People and family
A ‘Saane boy’ in heart and soul
Franz W. Faeh is living his childhood dream. He is Culinary Director in ‘his’ Gstaad Palace, the familiar landmark he walked past as a child every day on his way to school. Ever determined, Faeh completed his apprenticeship here in 1981 and spent the following 13 years working for the Regent Group in Hongkong, Jakarta and Bangkok. He has cooked for many a royal personage and in 2021 was himself crowned ‘Hotel Chef of the Year’ by the Swiss business magazine BILANZ. What drives Faeh? Where does he get his inspiration? And what does he do when he isn’t working?
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Mr Faeh, you’re 60 and fit as a fiddle. What’s your secret ingredient?
Well, I can’t really tell you that, I’m afraid... But seriously, you have to keep moving, take regular exercise. I’m out on my bike a lot and get enough sleep. And in the low-seasons, I travel far and wide to pick up inspiring new ideas.
Speaking of inspiration, who are your heroes?
In the field of gastronomy, that’s Norbert Niederkofler and Reto Mathis. Michael Schumacher in sports and AC/DC in music.
At the Palace, you aim for evolution, not revolution. What does that mean in practice?
I’m not keen on grand philosophies. I put my faith in the product, and in my own experience and intuition. Here in the Palace kitchens, the ingredients and flavour always take centre-stage.
And what do you think of our classic Palace dishes?
I absolutely love them – as do our guests. There’s nothing quite like a delicious rainbow trout in white wine and chive sauce, or a grilled chicken supreme club sandwich. A premium burger is another must-have. And our new menu at the «PISCINE» celebrates the seasoned ‘tavolata’ way of dining; cosy and convivial. After all, sharing is caring, especially when it comes to food.
You once worked for the royal family of Thailand. What do you love about Southeast Asian cuisine?
It’s light and wholesome, and it’s based on clear, clean aromas. When you combine them well, you can create beautiful bursts of flavour on the palate.
They say that food should also be a feast for the eyes. How important is the art of food arrangement to you?
I don’t like overblown decorations. ‘Less is more’ applies here as well.
You say you have the job of your dreams. Was it really always your dream to become head chef at the Gstaad Palace?
Yes, no joke, it really was. Returning to the Palace was a step I always intended to take. Both my grandfather and my father were lucky enough to work at the Palace. They were both in-house photographers for the Scherz family. So I promised myself: One day I will be a chef there. And here I am – it’s now been seven years!