Over the years, stories have become history – and if you have 92 years to look back on, like the Kirchheimerhof’s Grandma Elli, it’s easy to come up with 1001 stories. Or even more. Once Grandma Elli starts reminiscing with her own special sense of humor, there’s not a dry eye left in the house. In 1960, Elli and Otto Hinteregger decided to open a restaurant. They started out with the Graierhube in the “Kray,” an agricultural area first mentioned in the 15th century and bearing the name of the hillside location with its magnificent panorama. It wasn’t long before locals and guests noticed what Elli was worth, as a skilled cook and confectioner, alongside Otto as a passionate host. “Oh yes, the two of us…,” she laughs with mischievously sparkling eyes. Memories come alive.
The food was so good that the guests didn’t want to leave. Thus, the first guest rooms were built.
Over time, the Kirchheimerhof became increasingly popular with travelers, making it necessary to expand. The word-of-mouth publicity was mainly due to the Grandma Elli’s delicious specialties. Well, “delicious” doesn’t really do it justice! It has always been and still is an inspiration for the taste buds to discover the secrets of Carinthian cuisine while feasting on Lamplbratl (lamb roast), perfectly wrapped Kärntner Kasnudeln and heavenly apple strudel. “But I won’t reveal all my secrets,” grins Elli.
Time and again, foodies ask her to let them in on her recipes. But the Kirchheimerhof’s good soul stands firm. And it wouldn’t do much good anyway – the essentials can’t be put into words. Love and passion. Plus all the years, indeed decades, of experience. One example: Elli's legendary yellow soup. Granddaughter Anna wanted to have a try at it. She had often watched her grandmother cooking it. “Well, let’s see then!” Elli finally gave in and let Anna in on the secrets of the golden-yellow soup. Just follow the recipe? Not a chance! Whoever pursues an apprenticeship with a true paragon of Carinthian cooking has to dig deeper. After several hours of cooking and tasting, Anna finally managed to get a culinary accolade from Grandma Elli: “Not bad!” Praise she cannot bring herself to pronounce easily.
The Kirchheimerhof is hard work, very demanding for the owners as well as their employees. Establishing the base for quality that meets the highest standards. At the same time, it takes natural wit deeply rooted in the heart, a dry sense of humor that makes life enjoyable. Son Gerald and daughter-in-law Sigrun are not spared either when the day is being planned at the table. Elli, with her nine decades of experience, is still interested in what is happening in and around the hotel and doesn’t hold back when commenting wittily on the things she doesn’t like. “When will the meadows finally be mowed? How are things going with Anna and the animals? And how about Sigrun’s work in the garden?” Grandma Elli – a fulfilled life.
Founding a hotel while also having to manage the never-ending work on the farm. It wasn’t until the 1990s that she could plan her first vacation together with friends. The ocean, Constantinople … a whole different world. Elli doesn’t mind: “So what! It’s just as beautiful here!”