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Swiss Excellence at the St. Moritz Gourmet Festival 2022 – Tobias Funke and the Pacman dish

My personal highlight: A delicate dish called “Pacman” made with a layer of corn catches all of my attention

We waited for so long and couldn’t be more excited to finally attend the 28th edition of St. Moritz Gourmet Festival in the upper Engadine! This year’s festival was dedicated to Swiss Chefs with the aim to specifically support the country’s top gastronomy and the producers as well as suppliers of fantastic regional products.

At the center of the program with different events as gourmet dinners and tastings were celebrity guest chefs, such as Tanja Grandits and top chefs Markus Arnold, Mitja Birlo, Stéphane Décotterd, Tobias Funke, Dominik Hartmann, Stefan Heilemann, Patrick Mahler, Heiko Nieder and Mattias Roock. Lovefoodish had the pleasure to attend the Gourmet Dinner of Chef Tobias Funke (Restaurant Incantare, Heiden)  and Chef Markus Arnold (Restaurant Steinhalle, Bern).

Gourmet Dinner Experience with Chef Tobias Funke -Restaurant Incantare (2 Michelin starred), Heiden at Saratz Hotel, Giodi Vegetarian and Co., Pontresina

Chef Tobias Funke -Executive Chef and Managing Director of Gasthaus zur Fernsicht Heiden and his staff took over the kitchen of the renewed vegetarian Restaurant Giodi located in the Hotel Saratz, Pontresina for a week to spoil all Festival guests with his culinary and complex cuisine. Funke’s passion consists in constantly creating new compositions using international, specifically selected or cultivated products with mainly local ingredients following a nose-to-tail philosophy. He likes cooking with cuts of meats that are not so well-known, this makes his signature dish is the “Challans Duck breast: A sandwich of heart with an onion stick. According to Funke the biggest challenge at the Festival was to adapt to a different kitchen setup – they brought all of their ingredients from their Restaurant in Heiden.
The menu represented a real piece of fresh and delicate art discovered bite by bite. Every dish came accompanied by beautiful illustration cards created by his friend Massimo Milano, The illustrations explain the ingredients used in every dish. What a great idea getting mentally prepared to read the story of each dish before the cutlery guides the bite into my mouth!

A dish inspired by a video game – and a plate to lick!

My first culinary highlight was the amuse-bouche representing broccoli in 4 different ways and the text: Läck Mii (lick me) that according to Tobias Funke should bring us back to the time as a kid when we used to lick up the plate when we liked something a lot. And yes, that’s the way I ate the amuse-bouche of course.

The second highlight was the “Pacman” dish – also this reminded me of my childhood and the videogames! I was impressed by how thin and elastic the shape of the Pacman, the taste was a little sweet and delicate. Tobias Funke used a corn base for the Pacman, the sides were bulgur and eggplant.

The dessert called “The Stone” was an absolute joy, too. Little tiny cut cubes of granny-smith apple with a base of roasted rye, yogurt, and parsley ice cream made me fly to heaven! The bit sour and sweet taste was a delight.

All dishes were served in beautiful hand-made pottery that is created exclusively for the restaurant by a local artist. The menu was accompanied by wines of course. Another very special experience was the paired non-alcoholic drink offer, which was put together by the sommelier of the Hotel Saratz! Absolutely fantastic idea to enjoy an elegant wild quince Juice or a Green Dragon Lung Ching Green Tea with the dishes.

The vision of a Swiss Chef and entrepreneur

Talking to Tobias Funke made me understand, that he is a full-time entrepreneur and Chef. He takes care of the social media accounts himself, has a webshop where you can buy several products, leads Cooking classes for team buildings at his restaurant, and always has ideas ready as a pop-up hotel or the cozy gondola village for an incomparable fondue experience  (open only in winter) at his Restaurant Fernsicht. We also talked about the image of Swiss Cuisine in the world and I can only support his view, that Switzerland has much more to offer than Chocolate and Cheese. There are many high-level gastronomes (as we could experience during the whole St. Moritz Gourmetfestival) that develop innovative, sophisticated, and holistic food concepts. Maybe we just need some more acknowledgment from national media to bring this Swiss culinary message out to the world.

About the complex Zur Fernsicht in Heiden:

Heiden is a village in the region of Appenzell. The Gasthaus zur Fernsicht lies at the Constance Lake. Find two restaurants in the old factory owner’s villa: the Incantare (two Michelin stars, 17 Gault Millau points) and the Swiss Alpine (Bib Gourmand). Tobias Funke is one of the first chefs to receive a green star, by the way, the restaurant Guide Michelin gives this green star to particularly sustainable restaurants.

Thank you St.Moritz Gourmetfestival, Tobias Funke, and the staff at Hotel Saratz for this unforgettable dinner!

Read here more about the experience at Nira Alpina Hotel/Silvaplana with Chef Markus Arnold (Steinhalle Bern), my second Gourmet Dinner night at St. Moritz Gourmetfestival 2022.

Presstrip – St. Moirtz Gourmetfestival

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Palermo & beyond food tour experience in 4 days

My personal highlight: Eating warm ricotta cheese liquid and fresh coming directly from the pot – a foodie’s once in a lifetime experience

Planning a trip with a friend bringing you to his hometown means: be ready for plenty surprises. It’s the best way to discover a place. Who loves the feeling of getting lost and feel welcomed from locals. Read more about what happened to me during the trip in Sicily this may.

My friend asked me what I would love to do and see in Palermo. My reply was simple: it has to do with food! That is why the city welcomed me with a traditional brioche gelato! Have you ever tried a soft sweet bread filled up to the top with artisan ice cream? Well, than that is the first thing to do in Palermo! Ice Cream Sandwich! Get the best one at Brioscià. What you get here is absolutely outstanding. Don’t forget to ask for a special topping! That is what makes this brioche gelato unique.

Streetfood & morning stroll at the food market ballarò

Welcome to Palermo! Here the duty is to go for snaking through the city blocks southeast of Palazzo dei Normanni. I guess it’s Palermo’s busiest street market. The mix of noises, smells and street life is fascinating. It’s the cheapest place for fresh prepared food, souvenirs, Chinese padded bras. Get regional and national food products as olives, salami or cheese. The absolute must try and healthy snack is a long pumpkin with lemon juice on top.

Palermo: A splendor of an Arab-Norman-Byzantine Culture

Strolling through the city makes you understand how many different cultures have influenced the city. 2 1/2 centuries of Arab rule (from 827 BC at the end of the Eleventh century) gave to the city of Palermo magnificent palaces, mosques, minarets and gardens. After the Normans took possession of this splendor. Today, the heritages of these two cultures are intertwined and indistinguishable. Creating the so-called Arab-Norman style. The influence is reflected also in the food. This makes all my discoveries vey precious!

Palermo has a unique flair, there is no lovelier experience than sitting on a square in front of one of the beautiful churches, be surrounded by live musicians making you forget time.

Where to have artisan & local made Sicilian dishes

Osteria Mangia & Bevi – La cucina che parla siciliano (The kitchen that talks in Sicilian)

Get a diversity of typical dishes as the Pasta fritta (fried pasta served in a pan) or the Bucatini con sarde alla Palermitana, this is dedicated to sardine lover!

If you like to stay with a starters plate choose out of their veggie, fish or meat appetizers and order different plates to share!

Antica Focacceria San Francesco – Panino con la milza (Sandwich with veal spleen)

The street food of Antica Focacceria San Francesco is suitable for any time of the day: Here is where you need to try the Palermitan Speciality made following a tradition from 1834 called Focaccia Maritata (married focaccia) It’s a soft bread filled with veal spleen, fresh ricotta and caciocavallo cheese. The spleen is prepared in a big pot, slow cooked for hours until it gets super tender. It was my first spleen ever eaten in my life! Absolutely recommend this dish! If you love to go for a classical snack, take the Arancina with ragù  (fried, rice stuffed with meat ragout and peas).

Travel suggestions – how we did it

Fly from Zurich to Palermo or take to train to Milan, enjoy a half day in the city and fly to Palermo from there. You will spend max 150 Euro depending on the time of booking. I always love to use skyscanner to check my flights in advance by the way! For the accommodation I recommend to use airbnb, there are really lovely apartments

More discoveries in Sicily: the village of Castelbuono

When traveling big cities there is always the desire to see small authentic villages. Having the privilege that my best friend Annasole is from Castelbuono gave me perfect excuse discover this spot on my Sicily journey, too.

Castelbuono is a 10’000 hab medieval village in the Park of Madonie. It’s about 90 km from Palermo and very close to the Thyrrhenian City of  CefalùThe old town is still well preserved and captivates you from the very first moment. The town develops around the castle of Ventimiglia, near a Byzantine hamlet called Ypsigro. The village is a paradise for foodies. Beside excellent Michelin Star restaurants as Nangalarruni or Palazzaccio you can find the well-known pastry producer Fiasconaro. They’re famous for excellent nougat, creams and  panettone filled with delicious creams made of the mana ash-tree or pistachio.

Visiting Castelbuono with a local friend made my wish come true. I got introduced to the production of ricotta cheese. Standing in the small cheese dairy San Nicola with the father and son of the company was my personal highlight. Yes, the smell is intense, but the taste of this still hot and liquid creamy cheese reaching my mouth, indispensable.

An other adventure on the private food tour was the visit of the biscuit manufacture Tumminiello.

Italian have a typical way to make breakfast, a coffee and some biscotti! This is how I grew up.

Tumminiello uses all local ingredients, less sugar and aromatize mostly of their biscuits with Sicilian products oranges or lemons. Find all of their selection here.

A funny fact about Castelbuono you should know

The village is the only one in the world that uses a very unique way to clean-up their waste. It’s a Zero Waste project by the help of donkeys! They have managed to develop an innovative system to marry sustainability, social work and economics. A traditional donkey-breed from Sicily called Ragusa collects waste in narrow streets!A funny fact about Castelbuono

In the mood for a cost trip – Choose Cefalù

Cefalù is notable for beautiful sunsets and unpretentious charming restaurants located in beautiful alleys. One of Cefalù’s magnets for tourists is the duomo. An imposing two-towered Norman cathedral. This building mighty dominates the historical centre. The piazza with restaurants and coffee’s invites to have a stop and enjoy the vibes of the city. Find plenty artisan shops, too around the village to buy your favorite souvenir.

In the mood to read about my travels and get inspired? Find more stories here!

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STORIESZurich Blogging

Chef Alps 2018 International Cooking Summit Zurich

My personal highlight: Experiencing the Chefs on the stage not only as creative minds but as mentors. Taking home the message of living passionate and be playful.

This year’s edition of Chef Alps – The International Cooking Summit in Zurich – showed once more how strongly Chefs can motivate the gastronomy world by touching the right buttons. It’s not only about creating esthetically perfectly arranged plates, it’s about how to get to a result. Every Chef on the stage in my opinion confirmed on his own way, that no matter if in the kitchen or not, crucial ingredients of a complete recipe are passion combined with fun. If you never attended this gastronomic Swiss highlight you should consider planning it for 2019 right now! On one hand you get inspiration from various cultures for the preparation of  creative plates. On the other hand you get introduced to life philosophies to be used inside and outside a kitchen! Further there is the chance to exchange knowledge with same minded people and explore product novelties from gastronomic companies in a lovely arranged market hall.

My delights from Chef Alps – Day 1

Chef Ryan Clift & Head Bartender Joe Schofield, Restaurant Tippling Club, Singapore –

Ever heard about a restaurant where cocktails are paired with food and exceptional progressive concepts are created from Food Specialists Physicians, Chemists, Doctors, Psychologist and Parfumer working all together? Welcome to Tippling Club in Singapore. A  place that offers modern, fun and fresh gastronomy.

Here you get gummy bears that are created with flavors and odors related to feelings as love, happiness, success or peace for example. The gummy bears all made with different ingredients incl. alcohol extracts as champagne, gin, whiskey or rum is what we got as a surprise under our chair. These gummy bears paired with sophisticated cocktails fulfills the dream of every guest that seeks the extraordinary.

Did you know how space smells like in theory?

We are all fascinated about the stripes handed over that indicate how space smells! An extract of the odor of a spacesuit. If you sniff the spaceship on your card, you’ll find out what space smells like,” said Clift, adding that he was once commissioned by NASA to take a space-worn astronaut’s suit and put it through a mass spectrometer used to analyze scents for perfumes. That is how he could determine the scent of space. So viral how relaxed and amused Ryan and Joe explain all of these stories to us. I get the point that here much fun is paired with hours of experiments. It is a pleasure to feel the lust and durst for such progressive avant-garde cuisine and equally inventive cocktails.
Mentally I drift away to another sphere. Can’t wait to travel to Singapore and experience more of this! Or maybe we will soon have Tippling Club in Zurich, who knows!

Chef Titti Qvarnström, Sweden

A woman Chef from Sweden with a humble and humorous personality. I start to laugh of course when she makes a joke that the souvenir she brought home from her time living in Germany is her husband. He supports her in the kitchen and works with her on the stage!

She introduces a simple rustic dish typically from the South of Sweden. Her husband prepares fried hasselback potatoes and combined with an elegant elements as Roggen caviar and a Crème fraîche. While Titti shares with us plenty of stories of her childhood and challenging career situations as a woman Chef her husband is active on the stage in preparing the delicacies.

We all smile when she gives into the plenary a jar containing fresh cream and asks one person to start shaking it and hand it over until we get fresh butter! This butter is used for the fresh rye bread with sour milk, malt and the home made anise herb mix she prepares herself. The passion for an experimental natural cuisine Titti follows in her restaurant is based on her childhood memories of forest visits with her father. He is the person that showed her which natural treasures are suitable for consumption.

Chef Nicolai Nørregaard – Restaurant Kadeau Bornholm & Kopenhagen (DK) –

The program continuous with some more nordic Cuisine. Coming from a country where you spent most of the time outside, it is essential to work with every element given. He uses fir seedlings in a dish for example. On the stage with his sous Chef he prepared 6 different dishes with a admirable elegance and tranquility. Observing Chef Nicolai during his preparations comes over as a meditation.

A dish presented is a pickled & grilled pumpkin glazed with a quince sirop decorated with some fried rose petals and red ants that give sourness to the plate. Another plate: a smoked salmon where combined with figs that grow even in a climate as the island of Bornholm. The island of Borholm is located 180 kilometers from the coast nearby the Baltic Sea. A paradise for nature lover. We all fall into the silence and enjoy the show!

Dominique Persoone – The Chocolate Line, Brügge/Belgium –

I am happy that the end of day 1 was solved by passionate Michelin Star Chocolatier! Very impatient holding a wonderful purple box in my hands I waited the instructions of Dominique Persoone to open it! A gift for him to the attendees of Chef Alps. Persoone cultivates his own criollo varieties. They use best ingredients and also care about sustainable projects as bee keeping. They harvest liquid gold to incorporate it in their fabulous assortment.

Chocolate wouldn’t be rock and roll if we didn’t try something out of the ordinary.

I experience the Chocolate Master as a showman, actor and life motivator. No wonder he is also called shock-o-latier. More than his craziness, its his way of approaching tasks that impresses me. What made me smirk was the way he always looked had his wife during the show mentioning her support and influence in plenty of the realized ideas.

How to properly taste chocolate

Take the piece of chocolate in your hand, temper it, nose at it and than slowly let it melt on your tongue (Obviously I put it directly in my mouth and swallowed it whole). Switzerland has lovely chocolate, tough Swiss Chocolatier should try to roast the beans less, the aroma of the cocoa can get much more complexity if it gets less roasted.

Some projects I love to link to that come of his kitchen are the chocolate lip stick, and the chocolate shooter. Even the Queen Rania from Jordan asked for that gadget while she was visiting the Chocolate Shop of Persoone in Belgium. You get cocoa power shot directly into your nares with that machine. Check that Youtube Movie to see more!

I look very much forward to the 2019 Edition of Chef Alps and would like to thank you the team of Woehlre Pirola for the excellent organization and possibility given to attend this unique Summit. Don’t miss the Chef Alps Youtube Channel to see all shows in full length.

In the mood to read more stories of Lovefoodish? Get more here.

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