Mérite Culinaire Suisse: National Culinary Award Honors Frédy Girardet

Just down the street from the Parliament Building in Bern, some of Switzerland’s most talented chefs gathered for the presentation of a new national culinary award, Mérite Culinaire Suisse. In the historic Bellevue Palace hotel, Guy Parmelin — Federal Councilor and Vice President of the Federal Council — announced the five winners at the inaugural edition of this ceremony.

Organized by the Fondation pour la Promotion du Goût in Lausanne, the Mérite Culinaire Suisse aims to promote Swiss gastronomy. This award goes to chefs for their exceptional work and expertise. It also recognizes chefs who work with local products that are part of Switzerland’s culinary heritage. For its first year, the jury — comprised of highly-regarded chefs and journalists — selected a total of five winners. These winners receive a special red scarf and clip bearing the emblematic cross from Switzerland’s flag, also worn by the six chefs on the jury.

Mérite Culinaire d’Honneur

Frédy Girardet received the first award at the ceremony. It was a special Mérite Culinaire d’Honneur to honor his distinguished career in the field of gastronomy. Well-known in Switzerland for his work at the Hôtel de Ville de Crissier, he received the title of cuisinier du siècle (chef of the century) from GaultMillau France in 1989. This distinguished prize was also given to Paul Bocuse and Joël Robuchon. Girardet’s restaurant earned three Michelin stars, 19.5 points from GaultMillau in Switzerland and became known as one of the top restaurants in the world. It’s a distinction still carries today under the leadership of Chef Frank Giovannini. At 83 years of age, Girardet — who has the reputation of avoiding the spotlight — gracefully and humbly accepted his award, seeming very touched by the experience.

Four Chefs Earn Mérite Culinaire Prize

In addition to the special distinction presented to Frédy Girardet, Mérite Culinaire Suisse also selected four chefs working in Switzerland to join its new cadre of lauréats.

For 2020, among the four chefs selected, two currently work at restaurants in the canton of Vaud. Also, three of the chefs are members of Les Grandes Tables de Suisse. The only exception was Ale Mordasini, the youngest of this year’s winners. He earned the title of Goldener Koch / Cuisinier d’Or in 2019.

Going forward, Mérite Culinaire Suisse will continue to select four additional chefs for this prize every year. For more information about the enrollment rules and requirements, contact the:

Fondation pour la Promotion du Goût
Avenue Dapples 21, Case postale 99, 1001 Lausanne
+41 (0)21 601 58 03

Updated: January 9, 2023

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