Switzerland hosts many wonderful culinary events throughout the year, and you can expect another exciting line-up of food-focused festivals, markets and more in 2018. To help you make plans for the new year, here is my list of seven major culinary events, listed in chronological order, that you should consider adding to your calendar. High-profile chefs, traditional Swiss foods, slow food and more are included in the following events — for every budget and within different regions of Switzerland.
1. St. Moritz Gourmet Festival
When: January 12-20, 2018
Where: Various locations in St. Moritz
Celebrating its 25th year in 2018, the St. Moritz Gourmet Festival will host 10 guest master chefs from around the world. Spread out over 9 days this year, the festival gives these chefs the opportunity to partner with local chefs from some of the finest luxury hotels in St. Moritz.
Two of the guest master chefs — Dominque Crenn (at the Kempinski Grand Hotel des Bains) and Ana Roš (at the Kulm Hotel St. Moritz) — have both been named the World’s Best Female Chef in 2016 and 2017, respectively. (I had the chance to meet with both of these accomplished chefs in May 2017 at Chef Alps). Representing Switzerland will be Tanja Grandits of the 2-Michelin star Restaurant Stucki in Basel, who will be hosted by the Grand Hotel Kronenhof.
During this year’s festival, there are lots of wonderful events to choose from, such as the lavish “Chocolate Cult” buffet hosted by Badrutt’s Palace with Confiserie Sprüngli or the “Gourmet Safari” — a progressive meal that takes place at five of the participating hotels. To see the complete schedule and purchase tickets for individual events, check out the full program online.
2. Slow Food Markets
When: March 2-4, 2018 (Bern) and November 10-12, 2018 (Zurich)
Where: BERNEXPO and Messe Zürich
I have attended the Slow Food Markets in both Bern and Zurich over the years, and I always discover new products and producers from all over Switzerland at these events. You can sample a diverse variety of foods — beer, wine, dried meat, cheese, bread and pastries, and many others. It is such a pleasure being able to talk directly with the people who make these products.
You will also find several brief workshops given on various food-related subjects during the markets. For example, Nicole Hasler — author of the blog, zum fressn gern, was a co-presenter for a workshop on cooking a whole chicken on the grill — “nose to tail” — at last year’s Slow Food Market in Zurich
The Slow Food movement started across the border in Italy in 1983, led by journalist and sociologist Carlo Petrini. Slow Food is generally defined as food that’s “good, clean and fair.” In Switzerland, the current organization, Slow Food CH, officially started in 1993—after a group had already been organized in Ticino, the Italian-speaking canton of Switzerland.
3. Cuisinier d’Or
When: April 30 (deadline for applications), October 27 (semi-finals)
Where: The semi-finals will take place at the Glattzentrum in Wallisellen
This national cooking competition takes place every two years, and the current winner — Elodie Jacot-Manesse — was crowned last year. This means that in 2018, Der Goldene Koch (German) / Le Cuisinier D’Or (French) will be searching for a new champion. The deadline for people interested in applying for this competition is April 30, 2018. The semi-final will then take place this fall on October 27, 2018, with the final competition scheduled for February 25, 2019.
Switzerland continues to have the highest number of Michelin-star restaurants per capita in Europe, and the Swiss take gastronomy very seriously. This competition allows some of the best and brightest chefs from around the country to showcase their talents before a live audience.
The application documents for this competition can be downloaded directly from the website for this event: www.goldenerkoch.ch.
4. Chef Alps
When: May 27-28, 2018
Chef Alps is an international cooking summit held annually in Zurich. The 7th edition of this 2-day event will take place in 2018. This event showcases the incredible talent of internationally acclaimed chefs. These chefs cook live on stage and share some of their culinary secrets. For people working in the fine dining industry, gastronomy enthusiasts or amateur cooks, Chef Alps gives a firsthand look at the tools, ingredients and techniques of world-renowned chefs.
In 2018, the following chefs will be presenting: Massimo Bottura from Italy, Paco Morales from Spain, Harald Irka from Austria, Titti Qvarnström from Sweden and Ryan Clift from Singapore, as well as Dominique Persoone from Belgium. Representing Switzerland will be Sven Wassmer, Head Chef, and Amanda Wassmer Bulgin, Head Sommelier and Restaurant Manager, from 7132 Silver Restaurant in Vals.
Tickets for Chef Alps 2018 are scheduled to go on sale in March 2018.
5. FOOD ZURICH
When: May 24 – June 3, 2018
The third edition of FOOD ZURICH, an 11-day food festival, will take place this year in the spring from May 24 – June 3, 2018.
With over 100 events, the program for this food festival always includes a range of activities for people of all ages. For the first edition of the festival, I attended the opening night festivities at the Jelmoli Food Market. Last year, I took part in a Swiss Tavolata brunch, which allowed me to enjoy a home-cooked meal of traditional Swiss foods at someone’s house.
FOOD ZURICH is currently seeking registrations for individual events to be held during the festival. For more information, you can learn about the requirements via their website: https://www.foodzurich.com/en/
6. Semaine du Goût
When: September 13-23, 2018
Where: Various locations throughout Switzerland
Since 2001, Switzerland has hosted a Semaine du goût each year that highlights regional food products and promotes sustainable practices related to health and the environment. This year, the event will be held from September 13-23, and the city of Lugano in the canton of Ticino has been selected as the Ville du Goût. The Parrain du Goût 2018 — something like a grand marshal for the event that represents the city selected as the Ville du Goût — will be revealed in March 2018.
Throughout Switzerland, you can attend different events during the “Week of Taste,” like special meals, markets and workshops. Along with many opportunities to taste and learn about delicious Swiss foods, the event has an educational component as well, to increase awareness of traditional foods and nutritional eating habits, among others.
7. Salon Suisse des Goûts & Terroirs
When: October 31 – November 4, 2018
With hundreds of food exhibitors under one roof, the Salon Suisse des Goûts & Terroirs is a Swiss foodie’s paradise. This event takes place annually at the Espace Gruyère in Bulle. I went to this event in 2016 and 2017, and there is always some new regional Swiss food you haven’t tried before. This is another event where you can talk face-to-face with winemakers, butchers, chocolatiers and more. You can find specialties from the seven Swiss cantons typically featured at this event — Fribourg, Geneva, Jura, Neuchâtel, Valais, Vaud and Ticino.
As part of the Salon Suisse des Goûts & Terroirs, there is also a demonstration kitchen. It features prominent chefs, as well as a children’s area with hands-on displays and workshops. Overall, there is almost too much to do in only one day. You will find so many local producers to visit and talk to. In addition, there are regional restaurants with local dishes to try, as well as presentations and workshops to attend. I consider this to be the premier food event for Suisse Romande.
Updated: January 8, 2023