An astonishing success story

Dominik Hartmann

In Rickenbach, near Schwyz, a little miracle of haute cuisine has taken place virtually overnight. At the heart of it all is likeable 29-year-old Dominik Hartmann, who has caused quite a stir with his restaurant Magdalena.

Nothing short of a miracle has taken place in a modern housing development in Rickenbach, near Schwyz. Between the two lockdowns, Dominik Hartmann, who is just 29 years old, his wife Adriana and friend Marco Appert opened up the restaurant Magdalena, which has been causing quite a stir in gourmet circles ever since.

Hartmann was awarded 15 points by GaultMillau for Discovery of the Year, then the Michelin Guide awarded the restaurant two Michelin stars, which is a rare feat even on an international scale. But the Magdalena isn’t your typical gourmet restaurant. While guests are enjoying views of the Rigi, the town of Schwyz and Lake Lauerz through the floor-to-ceiling windows, they are served a predominantly vegetarian menu.

The fact that he shot up through the ranks so quickly came as quite a surprise for the reserved and amiable Dominik Hartmann: “To begin with, I just wanted to cook. When we started in 2020, we were fresh and motivated, but then we quickly realised what our goals and capabilities were”, he says. Hartmann, a trained pastry chef and confectioner, added a cooking apprenticeship to his first training course and then refined his technical skills under Andreas Caminada and Fabian Fuchs.

His goal is to achieve an “unmistakable uniqueness”, says Hartmann. The Schwyz-born chef is working on this goal with calmness and clarity, but also passion and commitment – for example, he’s always the first in the kitchen every morning making his sourdough bread with mountain potatoes from the Albula valley, as “I can’t delegate that to anyone else”, he says. The Hartmann family also takes the sourdough starter with them when they go on holiday to Spain for ten days: “it’s like a pet I have to feed”, says Hartmann with a wry smile.

With four chefs, an apprentice and an intern, Dominik Hartmann is creating modern, light, regional and predominantly vegetarian cuisine. Fermentation plays an important role in the flavour profile. The goal is complexity and depth, and to achieve it, time is often the most important ingredient – and attention to detail entails a lot of work in the kitchen. The only meat course in the summer menu, for example, is beef knuckle steam braised for 72 hours at 62 degrees.

To do this, Hartmann uses a V-ZUG steam cooker: the meat is seared, vacuum-sealed with a veal jus, and then gently braised for three days. But steaming at a precisely controlled temperature is also perfect for regenerating food or cooking fruit and vegetables, says Hartmann. For example, the chef initially grills fennel on a charcoal grill before vacuum-sealing and steaming it at 85 degrees.

It is not only the preparation of high-quality cuisine that takes time – ideas need time to mature, too. In bed at night, Hartmann finally has the peace and quiet needed to develop his creativity. When he is unable to sleep, he thinks about new dishes, then he and his team test out his nocturnal inspirations. He continues to refine them until he’s satisfied that they are good enough to go on the menu. “We are all very ambitious and motivated and have bold aspirations”, is how Dominik Hartmann sums up his quest for excellence.

More impressions in the video

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