Le Chef des Chefs – Triple World Champion Gregor Zimmermann
Gregor Zimmermann is a triple world champion and the official chef for the Swiss government at the Bellevue Palace in Berne.
Gregor Zimmermann inherited his talent and the calling for cookery: His parents had their own restaurant and passed their passion for haute cuisine on to their son. The starting gun for his professional career, however, was fired when he started his professional training at the Bellevue Palace in 1988. Today, he leads the hotel’s team of about 30 chefs and oversees 2 000 banquets and events every year. After several inspiring years of working elsewhere, he returned to Berne 12 years ago. His work has earned him numerous major awards, including three world championship titles with the Swiss national team at competitions in Chicago, Singapore, and Basel.
Food tasters and the «table royale»
Gregor Zimmermann is a star without airs and graces, a quiet, humble worker with an impressive international network. When preparing for an official state visit, a text message to the official chef of the respective country is all it takes for him to find out about any food preferences the members of the delegation may have. He has prepared banquets for countless heads of state and presidents, so there is not much that could surprise or shock him: “Sometimes there is an entire, four-level team of food tasters in my kitchen checking meals before allowing us to serve them to our guests,” Gregor Zimmermann explains, grinning. “So far, everyone has survived…”. The requirements of states banquets can be demanding and sophisticated: Dinner courses are discussed months in advance, protocol procedures have to be practiced, staff rosters drawn up. At a state banquet, 22 attendants will make sure that up to 84 guests of honour at the “table royale” are served in just two service runs.
The Bellevue Palace is a traditional event and banquet hotel and hosts many private events in addition to the Swiss capital’s diplomatic functions. On peak days, Gregor Zimmermann and his team work on 12 or even 15 events.
Tradition and metropolitan lifestyle at the Bellevue Palace
Both the «Vue» restaurant, boasting a fantastic view of the Bernese Oberland and the Jungfrau region, and the recently opened “Noumi” in the basement of the hotel are popular with local residents. The no-fuss, trendy interior of the “Noumi” invites guests to chill and enjoy barbeque-style dinners, vegetarian treats, and delicious bowls inspired by food markets of the world. The restaurant is about the delight of tasting, combining, and sharing food – a concept much enjoyed by urban nomads and well-travelled gourmets alike. And it adds a touch of youthfulness to the otherwise traditional Bellevue Palace: Trendy DJs play lounge and chill out sounds and provide the perfect setting to enjoy the hotel mixologist’s signature cocktails or one of Switzerland’s cult drinks. Copper-coloured basaltic rocks, light colours, and natural materials, including wood and marble, create an informal, urban atmosphere.
The Bellevue Bar is legendary: Many political programmes were hatched out, adopted, or discarded here. Federal Councillors have been crowned over a club sandwich and drinks. Political opponents shake hands at the bar, true to the “Chefs des Chefs” club motto: “If politics divides people, a good table always gathers them.”
This spirit matches well with Switzerland’s official head chef Gregor Zimmermann’s maxims. He travels the world for inspirations and swaps ideas with his fellow club members. And to recharge his batteries, he retreats to his chalet and spends time with his family.