Interview with Sven Wassmer: the most promising chef of Switzerland

Interview with the chef of the Memories restaurant of the Grand Resort Bad Ragaz, 2 Michelin stars just eight months after its opening

05-02-2021
Sven Wassmer, 32, chef of the Memories restaurant

Sven Wassmer, 32, chef of the Memories restaurant at the Grand Resort Bad Ragaz, in the Swiss canton of St. Gallen, 2 Michelin stars and 18 Gault Millau points just 8 months after opening (Photo credit: Grand Resort Bad Ragaz)

Young and brilliantly talented, chef Sven Wassmer from restaurant Memories inside Grand Resort Bad Ragaz, gained 2 Michelin stars and 18 points Gault Millau in just 8 months after the opening of his restaurant and conquered worldwide critiques and merited the client’s appreciation. In the interview Sven shares his point of view on modern luxury, restaurants’ future, his goals and his own…memories.

The restaurant is called Memories. Are these the memories of yours which you want to put on a plate or you meant the memories of your clients which they will have after visiting your restaurant?
I guess, both of them. I believe that food and cooking are about memories, your personal ones. Through the memories you learn the taste. Every person has a different taste because of the different childhood memories too, as the only thing we all have from the birth is the taste, actually.

As to you, why is your cuisine capable of attracting people from all round the world to come to Bad Ragaz just in order to eat at your restaurant?
Maybe, because it always works close to nature, we tend not to buy the things we can grow or pick ourselves and we work with the best farmers devoted to their products. We work with nature, I believe it’s alive. Our cuisine is true, it’s honest and authentic.
As well, my cuisine is a reflection of me, it’s very minimalistic in a plate, it’s deep in product’s use, in technique and in flavour it's more processional, but it has a history and it has something to communicate.

The kitchen brigade at work

The kitchen brigade at work

The hall of the Memories restaurant

The hall of the Memories restaurant

Kohlrabi, walnut, currant; 
Cucumber, Oona caviar, dill; 
Nasturtium flower, mountain cheese cream, naturally leavened biscuit

Kohlrabi, walnut, currant
Cucumber, Oona caviar, dill
Nasturtium flower, mountain cheese cream, naturally leavened biscuit

Wild herbs, hemp butter, chamomile streusel

Wild herbs, hemp butter, chamomile streusel

With the change of the Fine Dining and restaurant sphere, the figure of the chef becomes even more influential. Do you feel more responsible now than ever before ?
I have always been responsabile, first of all, in front of myself. I think you should use wisely this possibility to influence the people, to talk about significant things, give a voice for the faces of the gastronomy who are normally not seen, as producers, for instance. And, on the contrary, I don’t understand when the people do not use this to contribute to the world’s better.

Do young chefs have the mission to rebuild the Fine Dining sphere? Change it and adjust to the new reality we live in?
It’s the necessity and our mission. We have to be more careful and “transparent” with each other. I would like to see the restaurants without bossy chefs and not serving commercial food. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t judge anyone, and I don’t do something for the appreciation, I just do all that I feel to. I try to be a role model, and yes, I am not perfect, but I try to invest my thoughts and efforts in order to become a better version of mine and show that it’s possible to change the whole industry starting from yourself and I feel lucky that I don’t see the guides’ recognitions as my main goal in that.

The Fine Dining restaurant of the future, in the perspective of 10-15 years, how will it look like?
A more inclusive one, where the customer will become a part of it. The more sustainable and educational one. It will also be a plant-based one, and I believe that it will put vegetables as the protagonists. 

Apart from changing times for all the Fine Dining world, do you have some thoughts or questions bearing your mind ultimately?
What is the new luxury? Are these lobsters and foie gras? No. Luxury is around us and it’s about the time, having it to discover and enjoy your experiences, nature around you. In “Memories” we try to create a special energy and we don’t want to hide something, on the contrary, we want you to be in the center of our world and make you live it fully, having fun.

The organic salad from the vegetable garden of Marcel de Pratval

The organic salad from the vegetable garden of Marcel de Pratval

Char from Val Lumnezia, cream of milk, fir

Char from Val Lumnezia, cream of milk, fir

Pratvaler carrots, mountain sea buckthorn, Gran Alpin barley and koji

Pratvaler carrots, mountain sea buckthorn, Gran Alpin barley and koji

Crispy salad, milk ice cream and cucumber and dill granita

Crispy salad, milk ice cream and cucumber and dill granita

Don’t you think that being honest and true is also a new luxury?
I can agree with you but it should not be like that, ideally. The longer I cook the less remains on my plate, because I believe that it’s also a form of honesty: the more you put on plate, less truth remains there and more confusion the client has.

Are you a perfectionist?
Oh yes, I am, I confess. Even if I try to chase the perfection, sometimes I ask myself: but what I am chasing for? What is perfection? I don’t even think it exists.

Would you be happier finding it one day or you feel happier now - in search of it?
It’s more fun while you’re looking for it, this idyllic and maybe imaginary balance.

To conclude in a poetic note: what is the most unforgettable memory which Sven Wassmer treasures in his heart?
There are some memories connected to the tastes of my childhood and the ones related to the birth of my son. And the moments when you finish the work in the restaurant catching yourself with the thought: “Wow, today we did something great for the world”.


Sections

Dal Mondo

Reviews, recommendations and trends from the four corners of the planet, signed by all the authors of Identità Golose