St. Moritz Gourmet Festival: SWISS MADE Preview Lunch

Swiss Made, Preview Lunch at the Grand Hotel Kronenhof in Pontresina.

Following a one-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the St. Moritz Gourmet Festival will be back in 2022. With its “Swiss Made” theme, the festival’s participating chefs all currently work at some of the country’s finest restaurants in Switzerland. Each of the following guest chefs partner with chefs leading the kitchens of 10 grand hotels in the Engadin Valley.

January 28 to February 1, 2022

  • Heiko Nieder, The Restaurant in Zürich (ZH) at the Dolder Grand Hotel with Executive Chef Fabrizio Zanetti, Suvretta House
  • Markus Arnold, Restaurant Steinhalle in Bern (BE) with Executive Chef Dariusz Durdyn, Nira Alpina
  • Tobias Funke, Incantare at the Gasthaus zur Fernsicht in Heiden (AR) with Executive Chef Kari Walker, Hotel Saratz
  • Stefan Heilemann, Widder Restaurant at the Widder Hotel in Zürich (ZU) with Executive Chef Max Herzog, Carlton Hotel
  • Dominik Hartmann, Magdalena in Rickenbach (SZ) with Executive Chef Maxime Luvara, Badrutt’s Palace Hotel

February 1-5, 2022

  • Mattias Roock, Locando Barbarossa at the Hotel Castello del Sole in Ascona (TI) with Executive Chef Gero Porstein, Hotel Waldhaus Sils
  • Mitja Birlo, 7132 Silver at the 7132 Hotel in Vals (GR) with Executive Chef Fabrizio Piantanida, Grand Hotel Kronenhof
  • Tanja Grandits, Stucki Restaurant in Basel (BS) with Executive Chef Mauro Taufer, Kulm Hotel St. Moritz
  • Patrick Mahler, Focus at Park Hotel Vitznau in Vitznau (LU) with Executive Chef Rolf Fliegauf, Hotel Giardino Mountain
  • Stéphane Décotterd, Maison Décotterd in Glion-sur-Montreux (VD) with by Executive Chef Matthias Schmidberger, Grand Hotel Des Bains Kempinski

To help give a preview of the 2022 festival, a special lunch was held in October at one of the festival’s partner hotels, the Grand Hotel Kronenhof in Pontresina. At this historic hotel, the meal featured dishes from three of the guest chefs that will take part in next year’s event: Dominik Hartmann, Mitja Birlo and Mattias Roock.

Guest chefs: Mattias Roock, Mitja Birjo and Dominik Hartmann

5 Questions with Chef Mattias Roock

Before the preview lunch for the gourmet festival, I spoke with Chef Mattias Roock. This chef from Northern Germany will return to the Engadin next year as a guest chef. He previously hosted guest chefs for the festival during his time working at the Grand Hotel des Bains Kempinski in St. Moritz. Today he serves as the executive chef at the Michelin-starred Locanda Barbarossa at the Castello del Sole, a luxury resort in Ascona.

Here are 5 questions with Mattias Roock. This interview was edited for clarity and length.

Q1: Who came with you from Ascona to help you prepare the dessert today for the preview lunch?

“Me, myself, Mattias, Mr. Roock, and today, even the executive chef is coming with me,” he told me with a smile.

Q2: What can you tell me about your dessert?

“The dessert I brought is made with yuzu. We have yuzu trees in our garden at the Castello del Sole. These trees are almost 20 years old, but we are planting more now. We have about 20 yuzu trees altogether. I developed the concept for this dessert about five years ago.”

“The farm around the Castello de Sole belongs to the hotel. All the ingredients for my special menu at the restaurant, Sapori del nostro orto (flavors from our garden), come from the hotel’s garden and its farm, Terreni alla Maggia. This includes the vegetables, rice, polenta, quinoa and wine, for example. I also use local ingredients from selected suppliers, such as regional fisherman and poultry farmers.”

Yuzo Zitrone-Ticinese yoghurt-pistachio ice cream. Source: Mattias Roock

Q3: When you visit the Engadin, what places do you like to return to?

“In Pontresina, I like to visit the Sennerei. I go there every time I visit this region. Switzerland is the best place for raclette and fondue.”

Q4: What do you enjoy about participating in the St. Moritz Gourmet Festival?

“At this year’s event, I look forward to seeing friends, making connections and exchanging thoughts and ideas. It will be an opportunity to talk with others about the situation now in the hospitality industry. It’s a chance to network. During the festival, a lot of chefs and suppliers are coming together in one place. To visit them all would take a lot of time. We have them all in one spot. I’m open-minded, and I like to talk and exchange.”

Q5: For the St. Moritz Gourmet Festival, you will be hosted by Gero Porstein, executive chef at the Hotel Waldhaus-Sils. Have you started planning your menus for the various events?

“I know Gero, we worked together at the Kempinski. We’ve known each other for a long time. I will stop in to see him at the Waldhaus-Sils before I travel back to Ascona.”

“Every chef has his own signature style. Gero likes to work with local and regional products for his cooking. This is what we have in common. We cook by heart. We’re not big recipe collectors, and we cook by how we feel.”

“If you work with regional or local products, they are not uniform in flavor, texture, quality or size. It changes. You always have to adjust. Not like a mass-produced product. If I have a local quail, the size will change, the flavor will change, and it depends on the time of year. Sometimes it’s smaller, so you have to change how you prepare it.”

Preview Lunch Menu

After we finished our interview, Mr. Roock went directly to the kitchen to prepare his dessert for the lunch. As I entered the opulent dining room of the Grand Hotel Kronenhof, I was immediately struck by the grand table covered with floral bouquets of all sizes. They were beautifully arranged in the hotel’s collection of sterling silver coffee pots, bowls, tureens and more. With over 40 guests in all, the lunch included a 3-course menu by candlelight:

From Dominik Hartmann:
Tomatensalat mit Himbeeren, Stangensellerie und fermentiertem Tomaten-Sud
Tomato salad with raspberries, celery stalks and fermented tomato broth

A fresh tomato salad with a crunchy topping and celery granita on the side from Dominik Hartmann.

From Mitja Birjo:
Iberico Presa mit Kohl und Mole
Iberico Presa with cabbage and mole

A spicy Mexican-inspired mole with Spanish pork from Mitja Birjo.

From Mattias Roock:
Yuzo Zitrone-Gelato all’yougurt Ticinese-Pistacchio
Yuzo Zitrone-Ticinese yoghurt-pistachio ice cream

Chef Mattias Roock plating his dessert course.

The preview lunch exceeded my expectations with dishes that were fresh, colorful and full of flavor. First, the memorable vegetarian starter from Dominick Hartmann was both surprising and innovative. Next, Mitja Birjo brought some much-appreciated heat with his Mexican-inspired mole. Finally, the dessert from Mattias Roock was both eye-catching and delicious, with its bright, acidic citrus notes. It had a satisfying combination of sweetness with the acidity of the yuzu fruit and a myriad of textures.

As demonstrated by this preview lunch, the “Swiss Made” theme for next year’s gourmet festival will showcase Switzerland’s multi-faceted fine dining scene, all in one spectacular location.

How to purchase tickets to the St. Moritz Gourmet Festival 2022:

The full program for the gourmet festival is now available, and ticket sales will begin online on November 8, 2021.

Photo credits: Daniel Martinek / St. Moritz Gourmet Festival.

Updated: November 10, 2021

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