Experiencing food is one of our greatest pleasures as foodies. When we visit a region or check in a hotel, indulging in the local flavors gets on top on our list. Yet in terms of understanding what happens behind the scenes and all the preparation needed for the food delights to make it to the restaurant table, we didn’t really get further than shaking hands with the chef 👨🍳!
This time we did it! We went, as curious foodies, inside the kitchen of chef Timo Zimmer, the head chef of Walliserhof Grand-Hotel & SPA in Saas-Fee. Watching chef Timo in action was as enjoyable as talking to him about his inspiration and philosophy and also “fishing” for some of his secret recipes 😁 . Check his amazing recipe of Beef Tartar at the bottom.
Young – only 28 years old !, Timo Zimmer is enthusiastic and passionate about sustainability. “We are convinced that sustainability and a respectful approach to nature start right on the shopping list. This is the only way to create true and conscious culinary delights on the plate,” says Timo Zimmer.
He translated his local & organic approach into planting a garden next to the hotel with plants and herbs like sorrel, wild thyme & fennel among others that he uses in his recipes. For meat he goes local with choosing Swiss produce, and for milk & cheese he counts on the cow Wal Lisa von Hof, the local cow raised by the hotel, feeding on the green pastures of Saas-Grund!
Being missioned with the task to create the cuisines of the 3 restaurants of the 5-star Walliserhof Grand-Hotel & SPA where he started as a sous-chef, was not an easy task at all! But Timo came with fresh & innovative ideas. For him cooking is about creativity and having fun. Although it is hard 12-14h work every day, Timo enjoys surfing the wave and values the kitchen teamwork.
His approach is a balanced mix of authenticity and re-invention, where he was inspired by his grandma’s recipes but re-introduced them with a new twist & look.
“I want people to think “why not trying something new” he says. That’s why he opts for meat cuts that are not the typical choice and transfer them into culinary delights. “Most people choose a filet but I will serve you a brisket that has been specially marinated for a week! It makes the filet a dull choice”. And he was right!
We left Timo with a wish that he gets “starred” soon. “That’s a privilege I but am not into that”, confessed Timo to us. Timo believes that sustainability means making the best of what you have and not using only “perfect carrots” and wasting the rest. Chapeau to that!
Alongside with Timo works Christian Kramer, chef pâtissier, for whom patisserie is an expression of creativity and colourfulness. Like Timo, he is into green, and he even introduces herbs like wild thyme untraditionally into his sweet creations. “I like to have fun in the kitchen, we are a young and dynamic team. So I test my ideas internally to get feedback”.
Watching him design the “Honig“ dessert made us drool and already pre-select our dessert for dinner which is usually the last dish to choose.
That night dinner at Cäsar Ritz at Walliserhof Grand-Hotel & SPA was a treat to our eyes as much as a treat to our taste buds. We always enjoy good food, but our appreciation multiplied after we witnessed the efforts and attention to details put in every dish. The Gourmet Restaurant Cäsar Ritz has a great charming ambiance with its big chandeliers and wide windows that open to a wonderful view of Saas-Fee and the glacier. The menu is rich with a very diverse set of dishes. And no wonder we went for the chef’s recommendation! To top it all we had an amazing surprise from chef pâtissier Christian giving a final touch to our “Honig“ dessert himself in front of our eyes!
“Tartar of Simmental Beef/ Country Bread/ Egg Yolk/ Crème Fraîche” (for 2 people) by Timo Zimmer:
The beef tartare:
– 350g fillet of Simmental beef, finely minced.
– 25 g gherkins
– 25 g shallots, peeled, coarsely chopped
– 15 g capers
– 25 g high-quality olives
– 25 g mustard
– 200 g ketchup
– 50 ml olive oil
– 5 g salt
– 3 g pepper, black, from the mill
– 5 g paprika powder, sweet
– 1 tsp Tabasco
Finely puree all the ingredients and add to the chopped fillet according to taste. My tip: Start with a little marinade and work your way up to the perfect flavour bit by bit.
– A dash of cognac
– 4 sprigs leaf parsley, finely chopped
– 5 sprigs chives, finely chopped
– 2 shallots, finely diced
– 2 cornichons, finely diced
You can add the ingredients, according to your taste.
The country bread:
Buy a rustic country bread at your local bakery and freeze it. Using a slicer or slicing machine, cut down slices as thinly as possible. Lay the slices on a tea towel and place in the sun or a dry place to create “bread chips”.Alternatively, you could cut down finger-thick slices and fry them in a little clarified butter.
The egg yolk:
Take two fresh country eggs and separate the whites from the yolks, leaving only the yolks.
– 100g crème-fraîche
– salt, pepper
Season the crème-fraîche with salt and pepper.
For the garnish, I quite like to use seasonal herbs. In this case, we used wild pea cress and red/green perilla cress. Alternatively, I would use chervil.
Now it’s time to serve!
The seasoned beef tartare is divided between two dressing rings (alternatively on the toasted country bread) on two plates. Spread the crème-fraîche and the egg yolk with a teaspoon on top of and next to the tartare ring. Garnish the country bread chips with the cress and add some coarse pepper to the dish. Enjoy your meal!