival in Bra and the “Terra Madre” farmers’ network. 

“Carlo Petrini,” writes the jury of the ECKART ACADEMY in its reasons for awarding the prize, “reconciles opposites with his creative dialectic, thus changing our awareness and showing us how we ourselves can create a new and better reality. 

Continue reading “ECKART 2020 – ALUMNI”



photocredit: Philipp Rathmer

A powerful voice for gastronomy 

One of Tim Mälzer’s great qualities is his powerful language. Due to its television formats, he has attracted a great attention to cooking and he succeeds in grounding the often unworldly discussions about haute cuisine and bringing its substance to many people.
In the pandemic that broke out in 2019, Tim Mälzer became the strongest advocate of the threatened and certainly systemically important gastronomy. With strong arguments and great passion, he draws attention to the situation in several widely circulated statements, talks personally to those responsible and opens their eyes. The jobs are particularly close to his heart.
Tim Mälzer, according to the jury, “becomes the mouthpiece for German gastronomy, launches a protest action and sends a strong message to politicians. His attitude is particularly effective because he succeeds in combining strong arguments with authentic emotionality.

Beyond that the cook supports those, which are particularly loaded, places its team into the service of “#kochenfürhelden”, brings the project to Hamburg and supplies there hospitals, pharmacies or supermarkets. 

Ilona Scholl, Max Strohe and Tim Mälzer show exemplary ways out of the crisis. They courageously develop new concepts and make themselves an effective mouthpiece for the young German gastronomy. In doing so, they help themselves, support other people and reach a large audience as well as political leaders. Their commitment ensures that gastronomy is perceived for what it is: one of the most important cultural achievements of modern civilization. 

Continue reading “ECKART 2020 – PRIX d’EXCEPTION”



On the way to a new culture of life 

The pandemic that broke out in 2019 is leading the catering industry worldwide into an incomparable crisis that threatens its very existence. Restaurants everywhere have to close down, sometimes for long periods, and there is no replacement for the lost sales. Numerous chefs on all continents are looking for new ways. The innovative restaurant “tulus lotrek” by Ilona Scholl and Maximilian Strohe, decorated with a Michelin star, has to close down in this crisis, as well as the entire gastronomy. Founded in 2015, the restaurant has until then profiled itself as one of the most promising representatives of a young, German gastronomy, which combines an original and excellent cuisine with a fresh, warm and stylish hospitality.

When their restaurant had to close, Ilona Scholl and Maximilian Strohe initiated a project that within weeks grew into one of the largest and most impressive networks. They call “#kochenfürhelden” into being to help above all those people who are in the front line in the pandemic: Doctors, medical assistants, sales assistants and many more. With good, digestible and high-quality food, they take the term “restaurant” literally and “restore” those people “who ensure that our lives can continue under the current circumstances”.

“In crises,” the jury said, “we are encouraged by people who develop creative ideas to help themselves and others. Such activities are even more impressive when they overcome barriers and find new ways. This is creative responsibility, which is especially necessary when circumstances throw people back to themselves and their elementary needs. 




Myrtha Zierock reinvents agriculture with her start-up in the vineyard

The basis for good food is good products. Growing these in South Tyrol comes up against natural limits due to the regional conditions. Myrtha Zierock makes a virtue out of the misery of the rare terrain. Like Norbert Niederkofler, she receives the decisive impulse for this from afar. During her studies in Canada, she learns that the vegetation and growth phases there are very short and must be used to the maximum.

Back in South Tyrol, she begins to use the narrow areas between the vines and grows salad and vegetables there. This proves to be costly and time-intensive, but yields products of first-class quality. To market her produce, she sets up a farm market and sells her produce directly to numerous chefs. In dialogue with customers, she improves and refines her range of products, which includes chard, Asian salads, carrots, tomatoes, fennel, zucchinis and herbs. 

After a short time the demand increases. Since the capacities are limited, Myrtha Zierock takes a new way also here. Instead of adopting the conventional mechanisms and delivering the goods over long distances, she exports the method and encourages interested parties in other regions to adapt their experience.

“Myrtha Zierock”, as the jury justified the awarding of the prize, ” She is the impulse generator of a new, sustainable agriculture with her start-up in the vineyard,”. Her concept is forward-looking: she consistently focuses on quality, modernizes traditional methods and experiences and initiates the network of sustainable agriculture through her export.

Continue reading “ECKART 2020 – ART OF LIVING”



photocredit @ Alex Moling

Norbert Niederkofler turns „Alpine cuisine“ to a trademark. Niederkofler, born on 16 September 1961 in Luttach in South Tyrol, turns „Alpine cuisine“ to a trademark. After his education in South Tyrol, he gained experience at Alfons Schuhbeck in Waging am See, at Jörg Müller on Sylt, at Eckart Witzigmann in Munich, at David Bouley in London and at several other stations.

During this time he not only expanded his craftsmanship, but became more and more aware of the qualities of his homeland. He return back to South Tyrol, where he opens the restaurant “St. Hubertus” in 1994. There he develops a style which he calls “Alpine cuisine”. The chef follows the “rhythm of nature” and develops his dishes “always around the product”. The result is a modern cuisine at the highest level, rooted in the region. In 2001 he received the first Michelin star for this, in 2006 the second and in 2017 – as the only restaurant in South Tyrol – the third Michelin star. Consistently regional and fully utilised products of the highest quality form the basis of his culinary art. Sustainable cultivation, its social consequences and respect for products and producers are important to him. “Norbert Niederkofler,” said the jury in its statement, “stands for the most modern and currently most innovative regional cuisine.

Continue reading “ECKART 2020 – INNOVATION”