Switch mode

Chef's Portrait - Patrick Mahler

Has been working as Chef de Cuisine at the fine dining restaurant «focus ATELIER »since spring 2018. Already in February 2019, the renowned Michelin Guide awarded his delicate and high-contrast cuisine with two of the coveted stars.

Swiss Deluxe Hotels Stories Summer 2021 Chefs Portrait Patrick Mahler 02 Patrickmahler16 Sw Ecirgb
Swiss Deluxe Hotels Stories Summer 2021 Chefs Portrait Patrick Mahler 01 DSC9437 Ecirgb

Let’s start by addressing a stereotype. Are chefs really all night owls who only surface at around midday?
I’m sorry to have to disappoint you… Even if I don’t get to bed until two in the morning, I’m generally up before eight. I’m a bit of a fitness fanatic and I like to hit the gym bright and early so I’m energised for the day ahead.

Do you think top athletes and top chefs are similar in any way?
I can definitely see the similarities here too. Ambition, stamina, drive and passion are essential. Luckily, ambitious young chefs don’t have to slave away to quite the extent they used to. There is some level of work-life balance these days.

Which sports do you like best?
I used to swim and play badminton a lot. In fact, I even made it onto the national badminton team. Unfortunately, it has been a long while since I even held a racket. And it’s not in my nature to just have the odd game here and there. For me, it’s all in or not at all. So I keep it simple and just head to the gym or go for a run.

Let’s get back to the kitchen… How would you describe each other’s cooking styles?
I can live with that description! When I think about Stefan’s food, the first thing that comes to mind is the incredibly intense flavours. Every bite is like a flavour train riding into your mouth. I would also say that he is passionate about using premium produce. He has a no-frills approach and focuses on getting the basics perfect. That’s what I’m looking for when I eat out.

And a few luxurious items on the menu?
Absolutely! I get really excited when I see wagyu beef, wild-caught turbot or Balfégo tuna on a menu.

Patrick, you cried when you were awarded two Michelin stars at once in 2019. What was going through your mind?
We had been through a challenging year. After Nenad Mlinarevic left, Focus needed more than just a new head chef. The whole concept needed updating too. All of the strain and tension just disappeared at the Michelin ceremony. And the fact that the stars were so unexpected made the occasion all the more momentous.

But no tears?
Definitely! We were surrounded by lots of our friends, supporters and idols. That’s bound to have an effect on you.

If you could make one wish on behalf of the hospitality sector, what would it be?
That’s easy! I would wish for service culture to live on forever. It is getting more and more difficult to find passionate service staff because they just don’t get anywhere near the same level of respect and appreciation that we get as chefs.

Words Alex Kuehn

Related Stories

Transformed into an exclusive Krug pop-up bar for a second year running, the terrace of the Dolder Grand is arguably one of the best vantage points to admire the awe-inspiring panoramic vistas over Zurich. The perfect place to catch up with Lisa Bader, Head Sommelier at the Dolder and GaultMillau Sommelier of the Year 2021.

Discover more

Specialising in turning brands and spaces into audible experiences, The Music Architect’s founder and creative director, former classical cellist Zoë Burnard, gives us a glimpse into her world of sights and sounds in ten questions.

Discover more

In the gourmet restaurant of Berlin’s legendary Adlon Hotel, Reto Brändli still fondly remembers the feeling when he first stood looking though the window out at the Brandenburger Tor.

Discover more

After studying medicine for three and a half years, Daniel Galvez Estrada decided to follow his dream and become a chef. As an ambassador for Peruvian cuisine, he takes his diners on a journey with his traditional ceviches and tiraditos.

Discover more

5 questions to Robert P. Herr, General Manager, Beau-Rivage Geneva.

Discover more

For Sapori Ticino’s founder Dany Stauffacher, great food and wines are not just earthly pleasures but also an education; a combination of culture, creativity and responsibility that brings forward conviviality, shared experiences and knowledge.

Discover more

A man of the mountains through and through, Hans-Jörg Walther is not known for mincing his words. True to form, the General Manager of the Riffelalp Resort says that his hotel is one of a kind. You could say the same about him.

Discover more