Passionate chef Heiko Nieder is a trailblazer in the world of gastronomy, who is pushing culinary boundaries at The Dolder Grand. Here, he talks about his work, industry trends and the future.
What do you consider to be your greatest professional achievements?
In 2003, I was awarded “Discovery of the Year” by GaultMillau and won my first Michelin star a year later. As culinary director at Dolder Grand, I oversee the culinary concept, steering our ambitious vision with meticulous care and innovation. In 2010, our signature eatery, The Restaurant, won its second Michelin star and now also holds 19 GaultMillau points. As well as supporting the other restaurants in achieving success and global recognition. I also launched our annual Gourmet Festival, THE EPICURE. The event sees top chefs from all over the world come together at the Dolder Grand. This year featured a total of 29 Michelin stars and countless GaultMillau points. I have been lucky enough to have received several other prestigious awards over the years. Furthermore, I have published a cookbook, “Heiko Nieder – The Restaurant”. My work inspires me every day.
Can you describe your cooking style and the creative process behind developing a new dish or menu item?
Whenever I start creating something new, I begin with a desire to surprise myself and discover something new. Never do I want my day-to-day life in the kitchen to be boring. I push boundaries, not just for those who will be enjoying the food but for myself as well. I select key ingredients for my dishes, adapting to the season and ensuring a cohesive and flavorful meal experience. Moving forward, I then think about the preparation techniques and how to dress the dishes, aiming to tie them together on the plate. For the finishing touches, I consider unexpected elements like a lychee, tarragon, gherkin and wasabi canapé, adding delightful surprises to dishes. A bite that delivers a real taste sensation and pulls everything together.
What are the culinary trends of 2024?
This is a tricky question but not one I tend to dwell on. Trends are usually just recurrences of things from the past. Take “regional,” for example. In the past, there was practically no choice but to eat regional food. “Nose to tail” … something that essentially any good chef should be able to master. Here, it rather depends on the guests and whether they really want to eat everything Mother Nature has provided. Although I try to cook with the times, I don’t want to be drawn too much to follow any trend. Furthermore, if I did, I would have to change my style every year. Navigating culinary evolution while adhering to one’s ethos defines a talented chef. It is all about showcasing adaptability without compromising personal culinary philosophy. In addition to not being swayed too much by what the “trend” is today.
How are you reimagining fine-dining classics to bring a modern touch to your dishes?
I love to push limits and create unique and inspiring dishes with the utmost attention to detail. My joy lies in crafting artful dishes, delighting people with tantalizing flavors and fresh, seasonal produce, creating a memorable culinary experience. The basis of fine dining is mostly underpinned by a classical approach or cooking technique. Incorporating unconventional elements births a novel dish, offering guests a familiar yet new culinary experience, blending tradition with innovation.
What are your plans for The Dolder Grand?
Ensuring the smooth operation of recent projects like the Blooms Summer Garden, a refined vegan/vegetarian restaurant in our beautiful grounds. Recently, we were honored with “Hotel of the Year 2024” by GaultMillau, so we now proudly boast a total of 64 GaultMillau points. Gastronomy is a real focus at the Dolder Grand. Therefore, maintaining our standing on the international culinary scene and continuing to innovate is always top of my list. Plans for a Chef’s Table in our kitchen at The Restaurant are also in place. Consequently, this exciting new step allows us to engage more with our guests. I have an idea for another new pop-up concept and maybe even a cookbook filled with easy-to-follow recipes for everyone.