The Top of the Tops

Great chats with Great Chefs

One-on-One with Chef Gregor Zimmerman of the Bellevue Palace Hotel - Bern, Switzerland
Swiss cuisine is elegant, classic and above all flavoursome
Isis Basnayaka exposes deluxe cuisine with Bellevue Palace Head Chef Gregor Zimmerman.

Executive Traveller's Isis Basnayaka chats to Bellevue Palace, Bern's Executive Head Chef Gregor Zimmerman

Switzerland invokes images of understated elegance, luxury and vibrant nature. The same could also be said for its cuisine. The Bellevue Palace in Bern is one of 39 unique 5* hotels under the Deluxe Hotels Group. Head Chef Gregor Zimmermann has cooked for numerous heads of state and is one of the select few chosen to make up the ‘Chefs de Chef’ circle. Zimmerman started his career in 1991 and after teaching at the School for young chefs in Baden, Zurich, he joined the Bellevue Palace as Sous-Chef in 2004 and became its Executive Chef in 2007.

How long have you been at the Bellevue Palace Hotel?
I have been at the Bellevue Palace Hotel for 6 years now. Before that I had my own restaurant in Switzerland. I have also worked all around the world in places such as the United States and Singapore.
What made you decide to be a Chef in a hotel?
The main delight of working for a hotel is that I get to make cuisine for the very many different guests there. I am also able to be completely creative with the menu.
Who is your inspiration?
Anton Mosimonn of course.
How many times do you change the menu?
The menu changes four times a year with each season ensuring the freshest most natural ingredients.
What would you say epitomises your cuisine?
I strip my menu back to roots. All food sourced are made from the best possible ingredients and simply, my food is about really tasting the ingredients. I only use three or four ingredients per dish, then I add oil and seasoning to highlight the flavours.
So, you are only one of 25 chefs globally who are part of the prestigious Chefs de Chef club. How does it feel?
Great of course, it is an honour.
As well as the prestige and the accolade, is there anything else you get from it?
I am part of a network of like-minded people. Some are friends and we even cook for one another.
Now that you have joined the chef’s club what do you feel you need to achieve?
Everyday I feel I need to do my best for myself and my guests. I like my cuisine to be appreciated and enjoy receiving applause for it.
Where do you get your ideas for your creations?
My creations come from anywhere, though most of my ideas come to me whilst playing the Piano. I love to play Jazz and Blues. I think it is a perfect combination if creativity and improvisation - music and cuisine go hand in hand.
I also find a lot of my inspiration from the nature around me. Sometimes I will see something which intrigues me and I wonder how I can make a dish look like that.
If you could cook for anyone – who would it be?
ACDC of course! (AC/DC are an Australian rock band formed in 1973 by brothers Malcolm and Angus Young)

Try out Chef Zimmerman’s Barley Soup Grison Style here.

Other delicacies from Chef Zimmerman
Beef Carpaccio, rocket and parmesan crisp
The deep red beef carpaccio went beautifully with a peppery hint of rocket, complemented by the parmesan crisp’s salty crunch. The flavours simple, but packing a punch.
Pikeperch on a bed of caramelized rhubarb with Jerusalem artichoke chips
The dish was beautifully presented. The fish was simply firm and moist. The caramelized rhubarb provides the sharpness whilst the artichoke provides the texture making sure the dish is balanced.
Toblerone chocolate mousse
Switzerland being the home of chocolate and Toblerone the mousse had high standards to live up to. It was light, rich and melted in the mouth. The bitter chocolate slice makes a perfect accompaniment.

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• Face to face with Maritim Hotel, Stuttgart’s Executive Head Chef Rudolf Wachner and Chino Latino’s Executive Head Chef Werner Seeback at the LondonPark Plaza Riverbank
• One on One with Restaurant Daniel’s Chef Bryce Leygonie
Face to face with Chef Rafi Ben-Hemo at the Ein Gedi Botanical Gardens and Resort, Dead Sea – Israel
• Face to face with Nigel Frost, Executive Head Chef of London Hilton Metropole
• Deluxe cuisine exposed through the eyes of Bern’s Bellevue Palace Head Chef Gregor Zimmerman


© Executive Traveller 2003