The quiet, talented Mr Fuchs

“A new dish always starts in your head”

When the restaurant is brimming with 30 people of an evening, you’ll find Fabian Fuchs in the kitchen with only one other chef and the dishwasher, while his partner Julia Besel and one other waiter or waitress look after the guests. ‘Good things come in small packages’ is not just a nice sentiment here, it’s part of everyday, culinary life.

At the heart of the “Equi-Table” concept is that only organic, fair-trade products and ingredients – sourced as regionally as possible – are cooked here. Right now, the 31-year-old Fuchs is tinkering with a cruelty-free duck liver dish. The solution he found, which eventually rendered the optimum flavour, was to use unpasteurised butter. Together with port and Sauternes, the ethically sound, poultry liver from the Appenzell region is vacuum-packed, steam cooked and then mixed. “The result is similar to a classic foie gras, except you needn’t have a guilty conscience while you eat”, says Fuchs.

In his small kitchen, Fabian Fuchs has learned to perfect preparation and organisation. Someone who wants to deliver such high quality in such a small space has to work methodically and decisively. 16 Gault Millau points and 1 Michelin star are the reward for Fuchs’ efforts. The chef wears jeans and Converse, and has a tattoo of a large knife on his right forearm. A compass is also visible on his left elbow. “From time to time I’ve lost my direction on my journey as a chef; I haven’t always recognised the value of this career path”, Fuchs explains. But thanks to head chefs like Nenad Mlinarevic, he has rediscovered his professional pride.

Fuchs stirs a pure spelt risotto, then combines it with herb oil, pickled wild garlic capers from last summer and Belper Knolle cheese. Calmly and methodically, he then serves it onto the plate. His dishes appear natural, organic and accessible; the effort behind a complex taste experience is often not noticeable at first glance, but it can certainly be tasted instantly. In any case, Fuchs is not a loud man; he is softly spoken and thinks before he opens his mouth. He’s actually at his loudest when his favourite team, the Zurich Grasshoppers, are playing.

When asked what inspires the young but already-established chef, Fuchs says: “A new dish always starts in your head. For example, a vegetable farmer brings me purple salsify and I start to put together a dish with it in my head. The actual cooking phase is then simply an executive activity. Then I get into the subtleties – a little acidity here, something crisp there…” His goal is always focused on a harmony of tastes rather than a variety of techniques. Beetroot, for example, is braised and smoked for three days until it has a unique taste and incomparable consistency.

Fabian Fuchs turns to his next dish: Swiss beef brisket. The meat is often thought of as a secondary cut, unlike prime cuts like fillet steak or entrecôte (rib-eye). Fuchs marinated it first, then hot-smoked it for 18 hours at 58 degrees before finally vacuum-packing it and steam cooking for 48 hours at 56 degrees. This extensive effort results in a small roll: a steam-cooked yeast dough bun. Add a little veal jus along with some fresh, pickled crunchy gherkins and you have a snack bursting with flavour and refinement that doesn’t look like much, but tastes of a lot.

It fits well with what Fabian Fuchs has to say about himself and his eating habits: “I like simple food that I can enjoy because the quality is spot on.” After all, the most important thing is who you are eating with, Fuchs concludes in his quiet, honest way. And, on reflection, you have to agree with him wholeheartedly.

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