How long have you been living in Zurich?
I’ve been living here for almost 12 years. I moved here from Ireland for a temporary job and haven’t been able to tear myself away! I’m a Zürcher through and through, and have only ever lived in the city.
What do you love most about Zurich?
I love the contrasts in the city. There’s so much variation between the beautiful, traditional old town and the more modern and diverse parts of the city around Langstrasse and Zurich West. You can start the day sipping coffee in a historical café in Niederdorf and end it listening to live music in a beer garden made out of old shipping containers.
I also love how the city changes with the seasons. In the summer, everyone spends all their time outside, swimming in the rivers or lake and hiking in the hills around Zurich. In winter, people wrap up and explore the Christmas markets or sit in front of a fire and indulge in wonderful cheese fondue.
What do you do?
I’m a chef, blogger, food tour guide and sommelier. I also teach cooking and wine classes, and am passionate about passing on my knowledge of food and drinks. My hobbies include traveling (to foodie destinations), reading (cookbooks) and hiking.
How do you feel about the food scene in Zurich?
It’s so exciting!! When I first moved here, it was very difficult to find anyone cooking outside the box. Most restaurants served predictable, bland takes on Italian classics, with no adventure or flair. In the last few years, there has been a complete change: Young chefs and entrepreneurs are creating fabulous food experiences, with everything from Peruvian food trucks to high-end restaurants serving only vegetarian foods. It’s so hard to keep up with all the fun new developments (but I’m willing to try)!
Name your top 3 restaurants in Zurich.
Ooooooohh. This is a toughie! I probably visit Il Pentagramma more than anywhere else. They have the best Italian sandwiches and piadini. It’s not a bit fancy, but the food is delicious and a huge “buon giorno” is guaranteed. Kafi für Dich is probably my favorite spot for brunch on the weekends. They have an excellent buffet, with Middle Eastern influences. They also have a play corner for children, which keeps my little girl very happy (and me too)! For very special occasions, I make reservations at Isebähnli. They offer an ever-changing tasting menu, and I’ve never been disappointed. They also have the most incredible wine selection, which they keep in their 800 years old cellars. The old school atmosphere and excellent service makes you feel really well looked after.
Where would you take a date?
I would make sure the sun is shining, and it’s nice and warm. We would meet at Bürkliplatz, and stroll along the lake, until we got to Fischer’s Fritz. There, we would sit under a parasol, sipping a bottle of chilled rosé and eating some fresh fish “knusperli” with tartare sauce.
Which Swiss dishes would you encourage travelers to try?
If they are here in autumn, they have to try a dessert with vermicelles! It looks like beige worms, but is in fact chestnut paste. It’s best served with meringue and double cream, or sucked straight out of the tube. In winter cheese fondue is an absolute must! It’s a cliché for a reason. Always order ‘moitié-moitié’ (half Gruyère cheese, half Vacherin Fribourgois cheese) and pair it with a glass of Swiss Chasselas wine. My favorite dish on the ski slopes is Ghackets mit Hörnli. It’s like Swiss macaroni with bolognese, but they serve it with apple sauce. Such a great combination, and it really sets you up for more sport in the afternoon. Finally, you can’t leave Zurich without sampling the Luxemburgerli from Sprüngli. They are a smaller, lighter version of the French macaron.