Covid-19 times – reflections with Heinrich Schneider

Heinrich Schneider is the chef patron of the two Michelin starred Terra in Italian Dolomites. He is lucky to be able to still enjoy the nature, but his life was disrupted by the virus as well. Here are his reflections.

How did your village change because of coronavirus? 

We are lucky to live in the middle of untouched nature. So far, there has been no infection in our municipality, but our thoughts are of course with all those who fight daily against this terrible disease.

Unfortunately, our father is not in such good health and lives in a nursing home. We have not been allowed to visit him for weeks, which is really very hard for us.

The whole last year has not been easy for me.

First, my father became a nursing case, then in June my mother suddenly had a stroke without warning. When she slowly recovered, we had to learn that she was suffering from an incurable disease. On February 13th, about 1 month ago, she passed away.  Our father lives in a nursing home. We have not been allowed to visit him for weeks, which is really very hard for us. I hope we will still see him alive.

We also had a very difficult business situation because of the private situation. When I took over the business from our parents over 20 years ago together with my sister, we had nothing but debts. With larger companies we even had to borrow the glasses from friends. We both worked very hard, for years without real wages, without holidays and without a day off. But our passion and love for our profession and the place where we live has rewarded us for all these hard privations. After many years of hard work, success came, but now suddenly a pandemic has broken out and everything is at stake again.

March would have been very well booked, but then the situation with the virus brought cancellations. We closed our business earlier because we wanted to protect our guests and so our employees could all go home safely. The whole travel market has collapsed and we don’t know how the year will continue.

Furthermore, we are very worried about how life will go on. Our job consists mainly of social contacts and we love the contact with our guests. We very much hope that this will continue to be possible in the future with the usual warmth.

What we find very positive is having the time with the family. We also hope that the elderly will again become the focus of attention, that solidarity and a sense of community will once again gain a higher significance.

What was your first thought when coronavirus appeared and what do you think now?

At the beginning hardly anyone could have imagined the extent of this crisis. Now it is clear that we all have to stand together and only together we can get out of this situation.

Praline of apple and beets

How are you spending these days?

I really try to make the best use of my time. By that I mean for the family, but also for my job. Around our house nature is awakening, the first wild herbs are growing, this inspires me, takes my mind off things and gives me a lot of positive energy.

How do you see life after coronavirus?

Nobody can say today exactly when this bad time will be over, but at some point we will surely have overcome it. I also think that this will not pass us by completely without leaving a trace. I really hope that realisation that nothing can be taken for granted and consciousness to perceive and enjoy even simple things in life will remain with us also after this situation is behind us.

What would be your personal message for your colleagues and other hospitality people around the world?

Nobody knows how it will go on and how long it will take, so maybe now it is not the right time to give advice to others, the only advice is: try to stay healthy.

Andreja Lajh

Heinrich Schneider

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