Chef Tommy Götzfried Is Committed to Traditional Swiss Cuisine — With a TwistBy Stefan Hottinger-Behmer
At the helm of eCHo restaurant in the Zurich Marriott Hotel, chef Tommy Götzfried has been serving up local Swiss favorites for nearly five years alongside his trusted team and the restaurant’s own cow, Gretli, whose milk is featured in all of the menu’s cheeses, including the year-round fondue.
In Switzerland, a country that is multicultural in its very essence — with German, Italian, French and Rhaeto-Romance regions — it is pride in being Swiss, and cheese, that unites its culinary identity. In Ticino, you could order a risotto made with local wines, while in the French region, a pork stew with mushrooms and other vegetables would be de rigueur.
Across the German region, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who isn’t crazy about sliced veal in a creamy mushroom sauce served with “rösti” (grated fried potatoes). And high up in the mountains of the Engadin region, air-dried beef, the so-called “bündnerfleisch,” is a firm staple.
Chef Tommy navigates these regional culinary traditions with genuine respect and appreciation for their multifaceted simplicity. Having worked his way through many of the country’s Michelin-starred restaurants, it is the down-to-earth traditional Swiss fare that has conquered his culinary heart.
In the epicenter of Zurich, not far from its picturesque Old Town and the city’s impressive shopping mile, Bahnhofstrasse, he cooks up a Swiss storm of flavors for loyal clientele who dine in the neo-Alpine setting of eCHo, which includes a life-size ski gondola. Between one fondue and the next, he takes a moment to chat with Marriott TRAVELER to highlight his loyalty to authentic Swiss flavors.
How do you blend your personal cooking style with the rooted traditions of Swiss cuisine?
I love to break down recipes and put the original ingredients back together in my own way. Deconstructing tradition allows me to add a personal twist to these much-loved dishes. However, this does not apply to all recipes; some of the crowd-pleasers, like Züri Gschnätzeltes, I don’t dare to touch.
These have to be prepared traditionally as Swiss grannies did a long time ago. The oldest recipe [on our menu], I cook this local delicacy [as it was cooked in] 1870. I never change the essence or purpose of any original dish.
What is the key to making a restaurant serving Swiss specialties stand out on its home turf? What is the essence of Swiss cuisine?
Tradition and modernity combined on one plate. [We work to deliver] newly interpreted flavors served in a laid-back, feel-at-home, living room atmosphere that is appealing to both visitors and locals. Dishes across the country are wonderfully regional, deeply rooted in their local traditions, honest and straightforward. There is no fanfare around Swiss food, and it’s based on homestyle cooking.
Does eCHo’s urban setting influence your seasonal menu variations?
We tend not to jump on culinary trends. Zurich’s gastro scene is lively and very much in tune with what goes on elsewhere, but we choose to go our own way in a typical Swiss pace — slowly but surely.
What’s your signature dish?
That would be my very own recipe of a traditional bratwurst [homemade grilled sausage]. It’s named after myself, “Tommy’s Bratwurst,” and I have experimented a fair bit with seasoning and consistency while developing this recipe, and I dare to say it might be Zurich’s best tasting!
How important is sustainability in the choice of produce at eCHo?
It is paramount. We only work with farmers and suppliers within a 40-kilometer [25-mile] radius. The one notable exception is the milk we use for our cheeses, which comes from the Alpine village of Hinterhuismatt. We have our own cow, Gretli, and all of our cheeses include her milk.
In Switzerland, the provenance of ingredients has always been of utmost importance, and we have some of the highest quality products here and are proud to serve wholesome Swiss meals to our patrons.
Do you see “Swissness” as a trend in local gastronomy?
Swissness is definitively not a trend; it’s a lifestyle, and it has been lived here for a very long time.
This story appears as a part of a partnership with Marriott Hotels and Travel Brilliantly, fostering the creativity of the inventive class through stories that motivate, inspire and fuel a constant quest for knowledge. Read “Big Picture: Zurich,” there.