In keeping with the “Swiss Made” theme, the Hotel Saratz invited Tobias Funke as its guest chef for the St. Moritz Gourmet Festival 2022. Recognized with two Michelin star for his Incantare restuarant at Gasthaus zur Fernsicht in Heiden, Funke serves as Executive Chef and Managing Director of this culinary destination. He has a reputation for quality and sustainability, and his unique dishes bring an intensity of flavor and artistry.
During the festival, Funke took up temporary residence at Chef Kari Walker’s Giodi restaurant from January 28 to February 1, 2022. As always, a major benefit for the guest chefs is also the opportunity to network with other chefs and industry professionals. For five nights at the Hotel Saratz, he treated guests to a 7-course Gourmet Dîner. I attended one of these dinners and spoke with him the following day about his experience at the festival.
The Historic Hotel Saratz in Pontresina
The Hotel Saratz was one of 10 hotels participating in the St. Moritz Gourmet Festival this year. Located in Pontresina, this 4-star hotel first opened as a guesthouse in 1865. Then, it expanded to a hotel a decade later. Accessible by train, the hotel has a comfortable elegance and family friendly atmosphere. Hotel guests have access to its spa and wellness activities, which include both indoor and outdoor pools.
In terms of dining options, Hotel Saratz has two full-service restaurants and its lobby bar. The Art Nouveau Dining Room is open for breakfast and dinner, and Giodi opens daily for dinner, except on Sundays and Mondays. I recommend trying Chef Kari Walker’s vegetarian version of Capuns, a regional Graubünden specialty, which you’ll find at Giodi.
Funke’s Gourmet Dîner at Giodi Restaurant
On the second night of the festival, I found my seat in one of the cozy wood-paneled dining rooms at Giodi. Soon after, the server arrived with a stack of cards decorated with colorful drawings of all the ingredients. Then, as each dish arrived, the corresponding card would be put on display. Funke’s friend Massimo Milano, who he’s played soccer with for 30 years, creates these illustrations reminding you of the whole ingredients used to prepare the meal.
To kick off the meal, the amuse-bouche featured broccoli in four different ways. I was immediately struck by the plate with the Swiss-German words that read “Läck Mii!” (Lick me!). He took his inspiration for this whimsical dish from Chef Gaggan Anand’s “Lick it Up.” Funke told me, “It brings you back to the time when you were a child and you lick the plate. The world is always so serious. And sometimes you need a break from this.”
As the night went on, his sense of humor also came through with the fourth dish. Named “Pac Man,” this surprising dish had a thin, yellow disk made from corn that resembled this famous video game character. Its mouth was agape, as if trying to eat the tasty little morsels nearby made from bulgur and eggplant.
From Soccer Player to Michelin-Starred Chef
Originally, Funke wanted to become a professional soccer player. However, time spent with his uncle who worked as a chef, convinced him otherwise. Today, he prepares delicate and flavorful dishes with thoughtfully sourced ingredients at Gasthaus zur Fernsicht.
His culinary complex is located in Heiden, a village of about 4,000 people in Switzerland’s Appenzell region. Along with Incantare, this complex also has his Swiss Alpine Restaurant, the Fernsicht bar and a guesthouse. In the winter, he hosts a fondue restaurant—this year reinvented as pandemic-friendly fondue gondolas. In the summer, there’s a pop-up hotel, which he plans to expand into year-round overnight accommodations.
Many of Funke’s ingredients come from a local farmer, whom Funke shares seeds with and sometimes requests non-typically Swiss ingredients. For example, one of his dishes contained Yacon Morado. This Peruvian vegetable is related to the Jerusalem artichoke. The chef paired it with tender sweetbreads, black truffles and winter purslane. He likes cooking with lesser-known cuts of meat in Switzerland. Second cuts like skirt steak and offal (e.g., beef heart and liver) regularly appear on his menu. Given these sustainable practices, Funke’s Incantare is the only restaurant in Eastern Switzerland to earn a Michelin Green star.
Celebrating a “Swiss Made” Theme
Named “Wirt des Jahres” (Host of the Year) by Falstaff magazine in 2021, Tobias Funke exemplifies the “Swiss Made” theme of this year’s St. Moritz Gourmet Festival. Above all, this festival continues to attract top talent and delivers exciting fine dining experiences. Looking inward and showcasing some of the best chefs working here in Switzerland, the festival reminds us that this country has an impressive number of highly acclaimed restaurants that deserve our support.
For more information:
St. Mortiz Gourmet Festival, Woehrle / Pirola Events & Public Relations, +41 (0)44 245 86 94, firstname.lastname@example.org
Hotel Saratz, Via da la Staziun 2, 7504 Pontresina, +41 (0)81 839 40 00, email@example.com
Gasthaus zur Fernsicht, Seeallee 10, 9410 Heiden, +41 (0)71 89 40 40, firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note: I stayed at the Hotel Saratz for two nights as a guest of the St. Moritz Gourmet Festival. As always, the thoughts and opinions expressed in this article are purely my own.