You will find some of the top talents in the culinary world this week in Switzerland’s Engadin valley for the 25th anniversary of the St. Moritz Gourmet Festival. Extended from five to nine days this year — running from January 12-20, 2018, the festival features 10 guest master chefs from Europe, Asia and the United States. With the finest ingredients and the most careful preparation, you can enjoy delicious cuisine from these internationally acclaimed chefs, while surrounded by breath-taking views of the Alps.
I just returned from the glamorous winter wonderland of St. Moritz, after attending the first weekend of the Gourmet Festival, including the sold-out Grand Julius Bär Opening on Friday, January 12. With dozens of different events planned this year, you will have many chances to discover the cuisine of the guest master chefs, while also taking advantage of the skills and knowledge of the chefs and culinary experts working in St. Moritz.
An Impressive Line-up of Guest Master Chefs for 2018
As in years past, the guest master chefs for 2018 are partnered with local chefs working at the nine partner hotels. Altogether, the master guest chefs have accomplished the following and more:
- 6 chefs work in Michelin-starred restaurants
- 5 chefs come from restaurants rated by GaultMillau
- 4 chefs are in three of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2017
- 2 chefs have been named World’s Best Female Chef
- 1 chef earned the 2017 Female Chef Award from the Michelin Guide in Switzerland
This year’s edition of the St. Moritz Gourmet Festival also has two notable changes. First, the festival does not focus on one particular country. For example, in recent years the festival invited chefs exclusively from the United Kingdom, Japan and most recently, the United States. For 2018, organizers decided that the anniversary itself would serve as the festival’s theme, and instead brought together a diverse line-up of chefs from different countries. The second change involves the arrival of the chefs. Rather than having all the chefs attending the entire festival, some of the guest master chefs participate in the first half of the festival, and the rest participate in the second half of the festival. The Kitchen Party event mid-way through the week, held at Badrutt’s Palace, will have all the guest master chefs and local chefs in attendance.
Grand Julius Bär Opening
The first event of the St. Moritz Gourmet Festival was the Grand Julius Bär Opening. It took place the evening of Friday, January 12 for the first time at the Kulm Hotel St. Moritz. With a ticket price of CHF 245 per person, approximately 400 guests were treated to small plates, accompanied by a selection of fine champagnes and wines. The evening featured the festival’s first group of master guest chefs. They included: Syrco Bakker (Netherlands), Ian Kittichai (Thailand), Ana Roš (Slovenia) and Jörg Sackmann (Germany). With the chefs themselves serving the dishes from the various “gourmet islands,” guests had the unique opportunity to talk with them directly, asking questions or giving feedback.
At the opening event, I tried at least one dish from each of the chefs. Thankfully they were small enough that you can sample lots of different dishes all in one night. Here are two trends that I noticed among the dishes offered that evening:
1. Fish and shellfish with citrus:
- Langoustine tartar, verveine, lime, cucumber and dashi from Syrco Bakker and Gero Porstein (Carlton Hotel St. Moritz)
- Red king snow crab, grapefruit, Remolazzo (daikon) from Fabrizio Piantanida (Grand Hotel Kronenhof)
- Hiramasa kingfish with ponzu and citrus from Rolf Fliegauf (Hotel Giardino Mountain)
- Swiss salmon trout ceviche with coconut milk, honey, coriander and yuzu from Florian Mainzger (Nira Alpina)
- Sashimi from Faroe Islands – Salmon, oriental spices, mandarin segments, puffed rice from Jörg Sackmann and Fabian Marolf (Waldhaus Sils)
2. Adding texture with puffed or roasted rice:
- “Larb” scallop wok-seared, saw tooth coriander, roasted rice and chili flakes from Ian Kittichai and Valmiro Pasini (Badrutt’s Palace Hotel)
- Bluefin tuna belly, miso and rice crunch from Matthias Schmidberger (Kempinski Grand Hotel des Bains)
- The Sashimi dish listed above from Jörg Sackmann and Fabian Marolf also had puffed rice.
In terms of my favorite dishes for the evening, one of them was “Beetroot meringue with wood sorrel, goose liver and smoked eel,” from Jörg Sackmann and Fabian Marolf. This creative, elegant dish had an incredible color, flavor and texture. The delicate round meringue encased a savory filling. I also loved the two dishes prepared by Ian Kittichai. The scallop in his first dish was soft and tender, and it gave off some heat with the chili flakes. His second dish used “Geang-Cau roasted curry paste” with coconut milk, which made a delicious sauce for the slow-cooked beef short ribs. I think I could probably eat these for dinner every week.
The St. Moritz Gourmet Festival runs until Saturday, January 20, 2018, and tickets are still available for some events. For more information and to purchase tickets online, go to: www.stmoritz-gourmetfestival.ch.
Please note: I attended the Grand Julius Bär Opening as a guest of the St. Moritz Gourmet Festival. The thoughts and opinions expressed in this article are purely my own.
Updated: January 8, 2023