Luki Maurer und Werner Schmidtbauer sitzen unterm Gipfelkreuz bei einer Brotzeit zusammen
Author: Hanno Meier
Pictures: Hanno Meier

A meatball match on the mountain

Werner Schmidbauer meets Lucki Maurer on the Osser

For Lucki Maurer, the invitation was much more than a meeting on a mountain. “It felt like Bayerischer Rundfunk was giving me a knighthood,” the celebrity chef from the Bavarian Forest recalls. First an episode on Lebenslinien, followed by an appearance on the Ringlstetter talkshow. Now, Maurer finds himself on television with BR’s fan favorite, Werner Schmidbauer, striking an item off the bucket list that the author and “Pope of Meat” had written during the toughest time of his life. His episode aired on Whit Monday at 5:45 p.m.

When Lucki was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 19, he wrote a list of all the things he still wanted to do in life. He wanted to be a rock star. Share the stage with Metallica’s James Hetfield once. He wanted to be like his idol, the award-winning chef Stefan Marquard of the Junge Wilde group. And there was one more item on the bucket list. an appearance on Gipfeltreffen with Werner Schmidbauer. Meeting on a mountaintop, chatting about himself and life in general, sampling the legendary meatballs – grilled by the host himself – live on air.

Lucki Maurer und Werner Schmidtbauer essen ein Fleischpflanzerl auf dem Berg

When he did get his invitation to the “talkshow with an altitude”, Maurer had a very specific mountain in mind for his hike with Schmidbauer: his all-time favorite, the Großer Osser. Nestled in the Bavarian forest, the mountain is near the Waldschlössl, his parents’ hotel, where he had spent much of his childhood. “I’ve loved that mountain since I was a child,” says the 41-year-old, who sports a ginger goatee and a mane to match. “There’s something mystical, something legendary about it.” That’s what he likes: that jagged authenticity is exactly his thing, much like the TV show that’s been on air for 20 years now.

The host, Werner Schmidbauer, takes his time getting to know his guests, speaking about their lives and careers as they wander from the parking lot to the cross at the summit. It’s a very deep conversation for a rather small mountain, as the Großer Osser comes in at a modest 1,293 meters.

Lucki Maurer’s life story is like heavy metal with an intro by Vivaldi – and we’re not just saying that because of his passion for headbanging. The animated conversation could easily have continued all the way up to the peak of the Zugspitze, with Schmidbauer delving into his guest’s story as if he were picking a trailhead on the mountain they were climbing. For Maurer, the trail begins in the hamlet of Höllhöhe, where he grew up with his brother, Sepp, at his parents’ inn, and then takes a drastic turn with the illness that upended his life. But things quickly started to look up as the conversation made its way uphill, touching on Maurer’s beginnings in the kitchen and his ascent into the premier league of German chefs.

It was a Friday in late April. Earlier that week, Lucki Maurer had filmed a Christmas special on Kitchen Impossible with Tim Mälzer. Afterwards, he spent some time on his farm in Schergengrub, where he raises his Wagyu cattle and operates the STOI event restaurant.

Their hike draws to an end as Maurer and Schmidbauer climb the last few meters up to the Osser summit. Behind them lies the Schutzhaus restaurant, where the border guards once used to have lunch: the Bohemians on one side, the Bavarians on the other. There wasn’t much space for BR’s nine-person camera crew underneath the summit cross, but they all wanted to be there when Werner took his legendary home-made meatballs out of his backpack. Then, the unexpected: his guest had brought his own! Between them, they had plenty for the entire team, who had more than earned their meal after two hours of filming Gipfeltreffen. The Schutzhaus’ innkeeper even donated a round of Osserbier. After all: how often do you get a chance to enjoy a bottle of beer named after the mountain you just climbed? Later, the award-winning chef generously praises his hiking companion’s cooking skills: “Schmidbauer’s meatballs were worthy of the Champions League!” Of course, any observant onlooker would have noticed that Lucki’s meatballs had been devoured even before the foam on the first half-pint of Osserbier had evaporated.

But that’s okay: Werner Schmidbauer’s show is a cult classic, and anyone who has had an opportunity to experience the professional ease with which it is produced understands why it has been so successful for two decades. Plus, Lucki’s culinary expertise has put many a professional chef in their place before.

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