We catch up with the former chef of the Mövenpick Hotel
Time Out Bahrain staff
Where are you from? I’m from the German part of Switzerland, Zurich, the banking capital. I came to Bahrain because of my company, Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts. Before that I was in Lebanon, Jordan and Kuwait working for other Mövenpick Hotels. I have been in Bahrain for four months now.
How are you finding Bahrain? It’s good, it’s very small and it is easy to get around. I like the Bahraini people, they are warm and they like to mix with other nationalities, which in my experience is quite rare in the region.
You used to be a chef. What first got you into the kitchen? In fact it was my mother. She used to cook so well and I admired her style. I did an apprenticeship for three years, and then I went to Bermuda as a chef and then to the USA, but eventually I decided I wanted to leave the heat of the kitchen and get more into the managerial side of things, so I went to hotel management school in Switzerland.
What do you miss most about being a chef? I love the creativity of being in the kitchen, but if you work for a long time there, you feel physically drained by the heat. In the end the main reason for not continuing in the kitchen was the fact that I missed the contact and interaction with people. I gave my career a twist and worked as a restaurant manager in Russia soon after Perestroika in 1992 which was really interesting, and then I managed one of the biggest nightclubs in Moscow for three years. What ingredient is hardest to find in Bahrain? Nothing is hard to find once, but lots of things are hard to find at all times and which are of the same quality. It might be here one day and then not for the next three months, and no one knows why.
What do you cook at home? Being a general manager of a five star hotel means being around delicious food all day long in the hotel and then coming home late, so I enjoy a simple but fresh salad. At the weekends we tend to prepare some Swiss dishes and we love a barbecue in our garden.
With the exception of fondue, what is Swiss food? Switzerland is very diverse, we have three languages, and our food is influenced by the three different cultures, the Italians, the French and the Germans, so our cuisine reflects this. But I like continental food, hearty stuff, like roast with gravy, stews, roesti potatoes.
What piece of kitchen equipment could you not live without? The stove! How do you rate the local Bahraini cuisine? It is pretty much the same as I have experienced in other Middle East countries. But what I am impressed with is the quality of restaurants in places like Adliya. I haven’t found this in other countries where you usually have to go to hotel restaurants to get this quality of food.
Who would you most like to cook for? The French master chef Paul Bocuse, just to see how he would judge my cooking.
What’s your top cooking tip? Try to be natural, don’t always try to follow the recipes. Cook with feeling and not just with books. What recipe have you decided to share with us and why? Traditional fondue. We Swiss like to think fondue is from Switzerland, but the French have claimed it and the Austrians believe they had a part in it, but it is Switzerland’s national dish. The beauty of fondue is that it is very easy and quick to prepare. I hate complicated recipes, so this is perfect for people like me. The best thing is, you can get everything in Bahrain with ease. Alternatively, you can enjoy fondue at the Swiss station every Friday brunch at the Mövenpick Hotel Bahrain.
Serves 3 Ingredients 300g Gruyere cheese 300g Vacherin Fibourgoise cheese (if you can’t get this, opt for Swiss Emmenthal) 350ml grape beverage (or apple juice) 2 cloves of garlic 1tbsp potato starch 30ml kirschwasser 1 large baguette, sliced in cubes Salt and pepper
Method 1 Grate the cheese and keep one side 2 Rub the garlic cloves on the bottom of the fondue pot 3 Heat the grape beverage (best is Swiss, French is a good alternative). 4 When it begins to simmer, add the grated cheese slowly and stir for around 10 minutes until all the cheese has melted. 5 Add some freshly ground black pepper and salt 6 Mix the kirschwasser with a tablespoon of potato starch and pour into the melted cheese 7 Stir for another five minutes on a very low heat 8 Serve with the baguette bread. Friday brunch at the Mövenpick Hotel Bahrain. For reservations, call 17 460 0 00.