Dominik Hartmann has had a meteoric rise to the top of Switzerland’s fine dining scene. Since opening his Magdalena restaurant in May 2020, it has already earned two Michelin stars. Now, with the recent announcement that the restaurant in Rickenberg (Schwyz) has moved to a vegetarian concept, it becomes the first two-starred restaurant in Europe to do so.
At the St. Moritz Gourmet Festival this year, with its “Swiss Made” theme, Hartmann served a 5-course vegetarian Gourmet Dîner at Badrutt’s Palace. He had originally planned on preparing fish at the festival. After a discussion with the hotel’s general manager, however, they decided instead to present an entirely vegetarian menu. As a result, the St Moritz Gourmet Festival gave Hartmann a chance to showcase his new approach to a new audience.
Magdalena – Working Among Friends
Working in collaboration with Maxime Luvara, the executive chef at Badrutt’s Palace, Hartmann brought a team of his colleagues from Magdalena, including Marco Appert. Childhood friends, Hartmann and Appert always dreamed of one day owning their own restaurant. Today, they are partners with Hartmann’s wife, Adriana, in operating what has become one of Switzerland’s culinary hot spots.
I asked Hartmann about the first time he ate at a Michelin-starred restaurant. It happened after he finished his apprenticeship. His parents took him to the Hôtel de Ville de Crissier, when it was under the direction of Chef Philippe Rochat. Consistently recognized as one of the finest restaurants in the world, the experience left a mark on him. In addition, his time at Schloss Schauenstein and EquiTable with Fabian Fuchs also formed a lasting impression.
Today, living above Magdalena helps Hartmann manage work-life balance, especially considering that he and Adrianna are parenting two children under the age of three. In the future, he would like to expand his restaurant to include a lounge, perhaps with some outdoor seating, allowing guests to enjoy drinks and snacks before and after their meal. He has a down-to-earth way about him, while at the same time remaining highly driven.
Establishing a plant-driven menu at his restaurant offers endless options for creativity and innovation, which he seems eager to tackle. “It’s more interesting for us and and a challenge to work just with vegetables and plant-based ingredients,” he said. His focus on ultra-local and seasonal ingredients also sets a standard for sustainability.
Hartmann’s Gourmet Dîner at Badrutt’s Palace
The chef’s menu at the St. Moritz Gourmet Festival highlighted winter vegetables, such as roots and cabbages. I dined at IGNIV on the second night of Hartmann’s 5-night stint at Badrutt’s Palace. The kitchen hummed with activity. Small, crusty loaves of Magdi bread contained mashed Albula potatoes and were served with homemade butter and dandelion honey. You can find his sourdough bread both at his restaurant and also his pop-up bakery in Schwyz.
To kick off the meal, a tiny beetroot-hued pâte à choux arrived as part of a trio of amuse-bouche. I sipped an umami-laden cabbage broth, served alongside a mushroom and celery root tartelette. For the first course, the rainbow of colors continued. Hartmann used butternut and Hokkaido squash for the first dish, which had a bright, acidic orange sauce flavored with verbena.
Just before the main course arrived, Hartmann’s onion dish took this simple vegetable to another level. The delicate kimchi broth with only mild heat hid almonds beneath its surface. In the middle, an onion sliced in half and seared to reveal its multiple layers.
The main course offered another first for me—chervil root. First, the root soaks in a bath made from koji and miso for several days. Then, they dehydrate the root for about 20 hours, to remove some of its moisture and to concentrate its flavors. The texture reminded me of a sweet potato, and with a rich sauce made with lingonberries, I thoroughly enjoyed this meatless main dish.
Leading Europe’s Vegetarian Fine Dining Scene
Overall, the dishes served during Hartmann’s Gourmet Dîner at the festival surprised and delighted. With winter produce options, some might consider the month of January a challenging time to introduce a vegetarian concept. However, Hartmann and his team delivered a unique and delicious menu for the St. Moritz Gourmet Festival with innovative ingredients and methods. Hartmann enjoys making dishes that taste as beautiful as they look with skills he learned through his culinary education and on-the-job training from highly regarded Swiss chefs. It will be exciting to see what dishes he creates as time goes on and new produce comes in season. With an abundance of creativity, energy and enthusiasm, he has quickly become a European leader in vegetarian fine dining.
St. Mortiz Gourmet Festival, Woehrle / Pirola Events & Public Relations, +41 (0)44 245 86 94, email@example.com
Magadelena, Rickenbachstrasse 127, 6432 Rickenbach, +41 (0)41 810 06 06, firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note: I attended the Gourmet Dîner at Badrutt’s Palace as a guest of the St. Moritz Gourmet Festival. As always, the thoughts and opinions expressed in this article are purely my own.