Lea Linster on Luxembourg food
Luxembourgish cuisine is often synonymous with heavy, calorie-rich meals. However, Lea Linster corrects the common misconception and explains that although Bouneschlupp and Judd mat Gaardebounen, the two most prominent Luxembourgish dishes, are thought to be typical winter dishes they don’t need to be that hearty. “One should keep in mind that Luxembourgish food is farmers fare based on regional, home-grown ingredients and the meals were (and often still are) meant to give farmers and field workers the calories needed for a rough day. However, they can be made lighter. Judd mat Gaardebounen is not fatty nor heavy in itself, the preparation and the ingredients determine how calorie-rich the dish ultimately becomes.”
For the picky palate (and weight-conscious reader) there are other lighter dishes that are typically Luxembourgish too. Fierkelsjhelli (jellied porc or porc in aspic), Forell (trout) and Pâté au Riesling (Pâté of porc/veal with Riesling baked in bread) are less calorie-rich but still just as Luxembourgish as Judd, Träipen and Bouneschlupp. “These dishes less typically winter”, Ms. Linster adds, although Luxembourgish food often feels like meals you would only want at that time of year. As such there aren’t really any seasonal stand-alone dishes, “but you should try the Luxembourgish leek, Poretten, when they’re in season.”
Although Lea Linster doesn’t serve typical Luxembourgish food in the restaurant she’s owned for 30 years, she isn’t afraid to experiment with Luxembourgish culinary heritage. Her Bocuse D’Or-winning recipe “loin of lamb in crisp potato crust” is a hidden homage to the Luxembourgish Gromperekichelcher as the crust is based on similar ingredients and preparation technique. Yes, Gromperekichelcher are those greasy potato cakes that you’ll gobble up at the coming Christams market on Place d’Armes. “Ultimately, one could make the Luxembourgish cuisine Michelin-star-material. It’s all a question of technique and courage”, the Luxembourgish chef adds.
Apart from her excellent food, Lea Linster is also famous for her cooking philosophy “always with passion, love and the best ingredients” which is why she has no ambition of “going molecular” like the “the fat duck” or the Danish “Noma”. Although, like any other top-chef, she’s actively working towards her 2nd Michelin star, she has no intention of compromising the quality, care and warmth she puts into her recipes: “why ruin a good thing?”
Cooking is not her only specialty. In 1996 Lea Linster opened her own winery (Domaine de Lea Linster) selling the local Elbling. The celebrity chef actually recommends using Elbling in recipes that require white wine, as the acidity stays crisp with that specific grape. Even a Pâte de Riesling allegedly tastes better when made with Elbling.
Lea Linster is the only female Bocuse D’Or winner to-date, and she acknowledges that it has been, and still is, hard to work in a man’s world. Nevertheless, her ambition, her desire to become independent, her upbringing and her father’s focus on fostering her talent has made her an indispensable part of international haute cuisine.
Yet, she is not your typical chef. After a long time of hoping and planning she’ll finally be able to achieve her dream. “I had hoped for that exact location, and when it, as if by miracle, became available my dream suddenly became a reality”. On the 28th of November the specialty boutique “Lea Linster Delikatessen” will open in the centre of the capital next to the Grand Ducal Palace. Lea Linster’s own little palace will sell everything from cooking utensils to fine foods. As an extra special service, her famous madeleines and brioches will be baked on site luring you to her store. Why not try one of her brioches topped with what Lea Linster calls “the best jam in the world” made by one of her friends.