Excellence through consistency

Excellence meets Marcel Skibba

Head chef Marcel Skibba is Andreas Caminada’s second-in-command at Schloss Schauenstein and is responsible for ensuring that the restaurant stays consistently excellent.

Originally from southern Germany, Marcel Skibba has been working under Andreas Caminada at Schloss Schauenstein since April 2015, and during his time there the friendly 35-year-old has shown himself to be a talented and reliable head chef. For five seasons Skibba has also been a constant presence as the head of “IGNIV” in Badrutt’s Palace in St. Moritz, having co-developed the concept. Caminada now refers to him as “my second-in-command”, the one with the key task of supporting him day-to-day so he can concentrate on the essentials, and keeping the team on track. The two chefs work together to constantly improve the restaurant’s cuisine and guarantee the quality remains high and worthy of its 3 Michelin stars and 19 GaultMillau points.

“Consistency is the key to excellence,” says Marcel Skibba, meaning that for their food to remain at the same high standard at all times, there must be no variations. “Like athletes, we need to be able to deliver the best-possible results over and over to stay at the level we have achieved,” Skibba continues.

This also means creating and re-creating a distinct flavour palette that is the signature of Caminada’s cuisine. Marcel Skibba uses an easy-to-understand example to illustrate his point, telling us, “We don’t reduce our jus too much as otherwise they lose their flavour and you just end up with a strong sweet and salty taste. We want the natural aromas of the food to be discernible, for example a lamb jus should taste of lamb.”

To ensure that the kitchen stays true to this principle, Marcel Skibba tastes dishes before and during service – while his guests are enjoying their “Schauenstein” meal – over and over, including marinated salads, every puree and of course the sauces. “And because the flavour can change during the service itself, you have to constantly readjust,” the head chef explains.

The magic of cooking, says Marcel Skibba, is essentially realizing that he can give the recipe for a jus to three different chefs, who follow it to the letter – “yet what each one actually produces will still taste different.” His job, he tells us, is to constantly check that the flavours of the food remain consistent, ensuring that the “Schauenstein” cuisine remains excellent, and to recalibrate if necessary.

And because cooking is a team sport, he continues, he can only achieve excellence if he gives his team of chefs very clear instructions, and if there is a healthy degree of tension in the kitchen, “but no unhealthy feeling of pressure.” He says that because he’s always there to answer questions he gets to know his team well, which in turn reduces the potential for error. Marcel Skibba’s route to excellence by staying consistent is ultimately down to a keen sense of how both flavours and people work.

More impressions in the video

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