Now That’s Chemintz’n It
While looking into the eyes of Wolfgang Green and hearing his life story, I was deeply touched as I gained a new adoration for this man as a chef and a survivor of a time of unrest – a situation that most of us can never relate to.
Growing up in East Germany in a town called Chemintz in 1961 as the communists’ control escalated with plans to ban travel into West Germany, and rumors of a wall being built, at age 15, Wolfgang’s mother dropped him off at a refugee camp, in hopes of protecting him and giving him a chance for a better life without communist rule. He would not see his parents for another 15 years. He shared that, while on a train, the Russians searched each car – except the last one – which was his.
His culinary interests began while helping his mother in the kitchen, but would become his “way out.” When in high school, a counselor enlightened him on the possibility of traveling as a chef. He attended a three-year culinary school and while apprenticing watched ships go out to sea – dreaming that one day he would be on one of them – leaving his native country behind.
His career began after he placed an ad in the newspaper and received a call from a recruiter about a chef’s position in Kingston, Jamaica, with the opening of a new Sheraton Hotel. Even though he spoke no English, he was hired and a new life in the culinary world began.
Chef Wolfgang wound up in Bermuda at the Mid Ocean Club as sous chef for two years followed by a short time at the Playboy Club in Ocho Rios. Then, he was offered executive chef position back at the Sheraton in Kingston and became the youngest chef (age 28) at the largest hotel in Jamaica.
Other paths led to Tennesee, where he met Muhammed Ali and former president Jimmy Carter at the exclusive Rivermont, where he was Executive Chef. Then onto Louisiana where he met Ella Brennan and claimed a position with the Brennan’s family and went to Dallas. Working for several years in that city, he was very involved with the Texas Chefs Association, and was voted Texas Chef of the Year by his peers.
During his career, he wanted to learn the front of the house also and became food and beverage manager as well. He was a member of the Texas team that went to the Culinary Olympics in Frankfurt, Germany, and claimed Gold and Silver medals. He was named Sheraton’s North American Divisions Food and Beverage Director of the Year. He also headed the Food and Beverage service for American Hawaii Cruises, serving over 5,000 passengers weekly.
On a personal level, Chef Wolfgang met Mindy in 1987 through a mutual friend in Texas.
“She was driving a Cadillac until I hooked her on Mercedes,” says Wolfgang with a chuckle! They married in 1988 and discovered Highlands while on a trip to Octoberfest in Helen, Georgia. The town was packed and they wound up in Otto where they purchased a farm on 33 acres, two barns, and four cows!
Once they frequented Highlands, in 1994 they purchased Hildegard’s Restaurant, a 50-seat restaurant. They started with 30 wines on the list and have since earned the Best of Wine Spectator Award with over 700 wines. With Mindy’s vision and persistence, it grew to be Wolfgang’s Restaurant and Wine Bistro.
Some of my favorites are Grilled Salmon with Israeli Couscous, the best Short Ribs in town, the Grilled Portobello with Warm Goat Cheese, and the famous Basil-Grapefruit Martini. The Apple Strudel is Wolfgang’s mother’s recipe and is not to be missed. A friendly staff, great manager, and caring owners, as well as the wine expert ensure a pleasant evening.