Then I moved on and went to Ireland for a renovation of a hotel in Cork as executive chef when it developed from a four- to a five-star hotel. After that, I went to the Essex House and I was there for three and a half years in New York. Then I got the opportunity to come to D.C. to Hotel Dupont. And I’m here now since three months.
When I’m not eating my own food — I like to hang out and just go and enjoy myself in a nice spot, have a nice pint and nachos and just relax. I like simple food when I go out. I like very casual dining, and I like a good Italian place, and I love to go and eat Mediterranean food.
Born and raised — St. Gallen, Switzerland
Food I cannot stand — I don’t like canned and frozen food. Otherwise, I actually eat pretty much everything. I’m not a big fan of tripe, but I’ll eat it.
Greatest cooking influence — My mom always used to cook. Eating good and eating healthy and eating home-cooked meals were always very big in my growing up, and therefore, she’s definitely an inspiration of becoming a cook. I had to work in the garden and pick berries off the bushes and clean green beans and stuff like that, and I was always like, “Why, why can’t I go play soccer?” But then I started to like it.
Strangest cuisine I’ve tried — Probably these fried grasshoppers and maggots and cockroaches in Thailand. It’s interesting to explore what different cultures are doing. When I used to work in Dubai, we did a lot of baby lambs and baby camels, and they would cook the testicles. So that’s not so normal. Another thing, which actually for me is fairly normal because in Switzerland it’s big, [is] to eat horsemeat. But for Americans, it always surprises them when I tell them the stories that you can buy horse in the supermarket [in Switzerland].
Must-have cooking utensil — I think there’s more than one … [but] probably a knife. I don’t think there’s one knife that suits everybody.
Thoughts on Washington’s food scene — It’s pretty comparable to other places in the world. I think it’s not as developed as, like, New York, for example. It seems like everybody knows each other in the city in the food industry. I think it’s more kind of a family.
Worst kitchen disaster — I remember in Dubai when there was a big event for, like, 450 people and it was a big buffet. Nobody told us that 70 percent of them are vegetarians. There were only … two or three vegetarian items on the buffet. We had to run around to all the other kitchens in the resort and pretty much get everything together from them to cook through it and make it happen to feed the 450 vegetarians.
Biggest pet peeve in the kitchen — I just can’t stand it when people are in the kitchen and eating. Tasting is fine. What I’m talking about is really like when employees don’t want to go on their meal break and they cook themselves something and eat it in the kitchen. Or when people put stuff in the fridge without covering it up. That’s another thing.
People I’d never want to see in the kitchen — That’s a good question. Probably my boss, the GM, because when he’s in the kitchen, it means something went wrong.
Strangest things cooked — I think you can cook pretty much everything. For me, if people like it, they should cook it. I heard from a friend of mine, he was in Vietnam and apparently they eat monkey brains, but they [cut] off the head when the monkey is still alive. That’s not something I agree with, but then again it’s part of the culture and it’s been done for so long.
Age — 32
Marital status — Wife, Colene