As one of Switzerland’s best-known native chefs, Reto Mathis captains an empire of celebrated restaurants in his home country. (The most highly acclaimed of these, La Marmite, sits at the staggering height of 8,000 feet in the St. Moritz mountain resort of Corviglia.) In 2007, Chef Mathis took his refined-yet-traditional Swiss cuisine to new heights, when he was a featured chef in Swiss International Air Lines’ onboard culinary program, SWISS Taste of Switzerland.
Q: Your restaurant La Marmite is the highest-altitude dining spot in Europe. Were you the obvious choice to take fine Swiss cuisine airborne?
A: In a sense, yes. SWISS has been a longtime partner of the St. Moritz Gourmet Festival, of which I am President…so they knew my culinary skills when they asked to bring me on board. Still, it was a great surprise and honor to be given this opportunity with them. Cooking for SWISS brings me closer to heaven than any of my other restaurants!
Q: What were your greatest challenges in adapting your cuisine for airplane passengers?
A: The biggest challenge of in-flight cuisine is, of course, that all dishes have to be prepared on the ground and reheated on the plane. This can be tricky, but I strive to come up with menus that are as authentic as possible. Many passengers on SWISS flights have also been guests in my restaurants—they have very high expectations!
Q: How much knowledge do you feel people outside of Switzerland know about Swiss cuisine?
A: I’m afraid that for most non-natives, the Swiss culinary image is basically limited to chocolate, cheese and fondue. Many people don’t realize, for instance, that when they’re eating sliced veal in cream sauce, or a veal bratwurst with rösti potatoes, that they are enjoying an original Swiss specialty!
Q: Do you feel it’s important to serve Swiss cuisine on SWISS, Switzerland’s national carrier?
A: It’s an absolute must. Swiss cuisine is a very important component of our country’s history, culture and heritage—and Swiss hospitality is known around the world for its distinction. These are the assets that passengers expect when they book on SWISS.