Chef Kurt Gutenbrunner
Kurt's passion for food has been a constant throughout his life. While growing up with garden-fresh cooking in a small village on the Danube River, he decided, at age 15, that he wanted to become a chef. He promptly enrolled in a professional hotel and restaurant school and obtained a degree in culinary arts two years later. At the age of 16, he apprenticed at the Relais et Chateau Richard Löwenherz in the Wachau region, where he developed an appreciation for the wine of that region. These wines are still featured in his restaurants today. Kurt then journeyed to Switzerland to work at Crans Montan in the Wallis Valley before heading to Vienna to work with Chef Werner Matt at the Rotisserie Prinz Eugen. Under Chef Matt, who is frequently credited with developing modern Austrian cuisine, he helped earn the restaurant its first Michelin star.
Kurt moved on to Tantris, a Michelin three-star restaurant that is considered Munich’s finest. He later was recruited to work at the renowned restaurant Windows of the World’s Cellar in the Sky. He worked there for one year before joining David Bouley as part of the talented team that helped the restaurant upgrade their New York Times review from two to four stars. Kurt’s next position was in Germany as chef de cuisine at Bistro Terrine, a true French bistro that had been dismantled and reassembled in Munich by Tantris owner Fritz Eichbauer. After three years at Bistro Terrine, Kurt found himself eager to expand his knowledge of exotic cuisine. He began working at Munich’s Mangostin, a contemporary Asian-influenced restaurant, where he supervised a staff of 25 Thai and Vietnamese cooks -- experts in the indigenous ingredients and techniques of Eastern cuisine. After six years in Germany, he returned to New York to become culinary director of David Bouley’s expanding enterprise. He was eventually named executive chef at Monkey Bar, where he became known for his inspired seafood dishes.
By venturing out on his own, Kurt was able to take all of his experiences and fuse them with his passion for Austrian food -- developing creative, yet authentic menus that showcase quality ingredients with an artistic flair. Kurt’s ideals have secured him a unique spot in New York’s culinary world where he is able to harmonize his two great loves, food and art, and for this he is forever grateful.
Wine Director Leo Schneemann
Leopold Schneemann was born in Vorau, Austria and studied restaurant management at the Hotelfachschule Oberwart, a hospitality college in Oberwart, Austria. After graduation, Leo worked in a series of high--‐end restaurants before starting his sommelier training as an assistant sommelier at Obauer Restaurant in Werfen, Austria, and in the vineyards at Seppi Landmann winery in Soulzmatt, France. He returned to Austria to study for his sommelier diploma, which included a series of three--‐month courses.
After receiving his sommelier diploma, Leo moved to Vienna and worked for twoyears at Restaurant Steiereck. Restaurant Steiereck is considered to be the best restaurant in Austria and is especially heralded for its wine inventory. Between 2006 and 2007, Leo worked intermittently at Donabaum winery for periods of six weeks and up to three months during the spring and summer. It was then that he developed a great connection with the winemaker, Johann Donabaum. Schneemann’s globe--‐trotting sommelier work continued at Fischerzunft Restaurant in Schaffhausen, Switzerland and at Crocodile, in Strassbourg, and then on Crystal Cruises in 2007.
In October of 2008, Alois Kracher, the maker of one of the best sweet wines in Austria, introduced Leo to Austrian Chef Kurt Gutenbrunner. In January 2009,Schneemann finally came to the United States to join Chef Gutenbrunner’s team with a mission to develop a wine inventory to match Kurt’s exquisite Austrian menus as well as coordinate events at Cafe Sabarsky. Leo worked to bring in all of the most important Austrian vintages dating back to 1993. This inventory includes a broadrange of Austrian wines that are not available on the American market and in particular, those of winemaker Willi Brundlmayer.
Among his many accomplishments and experiences in New York City, Schneemann has taught a course at De Gustibus, one of the world’s top cooking schools, and is member of the American Sommelier Association. He continues to collaborate regularly with representatives of the Austrian wine industry and the Austrian Chamber of Commerce in New York to further the reputation of contemporary Austrian cuisine and wine.