Friday, October 26, 2012

Zermatt. A Gastronomic Paradise in the Swiss Alps

There is no greater pleasure after a long day of skiing than sitting down to enjoy a traditional raclette.
But Zermatt (Valais) offers much more than that. Twenty Zermatt Restaurants have been included in the latest edition of the most popular Swiss restaurant guide, the Gault Millau 2013.
The Omnia, the "Heimberg" Restaurant, and the Hotel Matthiol have entered for the first time in the prestigious guide.
"The residents of Zermatt and their guests are spoiled by the very best mountain restaurants in the Alps. Hotels with ambitious chefs…" The Gault Millau (GM) is full of praise for Zermatt in its 2013 edition. The restaurants included in the 2013 guide (18 up to now) have amassed a total of 248 points (246 up to now). The publishers of the Gault Millau write in their press release: "Gastronomic power continues to rise as before in Zermatt: the cuisine in the wonderful restaurants lining the ski runs is consistently good. There has been some change in the village but the density is impressive". The Gault Millau tasters have designated the boys from the isle of Capri as the undisputed "top dogs", who never cease to "amaze us every year" in the Mont Cervin Palace (Le Capri Restaurant).
The Omnia has been waiting a long time for its Gault Millau entry and now it's a case of "Welcome to the Club!" states the restaurant guide, referring to the 14-point performance by its chef Patrick Weber. The "Heimberg" Restaurant was also able to climb up the rankings. Christian Geisler garnered praise with the entry, "What the young chef from Salzburg, Christian Giesler, serves up, deserves to earn great praise", gaining the "Heimberg" 14 points (13 up to now). The press release goes even further: "Christian Geisler is the shooting star in the village. … we expect great things from him".
The Restaurant Dolce Vita is a new addition, although without an entry with points, as Roland Kilian only works in the Dolce Vita in Zermatt in winter. Like other chefs in Zermatt practically overwinters here like a migratory bird. He is now here for the second time (2012/2013 season).
The Hotel Matthiol also managed only an entry, as Chef Maria Gross is moving on with Patrick Zeh stepping into her shoes. He first needs to prove himself.
Nine Zermatt hotels included Tourists continue to seek out beautiful hotels where they can enjoy outstanding food. Of the 100 hotels designated by Gault Millau as "Gourmet Hotels", nine of them are now in Zermatt. This is because the Hotel The Omnia is now in the club, too. Zermatt has a total of over 150 restaurants, 50 of which are mountain restaurants plus a further 50 bars and nightclubs.

The 20 best restaurants in Zermatt
Gault Millau points
Hotel Alpenhof, Restaurant Le Gourmet15
Hotel Cervo13
Restaurant China Garden13
Restaurant Dolce Vita-*
Findlerhof Mountain Restaurant14
Restaurant Chez Heini13
Restaurant Heimberg14 (+1)
Hotel Matthiol-*
Hotel Mirabeau, Restaurant Le Corbeau d’Or15
Hotel Mont Cervin Palace, Ristorante Capri16
Hotel Mont Cervin Palace, Grill “Le Cervin”14
Restaurant Myoko13
Hotel The Omnia14 (new)
Hotel Post, Restaurant Portofino13
Hotel Schönegg, Restaurant Gourmetstübli15
Hotel Riffelalp Resort, Lounge / Al Bosco13
Hotel Sonnmatten13
Restaurant Zum See bei Max und Greti14
Chez Vrony Mountain Restaurant13**
Grand Hotel Zermatterhof, Restaurant Prato Borni13

*Two Zermatt restaurants have not been awarded points but have still been included. This is because the chef's successor must first prove himself (Matthiol) and because Roland Kilian is "only" working as a guest chef (Dolce Vita). However, he has cooked his way to 16 points in his former Rebstock Restaurant in Tschugg (Berne).
**Chez Vrony (picture attached) is one of a few restaurants that serves their own organic produce. The cattle eat nothing but the grass that grows on the mountain pastures. The dried meat, homemade sausage and mountain cheese served at Chez Vrony is all made according to time-honoured recipes handed down from one generation to the next, just like the restaurant itself. Indeed, all dishes on the menu are natural and authentic regional fare, but are often combined with a cosmopolitan touch.

Gault et Millau is one of the most influential French Restaurant guides. It was founded by two restaurant critics, Henri Gault (1929–2000) and Christian Millau in 1965. Gault Millau rates on a scale of 1 to 20, with 20 highest (Restaurants below 10 points are almost never listed). The points are awarded based on the (1) quality and freshness of produce, (2) creativity and professionalism in food presentation, (3) harmony of the menu, (4) timing of service, (5) presentation and salubriousness of dishes, and (6) consistency of performance.
Based on this rating, high ranking restaurants may display one to four toques.
The Swiss guide was established in 1982. Recognition is highly prized and requires a minimum of 12 points summarised as follows:

12 points. Good kitchen offering conventional and traditional cuisine
13 - 14 points. Very good kitchen with more than conventional cuisine
15 - 16 points. High level of cuisine and quality
17 points. Award for the best quality and consistency
18 points. Award for exceeding quality of cuisine and creativity
19 points. Award for a groundbreaking and outstanding cuisine
20 points. Never awarded

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