That red meat thermometer in Helmut Klett’s left sleeve pocket is not for show.
Klett, executive chef at Alpen Rose Restaurant and Cafe in downtown Holland, is a working chef.
Sure, the Austrian native oversees the training, kitchen management and ordering at the restaurant that serves classic European dishes and American favorites.
But he also cooks nearly every day at Alpen Rose, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.
Klett would not have it any other way.
“I enjoy my work,” said Klett, who has been at Alpen Rose since December 2007. “You meet a lot of different kinds of people and new people. And food is always something people don’t say no to.”
For its 25th anniversary, Alpen Rose has changed its menu to a one-sheet page, and added seasonal and anniversary specials.
Four wine dinners, two in the spring and two in the fall, are a highlight.
“It’s always a fun time for the chefs in the kitchen,” Klett said. “We look for what is on the market, what is new and play with it — see what fits together. It’s really interesting, especially with the different wines, to fit the food with it. It’s a nice experience.”
Some dishes at Alpen Rose can be traced to Klett’s apprenticeship with a chef in Austria.
“I had a great chef who taught me, so I kept that tradition of European food and Austrian food — the Wiener schnitzel and Jager schnitzel, and how to make the red cabbage,” he said. “I am still doing it the same way he taught me.”
The tall, soft-spoken chef also tries new ideas and ingredient combinations.
Alpen Rose’s menu, flair and ambience bring a bit of Austria to downtown Holland. A from-scratch bakery and catering department round out its offerings.
Thirty years after his chef apprenticeship, Klett continues to enjoy cooking.
“I love to cook and surprise people with food and flavors, and make them smile,” he said. “That’s the whole thing about cooking, I think.”