Shopping where the emperor did then
The emperor was their customer. He’s been gone for a long time, but the love of luxury remains. Today connoisseurs of the exquisite and the exclusive shop where the emperor once did: at the K. & K. Hoflieferanten – the Purveyors by Royal Appointment. And if you don’t have a fortune to spend on glasses or clothing, you can indulge in a more ephemeral piece of pure luxury: a piece of cake from the confectioner who once supplied the empress.
Roughly: “Have chosen?” “Wish to dine?” What sounds strange in German (and in English) is in fact the traditional form of address used by the waitresses in Café Demel. Out of respect and politeness they spoke to the customers without a personal pronoun and in the plural.
Rumour has it that the underground passage from the K. & K. Confectioner Demel to the Hofburg was built especially to transport the “sweet jewels” in times of crisis. In order to remain elegant despite the subterranean dust, the bearers of the delicacies were clad in black suits. They still are today, albeit not in narrow tunnels, but rather in charming cafés.
Let’s take a step back in time to imperial Vienna
who is allowed to bring the Kaiser his cakes? And what about his Kaisersemmerl (Emperor`s bread rolls)? After a rigorous selection process carried out by the Obersthofmeister (lord chamberlain), the final decision rested with the emperor himself.
The title “königlicher & kaiserliche Hoflieferant” (“royal and imperial purveyor”), or the even more illustrious “ K. & K. Kammerlieferant” (“supplier to the royal chamber”), was not granted to companies, but rather to individuals. And thus Empress Sisi’s husband Franz Joseph honoured not the Hotel Sacher, but rather its directress Anna Maria Sacher, an emancipated woman who was known for her love of cigars and bulldogs. He could have withdrawn the title at any time, but didn’t. And anyone who’s tasted a piece of Sachertorte in the magnificent building behind the opera house will understand why.
Text: Agnes Hamberger, Fotos: Christine Wurnig