Tourism in ARBERLAND: “I don’t get the impression that things are that commercial here.“

The Falter family and hospitality – they simply belong together. The Falters are now running the hotel of the same name in the third generation. It is located in Drachselsried and was built in 1967. The youngest – Theresa and Marinus along with little Xavi – manage to combine tradition with modern times in an impressive way, as the 36-year-old father and chef makes clear in our interview. The family-owned hotel and restaurant also shows that there are numerous opportunities for self-realization in the hospitality industry in Arberland – among other things, through the training, advanced training and continuing education opportunities at Hotelberufsschule Viechtach, a vocational school for the hospitality sector. As the most important tourism region in the Bavarian Forest and the one with the highest number of overnight stays, the District of Regen offers many opportunities for both visitors and young professionals.

Mr Falter, I understand you were not born in this region, but you did your training here, is that correct?

I was born in Bad Aibling. We moved here when I was 15. My father had found a job as a masseur at the Maximilian Clinic in Bad Kötzting. After eight years, my parents and sister moved back to our hometown. By that time I had built up a close circle of friends, which still exists today and is growing and thriving. The region had become home to me. So I stayed here. After the ninth grade, I attended the vocational school for the hospitality sector in Viechtach, simply because I thought food was cool. I did my practical training at the local Burg hotel. There, Ludwig (“Luki”) Maurer, who was quite a bit older than me, took five other inexperienced young chaps and me under his wing. We are still friends today and I occasionally assist him with front cooking at trade shows.

 

That all sounds very pragmatic, so where does your passion for cooking actually come from?

Directly or indirectly, that came from my wife. (laughs) When I met Theresa in 2007, the first thing she told me was that she had a hotel at home. That is also why I took on her last name. After all, the house is called Falter and not Auer. At that point, I had been in the German Armed Forces for a few years, because the long hours and weekend work in the kitchen had gotten on my nerves. And now I was supposed to go back to cooking? In order to re-familiarize myself with the profession, I did an internship at Hotel Mooshof in Bodenmais, and then attended master school. That’s where I first learned the real art of cooking – and also rediscovered my passion for it. I got to meet some well-known people. And of course, you watch: How do they do it? But when you're standing in your own kitchen in your own hotel, it's a whole different story. Everything is as creative or uncreative, good or bad as you are.

Will the traditional local culinary landscape of pork-roast-with-dumplings even tolerate a breath of fresh air?

In other words, what's on your menu, and do people like it? So, first of all, we don't even have those classic pork dishes. Anything I don’t enjoy cooking we don't put on the menu. We have a small, colourful selection of twelve international dishes. I’m always delighted when young people order something they remember from their grandma and when older regulars come just for our vegan Thai curry. However, when the next major renovation is due next year, the menu will again change noticeably. The design of the restaurant will be more in the direction of “industrial design“, so it’s going to look really wild, and the culinary focus will be on steaks, salads, burgers and tapas. Plus a little bit of rockabilly music.... Then, maybe, we'll get a few visitors from the alternative scene. Hipsters and rockers and stuff... (laughs)

 

What do you value most about your region – or let me rephrase that: Where do you feel you belong?

The Bavarian Forest is home to me. My heart swells at the sight of the alpine panorama when I drive from Munich towards Irschenberg, from highway A99 and then on to the A8. After two or three days at my parents’ place, I'm already homesick for Drachselsried. To me, our region is rather like a village community, but in a most positive sense. People know each other, greet each other in a friendly manner, the relationship with our suppliers is relaxed, personal and cordial – and the pace of life as a whole is simply slower. Of course, I can only compare it with the greater Munich area, where my parents live. Life, work and togetherness in general somehow seem much more commercial there.

What do you do in your free time?

(laughs) I have 4,500 hours of Call of Duty: Black OPs multiplayer. No, just kidding, of course I don't spend as much time as I used to on gaming. When you work seven days a week, classic leisure time sometimes falls a bit by the wayside. You have to create free times for yourself during the day. I mainly spend those with my family or my circle of friends. I just don't want to constantly be on the job, which is one of the risks of being self-employed. When I have a full day or several days off at a stretch, I absolutely love to climb our peaks, one after the other. Mountains are unbeatable.

 

What’s it like to have work and family all in one place?

(laughs) Well, to be truthful, it’s something you have to learn to deal with. In the beginning, Theresa and I argued more frequently. Everyone wants the best for their guests. In the hospitality business, you have to accept that the service staff and the kitchen staff will most likely criticise and confront each other. And that forces you to learn not to be too sensitive. We have become a good team in the meantime. Otherwise, our little guy [4 years old] is the boss. (laughs) Of course, the in-laws support that energetically, Xaver goes to a great kindergarten AND we have a Colombian au pair. So, let me summarise all that: family and a business, that means a family-owned business, will only work if you're not stubborn and can forget work after work. (laughs)

 

Text: ARBERLAND REGio, Da Hog’n online magazine