Witzigmann Academy and the BMW Group honour ECKART 2016 award winners Award ceremony at BMW Group Classic with outstanding gala dinner

Munich. The international world of haute cuisine gathered at BMW Group Classic in Munich last Tuesday for a special occasion: “Chef of the century” Eckart Witzigmann presented the ECKART 2016 named after him to Dominique Crenn, Andreas Caminada, Sebastian Copeland and the Munich Viktualienmarkt. An honorary award was also received by Julia and Tobias Moretti. In just over ten years, the International Eckart Witzigmann Award, ECKART for short, has established itself as one of the highest accolades for outstanding achievements in the art of cookery and fine dining. This was the fifth year the award has been presented in conjunction with the BMW Group.

For the first time, the ECKART was presented at the new BMW Group Classic. The roughly 13,000-square-metre property located at Moosacher Strasse 66 is also home to one of the young company’s very first production halls. In its centenary year, the BMW Group chose to return to its historic roots. As Maximilian Schöberl, head of BMW Group Corporate and Governmental Affairs, underlined in his welcoming remarks, it provides “a worthy setting for celebrating 75 years of Eckart Witzigmann and the 100th anniversary of the BMW Group”. Schöberl hosted the evening together with presenter Verena Wriedt.

The collaboration between the BMW Group and the Witzigmann Academy creates a platform for responsibility in the restaurant trade. Dr. Friedrich Eichiner, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, responsible for Finance, and patron of the event, emphasised the importance of the ECKART: “With Eckart Witzigmann and the Witzigmann Academy, we have succeeded in providing fresh impetus. Today, the ECKART is one of the most prestigious awards in the culinary world. Sustainable haute cuisine, responsible handling of food products and exceptional commitment to promoting young talent – that is what the name Eckart Witzigmann stands for.” He continued: “We have shown that ‘Sheer Driving Pleasure’ and culinary pleasure go well together. We appeal to people who seek and value what is special – and we both define ‘premium’ primarily through responsibility and sustainability.”

The evening was also a very special occasion for Eckart Witzigmann: “It is important that we actively shape change in our society. The focus has returned to authenticity and originality, with the product the star. Those who serve this aim should be commended. I would also like to thank the BMW Group for making this evening possible.”

The BMW Group also benefits from the collaboration with Eckart Witzigmann. A good example of this is “NAHtürlich”, the BMW Group’s catering pilot project, which brings innovative, regional and seasonal dishes to the menu for BMW Group employees. Specifically, since early June, BMW Group staff at the Research and Innovation Centre in Munich have had access to a food station that only serves meals made from in-season, regional products, animal-welfare-friendly production and sustainable fisheries. “We want to empower our employees to have an active and positive impact on their nutrition. That is part of our corporate responsibility,” explained Milagros Caiña-Andree, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, responsible for Human Resources, during the award ceremony.

The subsequent gala dinner in honour of the award winners offered a new interpretation of Eckart Witzigmann’s classic dishes under the direction of Martin Fauster, chef de cuisine at the Hotel Königshof in Munich.

ECKART 2016 award winners
ECKART 2016 for the Art of Cookery: Andreas Caminada, Fürstenau, Switzerland.

At 33 years of age, Andreas Caminada became Switzerland’s youngest three-star chef and has maintained this high standard at his restaurant at Schloss Schauenstein in Fürstenau since 2010. The top chef from the canton of Graubünden focuses on the original flavour of seasonal alpine products. Unexpected combinations and methods of presentation ultimately unite all elements to form a culinary whole. “Cooking is a skill anyone can learn,” believes Caminada. Since 2016, his foundation “Fundaziun Uccelin” (Romansh for “little bird”) has nurtured individual chef and service talents from home and abroad with the aim of guaranteeing high-quality Swiss cuisine over the long term.

Eckart Witzigmann paid tribute to the three-star chef: “The future is rooted in the past – and the future of gastronomy will depend to a large extent on young talents. This is an area that has been neglected in the past – which makes Andreas Caminda’s courageous commitment to the next generation all the more important.”

ECKART 2016 for Innovation: Dominique Crenn, San Francisco, USA

Dominique Crenn combines creativity with tremendous culinary craftsmanship and an inner love of precision. She firmly believes that food can move people in the same way as a poem, a song or a painting. The menu proposed by French-born Crenn is a poem in itself, with individual dishes barely hinted at with names such as “Walking deep in the woods”, “The rawness of those soft, swimming creatures” or “As the earth might have something to spare”.

In 2012, Crenn became the first female chef in the United States to earn two Michelin stars for her “Atelier Crenn”. In 2016, she was named the “world’s best female chef” in “The World’s 50 Best Restaurants” list.

Eckart Witzigmann is a huge admirer of her work and Crenn expressed her thanks “for the tremendous inspiration and passion for haute cuisine that I was able to share with Eckart Witzigmann.”

ECKART 2016 for Art of Living: the Munich Viktualienmarkt

With around 112 sellers of top-quality food items, delicacies and flowers, the Munich Viktualienmarkt is a flagship for the city. Around 30 retailers also import a broad range of exotic delicacies to the Bavarian capital. Eckart Witzigmann: “The Viktualienmarkt has always been a source of inspiration for me – a place where you find time for a lively conversation. Top-quality products form the basis for good food – and that is what you find above all else at the Viktualienmarkt.”

Representing the market as a whole were Elke Fett, from the dried-flower stand “Duftschmankerl”, Manuela Wilkerson, from “Teltschik’s sausage stand”, and Marina Bröckelt, from the delicatessen “Marina’s Feinkost”. Fett: “We are delighted that international cuisine at the highest level is committed to regional and local products. We are proud of the work we do and where we are from.”

ECKART 2016 for Creative Responsibility and Enjoyment (endowed by the BMW Group with 10,000 euros): Sebastian Copeland, Los Angeles, USA

Sebastian Copeland is a polar explorer, environmental activist, adventurer and award-winning photographer. He has addressed the United Nations and World Affairs Council and released books and films explicitly warning against the impact of climate change – in the Polar regions and around the world.

Following his crossing of the Simpson Desert in Australia in August 2016, Copeland will embark on the second phase of his expedition in February 2017 – traveling from the Canadian mainland to the North Pole across the ice on skis. In an emotional speech, Copeland explained that this will probably be the last opportunity to do so, since the Arctic icecap has shrunk by more than half over the past 30 years, making future crossings impossible.

“My camera allows me to show people the beauty of our planet – and its fragility. If people can fall in love with our world all over again, it is easier to persuade them to preserve it. It is important to provide a forum for changing how we treat our environment. With this award, Eckart Witzigmann and the BMW Group are part of that change,” said Sebastian Copeland in thanks.

HONORARY AWARD: Julia and Tobias Moretti, Ranggen, Austria

Actor Tobias Morretti and his wife, Julia, lead a secluded life on a 400-year-old mountain farm on 35 hectares in Tyrol. The “Omesberg” in Ranggen lies south of Innsbruck at an altitude of eight hundred metres. The couple is actively involved in regional value creation, striving for a long-term increase in general quality awareness and to preserve biodiversity through traditional breeds. For example, the Morettis raise Tyrol’s oldest breed of cattle, the “Tux-Zillertaler”.

Eckart Witzimann praised the couple in his speech: “The Morettis run their farm the way it should be. That is sustainability in its best possible form.”

“This award is a great honour for us – but, most of all, it is a call for us to continue in the same direction,” said Julia Moretti in her thank-you speech. Her husband Tobias Moretti firmly believes there is a future for alpine agriculture: “We were frustrated that even though originality and authenticity have become buzzwords for modern society, it has not been possible to live from that kind of agriculture until now. We wanted to come up with an alternative concept: I think we succeeded.”