©  (c) Marco Minnig / Destination Gstaad / Müller Medien

A gold medal winner in fine dining - (G)Olden

Long-serving Head Chef at the Hotel Olden and manager of the Swiss National Culinary Teams, Tobia Ciarulli knows exactly what high-profile diners want.

Ambling along the iconic promenade in the heart of Gstaad is a wonderful experience at any time of year. Visitors from all over the world, locals, newcomers and students at the international schools all stream along the pedestrianised street, past picturesque chalet façades. Besides the boutiques and other shops, the traditional restaurants are a major draw. Over his 19 years at the Hotel Olden, Head Chef Tobia Ciarulli has cooked for myriad high-profile guests, before winning a sensational double world championship title while managing the Swiss National Culinary Teams at the Culinary World Cup in Luxembourg in November 2022. He has won a total of 20 gold medals in international cooking competitions. In other words, he knows exactly what diners in Gstaad want. 

©  (c) Marco Minnig / Destination Gstaad / Müller Medien

Why are there so many excellent restaurants in the Gstaad region? 

The Gstaad holiday region is a gathering place for notable figures from politics, business, sport, film and music, so there’s a real demand for first-class restaurants in these parts. However, my 19 years of experience as a head chef have shown me that many illustrious personages love simple, family-style cuisine.

How important are local ingredients in the cuisine of the region? 

Although it seems to have become a bona fide trend only in recent years, the use of local products, with zero food miles, has always been practised by chefs, who specialise in transforming local products into delicacies and professionally combining them with international cuisine. The support of local producers and promotion of local products such as delicious cheese and meat specialities play an important part, too. With over 20 million bees in the holiday region, our honey is of superb quality thanks to the diverse flora here. Our regional specialities also delight people outside the Saanenland, and most local products can be bought as tasty gifts or taken home as a way of prolonging the holiday vibe. 

As Head Chef at the Hotel Olden for many years, which dishes have proven to be perennial favourites with regular diners? 

At the start, the most popular dishes were traditional Alpine fare like Swiss macaroni, raclette, fondue and Zurich-style veal stew with rösti. Over the years, in response to demand and perhaps due to my Italian roots, we increasingly turned to Mediterranean cuisine alongside local dishes. Some of the most popular dishes have long included Mediterranean-style sea bass, veal alla Milanese, spaghetti ‘Sciuè Sciuè’ and Zurich-style veal stew.

Which restaurants do you eat out at? 

I go to a number of restaurants in Gstaad from time to time. As far as I’m concerned, they’re all of a good standard and I don’t have any particular preferences.

You managed the Swiss National Culinary Teams for about seven years and won a clutch of gold medals. What sets the restaurants of the Gstaad holiday region apart? 

That takes me back! The challenges of finding skilled staff are nothing new. Despite the fame and renown of Gstaad’s restaurants and their internationally known chefs, it’s far from easy here either. But we usually manage to find skilled staff who are willing to work in Gstaad for at least one season and gain professional experience. This means that the kitchen staff are highly qualified, which enhances the quality of each individual restaurant. With a current total of 308 GaultMillau points and three Michelin stars, Gstaad is an excellent place for restaurant professionals to be. The region offers superb quality of life, too. With pristine landscapes all around, it’s easy to get out and recharge your batteries by hiking and cycling, or skiing in winter. 

To finish up, can you give us an insider tip? Where’s the one restaurant or what’s the one dish that every visitor to the Gstaad holiday region should try? 

There’s something to suit absolutely everyone here. Gstaad caters to every taste, from traditional to sophisticated.

©  (c) Unbekannt / Hotel Olden

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