Five years ago this May, Jerome and Christine Thalwitz brought German cuisine to downtown Fredericksburg’s historic train station when they opened the second location of their family’s Bavarian Chef restaurant at 200 Lafayette Blvd.
This “city sister” of the original Bavarian Chef on U.S. 29 in Madison has become an integral part of the Fredericksburg restaurant scene, participating in events like Capital Ale House’s Oktoberfest, the Fredericksburg Area Museum’s Food Fight and the city’s Sandwich Invitational, all of which have helped emphasize the growing culinary scene in Fredericksburg’s historic downtown.
Jerome Thalwitz said he’s enjoyed watching the downtown dining scene continue to grow, noting that within a few blocks’ walk, you can find Italian, French, Irish, Thai, German and many other styles of cuisine.
“You can come to downtown Fredericksburg and find a little bit of everything, dining-wise,” he said.
The Bavarian Chef serves up hearty and authentic German dishes, as well as menu items that are inspired by the extensive travels taken by both Jerome Thalwitz and his father, Bavarian Chef founder Eckhard Thalwitz, over the course of their culinary training.
The story of that training, and of the restaurant itself, is now recounted in a cookbook available for sale at both the Fredericksburg and Madison restaurant locations (as well as in digital format on iTunes).
Becoming the Bavarian Chef, written by Christine Thalwitz, is filled with photographs, stories and recipes. The book traces the restaurant’s roots all the way back to post-World-War-II Germany, where Eckhard Thalwitz resolved as a young boy to become a chef so that he would never be hungry again.
His training included apprenticeships and jobs in Germany, France and Morocco. The book traces the somewhat winding path that led Eckhard and his wife, Bruni, to purchase a small restaurant property tucked away in the mountains of Virginia, which reminded the couple of the landscape in their native Germany.
Recipes include longtime favorites from the Bavarian Chef menu, such as Forelle Müllerin, an entrée of trout from the foot of Old Rag Mountain.
Christine Thalwitz spent more than a year recording oral histories, conducting research and tracking down the photographs that illustrate the book and bring to life all of the diverse places that helped shape the Bavarian Chef as it is today.
The restaurant’s Fredericksburg location, in downtown’s historic train station, appealed to Jerome Thalwitz from the moment he saw it, reminding him of the German tradition of fine restaurants being incorporated into the Bahnhöfe, or train stations. Ever since opening day on May 6, 2010, the restaurant has developed a loyal following.
Bavarian Chef Sauerkraut
From “Becoming the Bavarian Chef”
32 oz. homemade or prepared sauerkraut
2 oz butter
8 oz bacon, diced
1 large onion, medium dice
4 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and diced
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup white wine
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
2 bay leaves
3-4 juniper berries
1 tablespoon black pepper
½ cup cornstarch, diluted in water
Melt butter in a four-quart stockpot over medium-high heat. Add bacon and brown slightly. Add onions and cook until translucent. Add apples and raisins. Add white wine and all seasonings. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Add cornstarch solution. Bring back to a boil and stir constantly. Remove from heat once mixture reaches desired consistency. Serves four to six.