I was born in a village called Strengelbach and at the age of 14 began my first apprenticeship at Baur au Lac, which is on the Lake of Zurich. Four years of days in the kitchen, schooling, and tests of cooking and writing. My first three-star Michelin experience was at Le Pont de Brent, just above Montreaux. Six years ago, when I came to San Francisco to work at the Hotel Compton, I didn’t think of the United States as a food destination. From there, I was recruited by Danny Meyer to work in New York. Here at Eleven Madison Park, we serve pure and market-driven French cuisine. We use classic flavor combinations, and a mix of classic and modern technique. I used to be on a Swiss mountain bike team and for awhile I had to make a decision: Cycling or cooking? So it was cooking. But I picked up marathons about four years ago. Two months ago, I finished the New York marathon in two hours and 51 minutes. That’s what relaxes and inspires me.
Oysters are part of the history of New York. The Native Americans ate them, and then the Dutch settlers in the early 17th century. In fact, they used to call Ellis Island “Oyster Island”! As the city grew, oysters were eaten all over town, sold from boats, in the street by itinerant vendors and in “oyster cellars.” They are eaten raw or cooked, prepared in all sorts of different ways. Ours come from the Widow’s Hole Oyster Company in Greenport, Long Island.
We took our inspiration from the legendary Delmonico’s, where every meal started with a mountain of oysters. Today, a meal at Eleven Madison Park always starts with an oyster! We also offer our own version of a dish made famous by the Grand Central Oyster Bar: Oyster pan roast, a spicy oyster and cream soup poured over a slice of toast.