The 'Knedlerei' in Berwang
There’s no holding Nadine Kirchmair back. The young chef is the founder of the ‘Knedlerei’ in Berwang, where she makes all manner of artisan dumplings. Her watchword: regional, not global.
There are all sorts of forces of nature in the Tiroler Zugspitz Arena, and we can safely say that Nadine Kirchmair, head of the Knedlerei Manufaktur in Berwang, is one of them. Like a raging waterfall cascading down the Tyrolean mountains, Nadine embraced self-employment with vigour and aplomb. Within just a very short time, she’d made a name for herself locally with her hand-made dumplings.
‘Covid changed everything. It was never my intention to be a producer of food,’ says the 27-year-old entrepreneur. After tourism college, a cook apprenticeship, a patisserie diploma, and various jobs in hotel kitchens, she set sail as a cook on an AIDA cruise ship in 2019. Within just a few months, she had earned the title Chef de Cuisine with her ‘nothing’s impossible!’ attitude.
The coronavirus pandemic, however, forced Nadine to go ashore and quarantine at home. What then started as just a joke turned into the idea of the ‘Knedlerei’ in Berwang. ‘I was at home, bored, making dumplings, and telling my mum about it on the phone. She then said, jokingly: “Nadine, you could go out and sell them.”’ When Nadine starts talking, the words just come gushing out. And when asked whether she’d have gone back to the ship if the pandemic hadn’t lasted long, she says, ‘No, things just took on their own dynamic and suddenly we were there!’
At her ‘Knedlerei’ in Berwang, Nadine Kirchmair champions local craftsmanship. The dumplings are made by hand using almost only ingredients from the region. ‘I don’t want anything industrial,’ says Nadine. Apart from her use of local ingredients, she never uses any additives. ‘We make a genuinely pure product here,’ she adds. ‘The dumplings are prepared by hand, flash-frozen, packed, and delivered frozen to our partners in the region.’ Restaurants, stalls, small farm shops – there’s a constant stream of new partners, where visitors to the Tiroler Zugspitz Arena can savour the products made at the ‘Knedlerei’.
The Berwang ‘Knedlerei’ has everything from traditional bacon or spinach dumplings to sweet temptations and unusual creations such as the curd cheese and hemp dumpling. To ensure everyone is catered to, Nadine also offers vegan dumplings.
Nadine works closely with her mum Dagmar at the ‘Knedlerei’ in Berwang. And she’s perfectly happy to tell us that it’s not always plain sailing. After all, as head chef on the AIDA, she’d been in charge of more than 100 people, with all that that implies. ‘I’m always friendly, always in a good mood, but what I say goes, or else!’ she laughs. Indeed, she does sometimes get into heated arguments with her mum. But it’s usually nothing serious, says Nadine: ‘I have someone by my side I can rely on 1,000 percent.’ Does she miss her time as a ship’s cook? ‘Sure, often. The crew was like one big family.’ But Nadine has always felt very attached to her native Tyrol, which makes it easier. She likes to go out onto the alpine pastures, and when she does, she’ll eat dumplings. ‘I can make 1,000 of them a day and still eat some in the evening.’
Nadine is already making plans for the future of the ‘Knedlerei’. ‘I want to offer my customers something more. Expand a bit, maybe a small shop. I’ve got lots of ideas.’ Exciting times ahead, then, for the ‘Knedlerei’ in Berwang. One thing, though, is already certain: you can’t hold a force of nature like Nadine Kirchmair back.
Good to know: there are all sorts of other tasty treats available in the region – at BieZu in Ehrwald, for example. Never heard of it? Then just click here :)