Andreas Caminada: Swiss “Rock Star” Chef Gives Back with New Foundation

Andreas Caminada talking with guest chef Nick Bril of Belgium at Chef Alps 2017. Photo copyright: Chef Alps/Nadine Kägi.

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, a renovated 17th century castle just 20 kilometers from his hometown in the Swiss canton of Graubünden. Since that time, his restaurant has earned international acclaim, with 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, a catering company, magazine and a new foundation, Fundaziun Uccelin.

I recently had the chance to talk with Andreas Caminada at Chef Alps 2017 — an international cooking summit held in Zürich last month — where he served as an ambassador for the event. He has supported Chef Alps since its inaugural edition five years ago. Fundaziun Uccelin was first introduced at Chef Alps in 2016, and representatives from the foundation were back this year to talk about its latest achievements.

Chef Alps: Learning from the Best

Caminada described Chef Alps as an opportunity to learn 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 said 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.

While 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:

As part of his responsibilities as a Chef Alps ambassador, he also hosted one of the guest chefs at Schloss Schauenstein during Chef Alps 2017: Dominque Crenn of Atelier Crenn in San Francisco, California, who earned the title of World’s Best Female Chef in 2016.

A quick snapshot after my interview with Andreas Caminada, at Chef Alps 2017.

Caminada is a natural partner for Chef Alps because of his impressive portfolio. Here’s a quick summary of his current restaurants and some other ongoing projects he has in Switzerland:

Schauenstein – His first and premier restaurant, located in Fürstenau, Switzerland — with a driving distance of about 1 1/2-hours from Zürich.

Remisa – Adjacent to Schauenstein is a small café, typically open on Saturdays and Sundays, and for private events.

IGNIV – Caminada now has two locations in Switzerland for his second restaurant concept, IGNIV — or “nest” in Romansh, one of Switzerland’s four official languages. He opened the first IGNIV at the Grand Resort Bad Ragaz in Zürich in 2015, and the second location at Badrutt’s Palace in St. Moritz in 2016. At IGNIV, guests share dishes in more of a family-style approach, but with the same great service and high standards of Schauenstein. His attention to detail is apparent when he spoke to me about the plates at these restaurants — the color and design, with birds and leaves — and how he thought a grandmother sitting at the table might like them. He envisions the experience to be more of a multi-generational one, with families enjoying a meal together.

The beautiful plates at Andreas Caminada’s IGNIV restaurants. Photo credit: IGNIV  by Andreas Caminada.

acasa Catering: With his business partner, Sandro Steingruber, Caminada started a catering business for private events with dishes prepared in the kitchen of the Schauenstein Schloss Restaurant Hotel.

Caminada Magazine: Twice a year, he publishes his eponymous magazine with incredible food photography, articles and recipes. 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.

Atelier Caminada: The Gault&Millau-Channel in Switzerland has featured Caminada in several recent videos where 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 in the world of gastronomy and hospitality, he wanted to create a way to give back to the industry that helped him build such a successful career. After much consideration about the most efficient way to help young chefs getting started along their own career path, he decided to establish a foundation: Fundaziun Uccelin.

At Chef Alps 2017 – Claudia Grasern-Woehrle along with Sarah Leeman, Fundaziun Uccelin’s Managing Director, and Tanja Grandits, foundation Board Member and Chef at Restaurant Stucki in Basel. Photo copyright: Chef Alps/Nadine Kägi.

The primary purpose of Fundaziun Uccelin — uccellin is a Romansh word for “little bird” — is to support up-and-coming young chefs by offering them a 6-month training program or scholarship funds for academic training. In addition, it aims to further the work of these candidates to become “ambassadors for the quality of Swiss fine dining cuisine and either take it to the global markets or represent it in Switzerland.”

Source: Fundaziun Uccelin – English from Fundaziun Uccelin on Vimeo.

Selected candidates get to choose from a list of about 50 chefs from around the world for their placements. Then, the foundation will help 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 for a year in Vancouver when he was 20 years old. The board accepts applications two times a year — from Switzerland and beyond, and the age limit is 35 years.

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. He stressed that for candidates accepted into the program, they are under no obligation to continue working at the Schloss Schauenstein — as each selected candidate typically spends a portion of their time at Caminada’s restaurant — after their 6-month period has ended.

To date, the foundation has awarded two rounds of scholarships to a total of 10 candidates, which 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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2 replies »

    • Hi Dennis! Thanks so much for visiting my blog! It was really a pleasure to meet and talk with Caminada. He’s such an accomplished person, and great to see him starting this new foundation to help others. Now I need to (finally) try out one of his restaurants! 😉 Hope you’re doing well. -Heddi

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