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Connecting Cuisine with Emotions – Michelin Star Chef Sven Wassmer
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Connecting Cuisine with Emotions – Michelin Star Chef Sven Wassmer

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Chef Sven Wassmer and His Restaurant Memories

Multi-Michelin Star chef Sven Wassmer is arguably the most successful culinary artist in Switzerland. Earning his third Michelin Star in 2022, Wassmer’s restaurant Memories now ranks as one of just 138 restaurants in the world to achieve such a high accolade.

Memories Restaurant

Sven Wassmer attributes his eclectic take on Alpine Cuisine to the connections we make with food and our own personal history. The tastes that transport us back in time to our childhoods or a distant but fond memory are a key part of Sven’s creative menus.

Here, we talk with the three-time Michelin Star chef about his own memories, what influences his culinary journey and what drives him towards consistent success.


Sven Wassmer: The Interview


Hello Sven, and thank you for being here with us today.

How have you effectively handled the pressure and maintained your success while upholding the reputation you established today after being honoured with your first Michelin Star in 2015?

Professionally, I remain ambitious and always see opportunities for development – this is my motivation always to be “fit for purpose”.


Tell us about your childhood: Did you spend a lot of time in the kitchen helping the adults? And later on: what first drew you to pursue a career as a chef? 

Even as a child, I was always jumping around in the kitchen. Eating together was significant in my family. I always wanted to be there when my mother cooked. I was particularly attracted to the cooker. My mother would then find tasks for me to do. My first task was the salad dressing. That then became my line, so to speak. I realized very early on that the work in the kitchen was right for me.

I would also have been interested in aviation. But when it came to deciding what I should do, I discussed it with my family. So, we came back to the fact that I always liked helping in the kitchen when I was a boy. I definitely didn't want an office job. I was keen to learn a trade where I would also get feedback. When I was 14 and had my first sniff in a kitchen, I knew: this is it!


From the initial idea for a dish to the plating:  What inspires you to have new ideas and create your dishes? What is your favourite ingredient?

Nature is my source of inspiration. Nature provides us with numerous ideas. With vegetables, I focus on what grows below the ground and what grows above the ground. I want to use the whole spectrum from leaf to root. This gives rise to countless possibilities. You must not think too one-dimensionally.

I also like to use kitchen techniques that I learned during my travels and apply them to the ingredients we have here. That way, I get an entirely different result. There are many cultures in the world that have had a cooking culture much longer than we have.
I am extremely proud of our dairy products. Here in Switzerland, we have all the best. Without butter, cream, milk or crème fraîche, it would be over for me.


With so much effort going into each dish on the menu, how do you expect the clients to feel after leaving your restaurant? 

I believe that food and cooking are about memories and your personal ones. Through the memories, you learn the taste. Every person has a different taste because of the different childhood memories, too, as the only thing we all have from birth is taste, actually. On the one hand, I want to tell a story; on the other hand, I wish to create memories.

Many people have tried an ant as a child. When I decided to include ants in the menu, there were discussions with the guests, who were completely perplexed, but felt that they had been picked up somewhere. The same goes for the sorrels: We used to chew on those too. I'm doing something that has always been there, that has just been forgotten a bit.

Sven Wassmer and his team

Being the owner and the chef of a successful restaurant and working in a team is a great challenge. What would be your advice for future chefs who are just starting their careers? 

I would like to see restaurants without bossy chefs and not serving commercial food. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t judge anyone, and I don’t do something for appreciation; I just do all that I feel. I try to be a role model, and yes, I am not perfect. Still, I try to invest my thoughts and efforts to become a better version of myself and show that it’s possible to change the whole industry. Starting with yourself, I feel lucky that I don’t see the guides’ recognition as my main goal in that.

My team is essential to me. We are always discussing new ideas and trying out new things. It helps promote creativity. It’s precisely because we have different opinions, ideas, and approaches that we end up creating such outstanding dishes. It’s a process of constant tweaking, and everyone is fully involved. I have a clear vision of how our cuisine should be. The nuts and bolts are down to teamwork.


You said: “The longer I cook, the more I leave out.” What does it mean exactly?

It is all about my cooking style; I follow a minimalist way of doing things. I also experiment with techniques such as fermentation and pickling. Either way, I intend to bring the soul of the product to its most refined and sophisticated expression.

Sven Wassmer Cooking

The Alps and nature are your great inspiration and the place where you disconnect. Does it come from childhood, or did you discover it as an adult? Why do you feel so good close to nature?

I want to use the best products. What natural products and fantastic food we have here! What fascinates me today is no longer the exotic from far away but the diversity and authenticity here in Switzerland and in the entire Alpine region. I am never dogmatic in my “Alpine cuisine”, however, but I would like to have fun while cooking and the freedom to creatively combine what I want.

There are seven countries with access to the Alps and, therefore, with access to unique natural products. And we in Switzerland are at the centre of this region. Such products grow here, and such specialities were and are transported through our country. What could be more natural than to cook unique dishes from them?

My team and I collect ingredients ourselves from the forest or from regional producers who have become friends over the years. We share with them a love of natural products that inspire our guests. One of these friends, for example, grows incredibly tasty watermelons for us – in Switzerland, at 900 metres above sea level!


In your signature restaurant, Memories, you serve Swiss alpine cuisine. As it is not commonly known, could you please explain a bit more about what it consists of, how the meals are prepared, and what you add to make it more personal?

My dishes are based on the seasons and change with them. Because the strength and taste of the products have their peak, determined by the location, the weather, the soil, and the available nutrients. The preparation reveals the products at their peak and reveals their pure character.

The Alpine region is the great culinary larder of our cuisine. Many methods of production have been handed down and made use of what is available locally. Dairy is a central part of the menu everywhere in the Alps.

Memories' Team at Work

How do you effectively incorporate sustainability into your professional and personal life, particularly in your efforts to enhance the sustainability of your restaurants?

My whole cooking style is about sustainability, the sustainability of cultures, craftwork and resources, and showing respect to the artists farming the land. This ethos shines through in that we work with the seasons and source with responsibility and care. We know the background behind every ingredient we serve and use.


Is there a particular dish that has a nostalgic value or special meaning for you? 

Char from Val Lumnezia with roasted Alpine dairy cream and fir oil. That is my signature dish. I put it on my menu a long time ago and have included it here in Memories restaurant. It is really one of the best fish dishes that is served in Switzerland. The char will always find a place there in the future because it perfectly brings my philosophy of alpine cuisine with few ingredients to the plate.

A piece of mountain char from ice-cold water at 1,300 metres above sea level is lightly smoked with hay, dried pine cones and bark. This is accompanied by a sauce of caramelised cream, known in Switzerland as Rahm or Sahne, with fir oil, on top of which young fir needles are sprinkled in measured doses. A dish made from three ingredients, a stunning interplay of delicately burnt (in the best sense) dark tones with the astringent ethereal notes of the conifer, the melting of barely cooked freshwater fish and the fat of a really good Alpine dairy product.

For me, this dish shows what has changed over the years in top Swiss cuisine, from whose conservative monotony I once ran away to London. It's a dish that may not look like it's on the top of the list, but it works sensationally.

Sven Wassmer's Signature Dish: Char from Val Lumnezia with roasted Alpine dairy cream and fir oil

As a recognized chef, you probably learned from others during all these years. Who has been your biggest influence or a person you most admire?

My granny and Family first in my childhood. And thereafter, Rene Rezepi and Daniel Humm.


Your job is quite stressful and demanding. How do you chill out in your spare time? (Please don’t say that you cook! 😉 )

I spend my leisure time with my family. For example, I often go to the skate park with Elijah, my son, where I went when I was a child. Time with him is like therapy. I can really slow down, and I'm free from my thoughts. This new balance also gives me so much more energy. And I would like to mention that without Amanda, my wife, I wouldn't be who I am today.


On your day off, are you the one who cooks for your family and friends? Or maybe you just order a pizza?

At home, I prefer to “take two steps away from the cooker”, do the dishes and go weekly shopping. Otherwise, there is a flexible distribution of roles in our family: I am never frightened by laundry and cleaning. Of course, I get invited to dinner by my friends and family. I am also very uncomplicated, and I'm always happy to have a nice get-together.


We wonder – what’s your favourite city? And what are the top spots there you’d recommend to your best friend when he or she’s in town? (This could be anything from a restaurant, a bar, a gallery, a shop, a park, etc…)


For me, it's London. It's like my second home. I'm still thrilled by the great diversity and energy that this city conveys. The list of restaurants would be endless, so I'll just mention a few:

Thank you, Sven; it was a pleasure!

Sven Wassmer's Memories Restaurant website


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Last Updated on March 16, 2024 by Editorial Team


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