Story

V-ZUG Youngsters: the young and wild

Germann, Arnold, Fuchs und Skibba speak of their generation and "Papa" Caminada

1,600 AMUSE-BOUCHES. Fabian Fuchs (“EquiTable”, Zurich) is preparing his snacks for the GaultMillau garden party in an improvised kitchen. The tacos are all lined up and ready. Only the topping is missing. Silvio Germann (“Igniv”, Bad Ragaz) grabs a piping bag and adds the green mixture to the snacks. “Hey, you’re putting far too much puree on!” Fuchs shouts to Germann. “What sort of balance is that?” They both laugh and continue to banter. Together with Marcel Skibba (“Igniv”, St. Moritz) and Markus Arnold (“Steinhalle”, Berne) they are the V-Zug youngsters – the young bad boys among Switzerland’s elite chefs – and at the party of the year they served a total of 1,600 amuse bouches.

RESPECT! While Germann, aged 28, is really still a youngster, 37-year-old Arnold is not feeling quite so youthful: “I had to laugh when the enquiry came from V-Zug. Because at the end of a 12-hour day I really feel quite old.” It’s the same for Fabian Fuchs, 31. “I don’t feel like a youngster in everyday life, but here at the garden party with this team I do.” All four have great respect for star chefs like Philippe Chevrier, Franck Giovannini or Andreas Caminada. “We know what it means to stand in the kitchen all the time. And they’ve been doing that for a long time. But they still have their feet on the ground. Hats off!” says Germann.

PAPA CAMINADA. For Markus Arnold it was a bit like a class reunion. “I worked for Chevrier, and I’ve been out drinking with Caminada”, he reveals. Marcel Skibba adds: “You know the people in the field. I don’t feel intimidated. On the contrary: I feel as if I belong.” Skibba and Germann, with their “Igniv” restaurants, are of course a part of the Caminada family. No wonder they call him “Papa”.

ANOTHER GENERATION. One thing is clear right away: the youngsters think a bit differently than the old guard. The days of the loud, domineering chefs are over. “In my team, fair play is really important”, says Arnold. “Yes, there’s room for criticism, but it’s never personal.” Social media such as Instagram indicate that the star chefs are not just colleagues but also good friends. “That’s really true,” says Fabian Fuchs. “I don’t like jealousy and competition. We do the same work, and the others know what we’re talking about.” This gives rise to lively exchanges. “You’re keen to try out something from someone else, and if it’s cool, you can take inspiration from it”, says Markus Arnold. The result on the plate is then a different one too. “I think we have fewer preconceptions about a dish, we combine ingredients more daringly and the many international influences can be seen on the plate too,” is how Skibba explains the youngsters’ cooking style.

SLEEPLESS NIGHTS. But whether young or old, the youngsters’ amuse bouches at the garden party were the first things the guests tasted. So all four were under a certain amount of pressure. “You tend to put it off a bit, and I’m not used to these quantities. 300 snacks is rather different than 30, and I only slept 1.5 hours from Saturday to Sunday”, Fuchs admits. But they are all convinced that the guests liked the food. “I have enough self-confidence to know that what I send up will taste good”, Arnold says. The enthusiastic guests prove the Bernese chef right.

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