Geneva’s Hôtel de la Paix is French area promotion of the year
Sommelier of the Year: Jérôme Aké Béda
BASEL, SWITZERLAND – Basel has the latest addition to Switzerland’s extraordinary collection of fine wine and food locations, with chef Peter Knogl named by Gault & Millau as its Swiss Chef of the Year 2015 at awards Tuesday 7 October in Basel. Knogl heads the kitchen team at the riverfront Trois Rois five-star hotel.
His 19 points out of 20 puts him in the rarefied air of only six other Swiss chefs, and he is the first ever chef to run a hotel restaurant and to earn the top points honour.
Ed. note: some chefs, such as Didier de Courten in Sierre, head restaurants that have small hotels as an extension of the restaurant.
The 2015 Swiss Gault & Millau guides go on sale in Switzerland today: just under CHF40 and 50 for the separate French and German editions. The guide provides details on 841 restaurants. Eighty-three chefs have gained an additional point and the guide includes 70 new addresses. Twenty-six restaurants saw their points lowered.
Knogl’s famous old hotel hosted the awards in Basel Monday, with 75 guests that included other winners of top awards and 19/20 points as well as food and wine journalists.
Six other chefs win special honours
An affordable restaurant in St Gallen is home to the Female Chef of the Year, Bernadette Lisibach at Neue Blumenau in Lommenschwil, with 16 points. The young and independent-minded chef is known for eschewing expensive products, preferring to put the acccent on the best local foods.
An artist’s palette for the palate
Jérôme Manifacier at the Hôtel de la Paix in Geneva was named the Promotion of the Year for French-speaking Switzerland, bumped up to 17 points. The chef at Vertig’O runs a tight ship, with a staff of only 11, at the city-centre five-star hotel that has been investing in classic fine cuisine for nearly a decade.
Manifacier is a former student of French chef Gérard Rabaey and he has a string of other impressive restaurant credits to his name. But his reputation has been growing since his arrival at La Paix in 2006 – and yet the restaurant’s prices are more within reach than many in this circle. His signature is dishes that are light, elegant – and beautifully colourful.
I sat next to him at lunch and we rode back towards Geneva together on the train, where he enthusiastically shared photos of his latest gorgeous-looking and mouthwatering creations. I asked what makes the difference between 16 and 17 points, what he had to do to reach this level and what he plans to do to continue improving.
“Details, it’s all in the detail – the service, the dishes, every little detail,” he quickly replied in his rapid-fire French from south-central France. The decor at the hotel isn’t quite up to the level of the cuisine, but renovations are scheduled, and that will help in the future, to create a more harmonious ambiance, he says.
Refined and delicious in watch country
The Discovery of the Year in French-speaking Switzerland is Mathieu Bruno at the Paysan Horloger in Le Boéchet, Jura, awarded 14 points. Gault-Millau appears delighted at uncovering a young and very promising chef whose cooking is described as “refined and delicious” in this village with a small restaurant, small hotel and small watch museum high in the Jura hills.
German- and Italian-speaking Swiss awards
Christian Geisler at Der Kunsthof in Uznach, St Gallen was named the Promotion of the Year in German-speaking Switzerland, with 17 points, andCornelius Speinle at Dreizehn Sinne im Huuswurz, Schlattingen, Thurgau, is the Discovery of the Year in the region, with 15 points.
Salvatore Frequente at Eden Roc’s restaurant La Brezza in Ascona is the Italian-speaking area’s Promotion 2015.
Best of: cigars, wine, chefs abroad and hotels
This year Gault-Millau splashed out on more than fine restaurants, giving consumers a delightful guide to sommeliers, cigar men, star chefs who work abroad and the finest hotel around, with four awards:
Sommelier of the year, Jéròme Aké-Béda at Auberge de l’Onde, Saint Saphorin, Vaud, 15 points
The Cigar Man of the Year, Bernd Schützelhofer at Paul’s in Widnau, St Gallen, 16 points
Star Chef Abroad, Stefan Trepp from canton Graubünden, The Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok, Thailand: at only 33 years of age he heads an extraordinary kitchen staff of 322! He is also the official chef for the king of Thailand.
Hotel of the Year, Park Hotel Vitznau in Lucerne, with 17 and 16 points for two of its chefs.