MAX FISCHER : HEAD GARDENER
Max was born in rural West Germany , growing up very close to the River Elbe, then the border between East and West Germany. It was common for families to be very self-sufficient, growing their own produce and keeping a small amount of livestock.
From an early age, Max had two great interests – cooking and gardening and it was always clear to his family that he would choose one of these as a career. Cooking won and at the age of 16 he embarked on a career as a chef, leaving school and taking an apprenticeship to be a chef in his home town of Luneburg.
In 1970 he moved to the famous Erbprinz Hotel in Germany’s Black Forest, at that time a flagship amongst the world’s gastronomic hotels. This is where his standards for excellence developed. Working in the larder there he learned the fundamentals of food preparation and went on to win a gold medal for Larder Work in the Salon Culinaire competition.
The Erbprinz had contacts in Paris and two years later he moved there to broaden his experience in the family-owned Restaurant Nicholas. Nicholas held a coveted Michelin Star and their standards and work ethics have been Max’s inspiration.
In 1975, Max moved again to take a position as Demi Chef at the well-known Bell Inn at Aston Clinton, another Michelin Star establishment, and one of the first Relais Chateau members. It was at the Bell Inn that Max met Susan, his wife.
1976 saw another move, to Stockholm, Sweden and it was here that Max had his first opportunity to cook for royalty. Time in Sweden also presented opportunities for culinary exchange visits, including one at the very famous Maison de la Bouche in Brussels.
The following year, Max returned to his native Germany as Head Chef at the Schlosshotel Kronberg. Set in an historic castle built by Dowager Empress Victoria, widow of Emperor Friedrich III, her descendants still lived on the estate with the hotel run as a trust. Here Max cooked for royalty, politicians and celebrities; dinners, working lunches and grand banquets for the likes of Prince Charles, Margaret Thatcher, Nixon and Rockefeller were regular events.
But Max had always coveted the idea of eventually owning his own restaurant, and in 1980, at the age of 29, he and Susan returned to England, taking over a small café in Bakewell, Derbyshire. They renamed the premises Fischer’s, and started by serving simple lunches and cream teas.
Gradually, Max and Susan introduced a new style of cooking to rural England, which was soon acclaimed locally, regionally and nationally by the harshest of food critics and guides.
In 1989 Fischer’s moved to beautiful Baslow Hall, converting the Grade II listed family home into a Country House Restaurant with Rooms, earning their first Michelin Star in 1994, which they have retained ever since.
After working alongside Max, Rupert Rowley took over the reins as Head Chef in 2002, allowing Max to concentrate on his other passion, gardening, and in particulat prowing produce for use in the kitchen, whilst continuing on in an advisory role.
In November 2013, Max was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Sheffield Hallam University. watch the video here.
A visit to Fischer’s is not complete without a wander around the garden. Even if you are not a keen gardener yourself, we are sure you will enjoy the tranquil setting, the perfumes along with the sounds of nature and that the garden will enhance your experience of Baslow Hall.
And you may even bump into Max!