Interview with Andreas C. Studer, a Swiss star chef

Andreas C. Studer is a Swiss star chef known especially for his numerous performances in cooking shows on Swiss and German TV. His fans affectionately call him “Studi”; his red cap has become his trademark. He grew up in the Bernese Oberland in Switzerland, where he also started his professional career. He went on to work in luxury hotels in Zurich and obtained a degree from a renowned Swiss hotel management school. Afterwards, he worked in California, among other places. His career on TV began in 1997 with a cookery competition on the German show “Kocharena”. Since then, he has been a regular guest on numerous cookery shows, and today he has become one of the most popular TV cooks in Germany. He puts special emphasis on outstanding quality of the ingredients used and is committed to making high-quality products from his home country more famous abroad.

You have cooked in restaurants all over the world and travelled quite a bit. What do you miss abroad?

The things I especially miss abroad are mostly the typical Swiss products such as chocolate, wine, cheese and, of course, Swiss meat specialities! These typical Swiss products made me the cook I am today. We Swiss people are very critical about meat and sausages. The quality is important, not the quantity. Another thing I start missing quite soon is the mountains – for me, they are just as much a part of Switzerland as the culinary highlights.

What are the characteristic features of Swiss culinary art?

The Swiss consider enjoyment as something very important. They take their time to enjoy things, and quality is very important for them. Also, Switzerland is a country of specialities and it offers a unique range of delicacies: Products such as Bündnerfleisch (air-dried Grisons beef) or Walliser Trockenfleisch (Valais air-dried beef) are produced according to old recipes, sometimes in exactly the same way as they were made hundreds of years ago. I am absolutely convinced that this is the reason for the unique taste of Swiss specialities!

What is it that you value in high-quality foods? Can you taste the tradition and the authentic recipes in them?

As a cook, I always say: what you cook with love will taste good on the plate! The same applies to Swiss meat specialities. You can taste the manufacturers’ love for their own products. Knowledge of the recipes and refinement of the meat specialities have been passed on from one generation of meat producers to the next. It is above all things this love for tradition in the products that makes the Swiss meat specialities so unique. You can taste that. The authentic recipes and the traditional production of Appenzeller Mostbröckli or Bündnerfleisch make these products inimitable. This is why the Swiss meat specialities are just like Switzerland itself: one of a kind and versatile.

Which Swiss meat speciality would you absolutely recommend to the people in Germany?

Just like the Swiss, the Germans love doing barbecues, and for the barbecue season I would recommend St. Galler Kalbsbratwurst (veal sausage of Saint Gall). To this day, it has preserved its own genuine taste and is traditionally served without mustard – this sausage has such an intense and full-bodied taste that mustard is simply not necessary! Another speciality I would like to recommend to the Germans is Bündnerfleisch. This meat is great as both a starter and a side dish. When it gets colder, Bündner Gerstensuppe is just the right dish. Bündnerfleisch makes a wonderful addition to this soup and gives a smoky, spicy touch to the whole thing. It’s enough to cut a few slices into cubes – and the taste is great!

When you are hosting, what do you offer that is typically Swiss?

I always start with an Apéro together with Schweizer Trockenfleisch. The Apéro is an important part of the Swiss lifestyle, and a typical Swiss evening is incomplete without it! My main courses are mostly very classical, with a dish that is probably the most famous outside Switzerland – the Zürcher Geschnetzeltes: sliced veal, cream, onions and mushrooms. And of course, with the typical Swiss Rösti as a side dish!

Whatever the season or the occasion, the Swiss Apéro is your lifestyle. What are its characteristic features?

An Apéro is something very special – it is very popular and much celebrated in Switzerland. Whether at a party in a small group or before a big feast, an Apéro is enjoyed on every possible occasion. In no way does this have to be in a formal environment – sometimes we even drink just a cool beer instead of a glass of good wine. An Apéro is a sign of conscious enjoyment and sociability: we Swiss sit together in a comfortable atmosphere as the day draws to its close. Before we start enjoying the drinks, we serve little appetisers such as dried meat, sausage specialities and cheese. This stimulates the stomach and whets your appetite for what is yet to come. In Germany, I have never come across anything comparable with the Swiss Apéro. And I’m sure that this Swiss lifestyle of ours would very much appeal to German gourmets as well. My advice: mix cream cheese with freshly chopped herbs, season it and roll it up in thin slices of Bündnerfleisch. Serve it on a plate with nice, tasty side dishes and white wine, and add a few freshly cut cubes of bread. That’s it – now you’ve got all you need for an Apéro.

If Switzerland were to compete against Germany on TV, who would win and why?

Even if I reinforce to a cliché about the Swiss by saying so, I would like to reply to this question in the typically diplomatic Swiss manner: I will leave this question unanswered. What matters is that it tastes good!