If you follow the fine dining scene in Switzerland, you have undoubtedly heard of Andreas Caminada. In 2003, he opened his restaurant and boutique hotel at Schloss Schauenstein. This renovated 17th century castle sits just 20 kilometers away from his hometown in the Swiss canton of Graubünden. Since that time, his restaurant has earned international acclaim. This includes three Michelin stars and 19 out of 20 points from Gault & Millau. Caminada, who has been described as having a “rock star” look with his well-coiffed hair and sense of style, has expanded his empire over the years to include several restaurants. His portfolio also encompasses a catering company, magazine and a new foundation, Fundaziun Uccelin.
I recently talked with Andreas Caminada at Chef Alps 2017, an international cooking summit held in Zürich last month. He serves as an ambassador for Chefs Alps and has supported this event since its inaugural edition five years ago. Furthermore, his Fundaziun Uccelin was first introduced at Chef Alps in 2016. As a result, representatives from the foundation were back this year to talk about its latest achievements.
Chef Alps: Learning from the Best
In general, Caminada described Chef Alps as an opportunity to discover new techniques and be inspired by the great chefs presenting live on stage. “All of the gastronomy industry can profit from this symposium. It is interesting to get to know other chefs — their work, their kitchen, their traditions. Passing this knowledge on through is valuable for the whole industry.” He continued, saying that Chef Alps is a “learning weekend” for people working in the field of gastronomy, as well as for food enthusiasts interested in learning about these culinary stars and their restaurants.
Even though Caminada did not give a cooking demonstration on stage this year, he was onsite to meet and greet the nine guest chefs and his fellow ambassadors:
- Frank Giovannini, Restaurant B. Violier, Hôtel de Ville, Crissier (CH);
- Thomas Dorfer, Restaurant Landhaus Bacher, Mautern (AT);
- Norbert Niederkofler, Hôtel & Spa Rosa Alpina, Badia (IT); and
- Heinz Reitbauer, Restaurant Steirereck, Vienna (AT)
As part of his responsibilities as a Chef Alps ambassador, he also hosted one of the guest chefs at Schloss Schauenstein: Dominque Crenn. This acclaimed chef leads Atelier Crenn in San Francisco, California. She earned the title of World’s Best Female Chef in 2016.
Caminada is a natural partner for Chef Alps because of his impressive range of activities. More specifically, here’s what he’s working on:
His first and premier restaurant, located in Fürstenau, Switzerland. It has a driving distance of about 1 1/2 hours from Zürich.
Adjacent to Schauenstein is a small café, typically open on Saturdays and Sundays, and for private events. (Update: Caminada has closed Remisa, but has opened Oz, a vegetarian restaurant, in its place.)
Caminada now has two locations in Switzerland for his second restaurant concept, IGNIV. Its name means “nest” in Romansh, one of Switzerland’s four official languages. He started with the first IGNIV at the Grand Resort Bad Ragaz in Zürich in 2015. The second location opened at Badrutt’s Palace in St. Moritz in 2016.
At IGNIV, guests share dishes in more of a family-style approach. At the same time, it maintains the same great service and high standards of Schloss Schauenstein. Caminada’s attention to detail is apparent when he spoke to me about the plates at these restaurants. He talked about the color and design, with birds and leaves, and how he thought a grandmother sitting at the table might like them. Overall, he envisions the experience at these restauarnts to be more of a multi-generational one, with families enjoying a meal together.
With his business partner, Sandro Steingruber, Caminada started a catering business for private events.
Twice a year, he publishes his eponymous magazine. Caminada told me he considers his magazine to be a great inspiration for his work. To produce content for the magazine, he gets to know other chefs and gets out to meet directly with producers. He publishes the magazine in German and English.
“Let me take you on a journey where you get inspired by beautiful photographs, interesting and exciting stories about people, regions and a large variety of products. I will bring you closer to culinary craftsmanship and different cooking techniques.” – Andreas Caminada via his website, describing Caminada magazine.
The Gault&Millau-Channel in Switzerland has featured Caminada in several recent videos. In these videos, he demonstrates how you can make some of his favorite recipes at home.
Fundaziun Uccelin: Providing Support to Young Chefs
With all that Caminada has accomplished, he wanted to create a way to give back to the industry that helped him build a successful career. After much consideration about the most efficient way to help young chefs, he decided to establish a foundation: Fundaziun Uccelin.
Taking its name from the Romansh word for “little bird,” the primary purpose of Fundaziun Uccelin is to support up-and-coming young chefs. To accomplish this goal, it offers them a 6-month training program or scholarship funds for academic training. The foundation wants to create “ambassadors for the quality of Swiss fine dining cuisine,” either within Switzerland or beyond its borders.
Video: Fundaziun Uccelin (in English)
The board accepts applications two times a year, and the age limit is 35 years. Once accepted, candidates get to choose from a list of about 50 chefs from around the world for their placements. Then, the foundation helps them with the costs associated with relocating to take on these temporary assignments. Caminada developed the program in part because of his own experience working Vancouver when he was 20 years old.
Caminada told me that the foundation supports people who really love their jobs and want on-the-job training experiences. According to him, there is no other platform that exists now to help young chefs in the same way. Each selected candidate typically spends a portion of their time at Caminada’s restaurant. Although, he stressed that candidates accepted into the program are under no obligation to continue working at the Schloss Schauenstein after their stint has ended.
To date, the foundation has awarded two rounds of scholarships to a total of 10 candidates. They were announced in fall 2016 and spring 2017. If you are interested in applying for the next round of scholarships, the application phase will begin in September 2017. Conversely, if you would like to make a donation to the foundation, you can do so directly or through the purchase of an item from Caminada’s online shop.
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Updated: January 1, 2023