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Kempf Family History,

hoteliers in Metzeral


Before the First World War, Fritz Kempf and his family lived in the “Postgasthaus zur Brücke” on the banks of the Fecht. Their property included a barn which housed the stagecoaches and horses. It was located at the location of the current tobacco shop. In August 1915, the entire population of Metzeral, which numbered about 1,200 inhabitants, was evacuated and transferred to Colmar safe from the fighting. At the end of the war, the village of Metzeral was in ruins. The houses, all destroyed, were quickly rebuilt thanks to compensation paid by Germany and this is how the current Hôtel du Pont was built. Fritz Kempf junior married Catherine, daughter of Martin Huck, a cheese merchant from Munster. He became mayor after the war thanks to his mastery of French. The wedding was celebrated in a temporary barrack since the entire village of Metzeral was nothing but a field of ruins. Before his marriage, Fritz Kempf junior had worked as a cook in London, Hamburg, Rotterdam and Paris. He had vast knowledge and solid know-how. In 1925, Catherine and Fritz Kempf and their son Jean were finally able to leave their temporary barracks and move into the new Hôtel du Pont. It was then that an era of prosperity began for Metzeral, which saw the arrival, by train, of many French and German families who came to pray at the graves of their sons, brothers and fathers who died during the war. This post-war tourism was a flourishing period for Metzeral, which then had eight hotel-restaurants operating at full capacity. Joy returned to the village, animated by music, singing and dancing to tunes performed on the automatic barrel organ. Unfortunately, the Second World War marked the end of this development.   The Hôtel du Pont was rented to the Obrecht family while the heir to the hotel, Jean Kempf, forcibly incorporated into the German army in 1942, was taken prisoner of war in Tambov in Russia. He returned to his native village in May 1946 and took over the management of his hotel. The family of the next generation was founded two years later, when in 1948 Jean Kempf married the young Jeanne Schickel, ninth in a peasant family of eleven children. His family lived in the village and operated several alpine farms, two of which have remained family properties to this day (2013) – the “Huss” and the “Hahnenbrunnen”. Jeanne, renowned for her beauty, became a chef and offered good traditional cuisine. On the menu were, at the top of the list, pie and stew, lake trout produced by the Schmitt family, Munster cheese made by his brothers and fruit pies from the region. In summer, the terrace in the shade of an arbor of Virginia creeper was always occupied. And in winter, the skiers stopped at the restaurant on the way back or took strength before climbing on the summits of Gaschney or Schnepfenried. Often the train would wait for the last stragglers to finish their mulled wine before staggering the short journey to the station.   In 1951, on Martin Huck's farm, the long-awaited heir was finally born. And it is above all there that he grows up because his parents did not have time to take care of him. Fortunately, the great-grandfather is available and transmits to him the love of the country and his knowledge of the land and its riches. After his schooling,   in accordance with his vocation,  Jean-Martin did an apprenticeship as a cook at Trois-Epis. These four years were followed by a two-year commitment at the Auberge de l'Ill with chef Paul Haeberlein.

In 1970 he was called back to Metzeral by his parents, who needed his support, and in 1973 he married his great love, Josette Bourseau, a Parisian. She was a precious help at his side and gave him a son, Frédéric, who was born in 1976. What a joy to know that the succession was assured! At the age of five already, the boy stood next to his father, in the kitchen, and it was there that his passion awoke. He spent all his free time there. At the age of sixteen, he began his training at the hotel school in Strasbourg, graduating three years later from the CAP, BEP and then a BTH, successes which brought joy and pride to his parents. It was now necessary to think of the practical application of the knowledge thus acquired. Thus, Frédéric became a kitchen assistant at the famous Auberge de l'Ill in Illhaeusern before moving to the restaurant at "Scharzer Adler" Oberbergen in Germany. Then, he was chef de partie at the Grand Hôtel du Parc in Villars-sur-Ollon in Switzerland. A new challenge awaited him in May 1997, when he took over the destiny of the Hôtel aux deux Clefs in Metzeral, just 21 years old. In July 1997, the restaurant "Les Clarines d'Argent" was opened when his future wife, Séverine Zimmermann from Soultzbach, had just passed her BTS as a management assistant. Their marriage was celebrated in the year 2000, a symbolic year which marked the turn of the millennium. Strong in their love, the newlyweds began to realize their plans and raised the necessary capital to make investments. Thus the hotel's fifteen rooms were renovated in 2001 and, three years later, a catering service was created under the name “JFK catering”. The following year saw the opening of a modern fitness center and spa with treatments. Happiness was at its peak when Jérémy was born in 2002. Thanks to him, the succession was assured. The parents' joy was exceeded only by that of the grandparents and great-grandmother, Jeanne Kempf. At the age of five, young Jérémy was already a true fishing enthusiast. He had discovered a small fishing pond at a friend's house on the occasion of a birthday party and, on his return, declared to his grandfather: "I too would like to have a small fishing pond" . This wish made its way into the minds of parents and grandparents and in the end, the idea was materialized by the realization of a beautiful pond decorated with an island where live small rabbits and three mascots ¬– ducks . A shelter allows guests to spend romantic moments at the water's edge. A mini-golf course was added three years later. The restaurant was enlarged in order to offer more space to our guests. A new room was fitted out for breakfast and a tea room welcomes lovers of pastries. To preserve his balance in a busy life, the boss, every morning at 6:30 a.m. at daybreak, practices an hour and a half of walking with his father. They thus travel through the beautiful valley of Munster. On his return, he helps his wife Séverine to prepare breakfast for the guests. Family life plays an important role. Thus, on days off, the three Kempf generations go to the Vosges or the Alps to regain their strength in contact with nature. Jérémy, now ten years old, shares with his father the passion for skiing on the summits of the Vosges or the Alps. For the young family, the parents and grandparents are a real blessing: Grandpa and Grandma Pont are always willing to lend a hand, great-grandmother Jeanne Kempf, aged 86, gives the young chef the herbs and edible flowers (marigolds, borage, nasturtiums, lavender, etc.) which mark the exclusivity of his cuisine. Séverine's father, Jeannot, takes care of the green spaces and La Mamie de Soultzbach delivers delicious vegetables grown in her garden. A real family business in the heart of the Vosges mountains! And we must never forget to dream! The young Metzer family dreams of rebuilding the old Schiessroth mountain pasture which was destroyed during the war but whose foundations remain. Thus, there may soon be, at the foot of the Hohneck, a refuge welcoming hikers and nature lovers. For now, it's just a dream, but who knows?

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