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Chef’s on tour: Josh Eggleton returns to Zurich

Chefs on tour: Josh Eggleton returns to Zurich

Great British Chefs 11 June 2019

In the space of a few short years, Zurich has gone from being a culinary diamond in the rough to a full-blown star of the European food scene. We returned to Switzerland with Michelin-starred chef Josh Eggleton in tow, ready to uncover more of this incredible city.

With a history that stretches back over two thousand years, Zurich is an ancient, beautiful city. As you walk through the city streets, magnificent architecture looms overhead – grand old hotels and towering cathedrals cast long shadows over the cobbled streets, and old stone fountains flow with drinking water, as they have done for hundreds of years. The Limmat River – so clean you can happily swim in it – flows through the city as it did in Roman times, when the city was not called Zurich, but Turicum.

History and architecture isn’t the only reason to visit Zurich, though – it is rapidly building a reputation as one of Europe’s most interesting food destinations. When we visited last year with Michelin-starred chef Josh Eggleton, we discovered a flourishing culinary scene that perfectly balanced old and new. Traditional chocolatiers and bakeries sit happily alongside more progressive businesses – like the award-winning Turicum Gin distillery.

In 2019 we were back once again, with Josh in tow, to explore more of Zurich’s exciting food scene. Here's what we got up to.

After a very gentle touchdown in Zurich, we were straight off to the ChefAlps 2019 Conference – an annual international chef summit where some of Europe’s best and brightest talents come to the city to demonstrate their cooking techniques and dishes. Chefs such as Massimo Bottura, Ana Roš, Esben Holmboe Bang and Vladimir Mukhin have visited in recent years. This year’s line up was no less impressive, with three exceptional young talents taking the stage – Søren Selin of two-Michelin-starred AOC in Copenhagen; Karime Lopez from Gucci Osteria da Massimo Bottura in Florence and Syrco Bakker of Pure C Restaurant in Cadzand, Netherlands.

From the ChefAlps exhibition centre, it was a short trip down the road to visit the marvellous Taucherli Chocolatier. There are few cities in the world, if any, that are as famous for chocolate-making as Zurich, and Taucherli is undoubtedly one of the most exciting new names in the business, after picking up multiple awards at last year’s International Chocolate Awards. Though Google lists Taucherli as a ‘chocolate factory’, the reality is anything but – this unassuming bean-to-bar producer is housed on the ground floor of a residential block. Taucherli owner Kay Keusen bought the company a few years ago with little to no experience in chocolate-making, and has quickly made a name for himself in Zurich and beyond.

Kay enlists a bit of help from time to time – he employs pensioners to help him wrap the chocolate bars and he has an apprentice that comes in for a few hours a week – but for the most part, he does everything at Taucherli himself, from roasting the cocoa beans to conching, tempering and moulding. Though Kay makes some traditional-style chocolate bars, Taucherli has become famous for it experimentation and for injecting a bit of fun into chocolate – the business makes bars with popping candy, as well as the famous ruby chocolate developed by fellow Zurich chocolatier Barry Callebaut.

If you’re looking for breakfast in Zurich on a Tuesday morning, you can’t go wrong at the Bürkliplatz Market. It’s named after city engineer Arnold Bürkli, who built the lakeside park between 1882 and 1887. Today, the park houses a flower and food market every Tuesday and a flea market on Saturdays. Producers come from all over the city to set up and sell their produce in the park – the scent of cut flowers fills the air, and there’s a bounty of incredible cheese, bread and cold cuts for sale. With Lake Zurich right next to you, it's a perfect spot to have a bite to eat.

As Lake Zurich glistens in the morning sun, we head back into town with full bellies towards one of the city’s oldest wine producers. Zweifel Weine started producing wine in the fifteenth century, but when the 'Great French Wine Blight' wiped out their vineyards in the mid-nineteenth century, the Zweifel family were forced to look to other means of survival. Instead, they planted orchards of apple trees and started making ciders and vinegars. It wasn’t until 1968 that they started making wine once again, but today they’re back in business as Zurich’s only remaining family winemaker, producing a number of local wines, including a variety of rieslings, red wines and fortified wines too.

The Zweifel family is also familiar to many for making crisps – when American troops left Europe after World War Two, they left Europe with a taste for potato chips. Zweifel used to deliver fresh crisps in bright orange vans, and the bright orange packaging and familiar ‘Z’ logo remain on the company's crisps to this day.

After a short wine tasting it was time for lunch at Restaurant Spritzwerk – an old industrial spray paint factory housing three different food trucks. With a well-stocked bar in the middle and lots of offices nearby, Spritzwerk is heaving with people most days. It’s a perfect encapsulation of Zurich’s younger, trendier side.

The Dolder Grand in Zurich’s Hottingen district is one of Switzerland’s most impressive hotels. Built in 1899, it has housed the likes of Nelson Mandela, Michael Jackson, Henry Kissinger, John Wayne, Sophia Loren and Winston Churchill over the course of its illustrious history. The hotel was refurbished by Norman Foster between 2004 and 2008 – the internationally renowned architect stripped the famous hotel back to its original facade, removing all the annexes built after 1899. Since reopening in 2008, the hotel epitomises Zurich in many ways – mixing beautiful old architectural styling with modern design and aesthetics.

The Dolder Grand also contains one of the finest restaurants in the country – the two-Michelin-starred restaurant run by head chef Heiko Nieder. Heiko served us a short tasting menu, comprising of a selection of snacks and three courses. Heiko’s creations have earned him numerous accolades, including most recently GaultMillau Chef of the Year 2019.

With so much incredible produce around him, Heiko says that most of his dish ideas are produce driven – he formulates the ideas in his head based on flavour combinations, then tweaks them once they’re on the menu. Because guests come to The Dolder Grand especially to eat Heiko’s food, he only changes the menu five times a year to ensure that guests all get to try certain dishes.

After a delicious lunch and friendly chat with Heiko, we headed on to the Food Zurich Festival Centre, where we were met by Food Zurich founder Simon Mouttet. Zurich’s street food scene continues to grow at a remarkable pace, and with his Food Zurich initiative, Simon is right at the heart of things.

Food Zurich is a two-week-long extravaganza where the whole city turns into a culinary mecca, celebrating gastronomy with hundreds of workshops, demonstrations, dinners and food tours. Though Food Zurich takes hold all over the city, the Festival Centre is the heart of things – it’s right next to the main station in Zurich and easily accessible for anyone visiting the city. With a central bar and plenty of street food up for grabs, it’s the perfect place to relax with friends for a bite to eat, but there are workshops to take part in too – jot your name down on the big chalkboard and you can get involved with some cooking.

Our time in Zurich was coming to a close, but we still had a day to enjoy a few sights outside the main city centre. We hit the road for breakfast at Juckerfarm in Seegräben, where a working farm supplies a big buffet restaurant with mountains of beautiful fresh vegetables. Juckerfarm is part of a collective of three farms – they all club together to stock the farm shops at each location with a huge selection of fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as jams, pickles, cordials and the like. Juckerfarm specialises in apples, pears, blueberries and pumpkins – in fact, it made a name for itself as a pumpkin farm! With acres and acres of beautiful countryside and three different mazes (one of which is solely made up of apple trees), it’s the perfect space to escape city life.

Flight departure times loomed large, but fortunately the Steinfels Brewery was on our route back to the airport, and what better place to celebrate a wonderful trip to Zurich! Situated in the heart of the trendy Züri West neighbourhood, Steinfels brews beer in the area behind the bar itself, and has a compact selection on tap – usually a lager, a pilsner, an IPA, a saison and a wheat beer.

After a few cold beverages though, it was finally time to bid adieu to wonderful Zurich. Though the likes of London, Paris, Rome and Madrid still hold a mighty pedigree for food tourists, there's no question that Zurich is right up there with the best of them as a culinary destination.

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Chefs on tour: Josh Eggleton returns to Zurich

 
 

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