Across my Table

Chef Walter Wyssen- Across My Table

Monday, October 01, 2012Me! In words

This blog started out as my online journal of places we have eaten out at here in Bangalore. It began as a means of giving myself a creative, non-work related outlet and soon seemed to take on a life of its own. Though it was all about taking pictures and trying out new places in the beginning, it grew to becoming an educative tool for me as well. Over time we have met so many people with such a vast amount of knowledge about food and have had such enlightening conversations with them. And so I felt it was time to add another aspect to blog– conversations with visiting chefs to Bangalore.

Every now and then we have a visiting chef come in to showcase something that the city may not have seen or would like to see more of. I have missed so many of them, but hope not to anymore. I will try and catch up with some of them and chat up about food, in hopefully a manner that is not done to death.

And to start things off I have Chef Walter Wyssen, Executive Chef, Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts, who is visiting their Bangalore property from Zurich to showcase Swiss delicacies in the city.

Chef Walter Wyssen, Executive Chef, 
Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts, Zurich

Everyone who loves food can talk fondly of a relationship with it and Chef Walter says that for him it started very young. “I started cooking when I was very young, helping my mother and grandmother in the kitchen. I would also help my father with butchery at times. Then during the 70s' oil crisis, it was important to have a job to and earn some money, that is when I decided to cook for a living.”

Read more about cuisines in the different cantons 
at the original link of this image

Its easy to blanket a nation's cuisine into one group, but as we in India know, every region, state, and community in our country has its own unique twist to the local cuisine. Its the same with Swiss cuisine as well says Chef Walter. "Every part of Switzerland has variety in cuisine. Switzerland is not as big as India, but in our 26 cantons, each of the cantons has different styles of cuisine. We also have French influenced cuisine in the West of the country, German influenced food in the north and east and Italian influenced cooking in the South East of the country."

Pic for representation.
As a specialty chef, one has to constantly  whip up delicacies for scores of people with varied palates. But for every one there is something that constitutes a typical taste of home. For Chef Walter, that meal is something that his grandmother would have made, "like some fresh hot bread from the oven, a slab of cheese, dried beef or ham, which she would have dried last year and some nice veal with creamy mushroom sauce."

Sweet Bread - Pic for representation.

Cooking for people with different backgrounds and tastes can be challenging and many a times a chef may be asked to refrain from cooking up something in a showcase because it can be an acquired taste, it may go against sentiments and some other reasons. For this showcase, Chef Walter says, "Two things I am told to avoid by my colleagues at the Mövenpick Hotel & Spa Bangalore are sweet bread – which is made from the internal organs of a cow and ox tongue. I was also told not to plan any cooking with deer, since venison is not allowed in India."

Pic for representation only

As a chef, travelling takes on a whole new dimension with numerous food experiences. being an essential part of it. Chef Walter says that he has friends all over the world and "if I go to visit them I make it a point to eat the local dishes. Some in my list of favourites has been in guinea pig or bush food that I ate in South America, and some nice herbs like lemon myrtle that I tasted in Australia.

Vaud Sausages - Pic for representation

When experimenting with a new cuisine it can help to know what’s in store. On Swiss offerings, Chef Walter says, “There is no one definition to Swiss cuisine. But being a cold country most part of the year, we do have a lot of butter, cheese, flour, potatoes etc in our diet. We also eat a lot of meat – pork, guinea fowl, deer, lamb, rabbit. Most of the fish we eat is fresh water fish since we do not have a sea. However we like to eat salmon. Typical dishes are Vaud sausages, slice veal Zurich style, maize fed chicken with dry fruits, saddle of lamb Grison style.”

Pic for representation.
Everyone has some food based adventure and this is what Chef Walter had to say, "In the early 90’s, I visited a good friend in Hawaii, he prepared something new for me – “Sushi” this famous  Japanese dish. While he prepared the rice he let me eat a spoon of wasabi, what a surprise. I got warm, then cold and later pain in the head. Another time, I traveled to Thailand for training with an old chef. We prepared fresh curry paste and then curries Thai style, what flavour, what a power, excellent.

And so there you have it - Bangalore's Restaurants very first "Across my Table". Chef Walter will be showcasing Swiss delicacies at the Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts between September 28th and October 14th at the Dinner Buffet every Friday.

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