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Old 17.01.2017, 15:55
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Re: British food in Switzerland - would it work?

Really wondering now, whether I shall open my home as a kind of small private resto/ dinner club thingy......presumably, there would be a thousand miles long red tape to overcome first...
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Old 17.01.2017, 17:23
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Re: British food in Switzerland - would it work?

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Not sure where to start, so I'll start with the OP (and for those that don't know me, I have spent the last 9 years selling British cheese to the Swiss - so i know a bit about this subject). I very much doubt a British style eatery would work in the sticks, you need a city with an international and internationally minded audience (as I have said many times here, don't start something to target the specific expats, the locals are the biggest client base and they are happier to spend more on high quality). But, further to my comment about a "British style eatery"....



Exactly. A restaurant opened last year in Zürich, a friend of mine is the chef (the kitchen is run by an Englishman, an Irishman and a Scotsman - no joke) and they have done just what Tom suggests. It is not a "British" restaurant, but a lot of the menu is British influenced and part of the name is British (but that comes from one of the partner companies, Smith & Smith wine). I haven't eaten there yet but I have heard good reviews about them. Their web site is only in German (although the menu is in English too).... they carefully slip some British and Irish dishes "under the radar" so to speak.

But, if one was to open a British restaurant, do it properly. Go upper stylish not pub style, no pictures of London taxis and red telephone boxes, make the menu stylish with some international dishes with a British twist (like my Scottish Fondue, the locals love it) and target your marketing carefully. And have a very British front man - the Swiss love the Brits, especially our humour and charm.

If I was to very broadly generalise, I would split the locals into 3 categories/age groups for marketing and targeting.

60's - 70's and over - a lot of this age group traveled and worked in the UK in the 50's and 60's, either as au pairs or businessmen and most have very fond memories of the country, including the food. They know Stilton is the "King of Cheese", they loved Roast beef and Yorkshire Puddings and they still dream about Scones and Clotted Cream

40'5 - 50's - this is the age group where many went to Brighton to learn English during the 60's and 70's and experienced bad food, these are a tough lot to crack (but they still love Scones and Clotted Cream)

20's - 30's - Many may have heard of our bad food reputation, but they admire Jamie Oliver and Britain is cool - the music, London, the arts, fashion, TV etc etc and they will gladly buy into the cool factor (the Gay community of all ages fall into this camp too)

Above all have confidence in your offer, in the face of derision calmly explain about the history and culture of British food, that it's not all bad (and admit that in the 60's and 70's there was a lot of bad stuff) and you could win enough of the locals over (and get the press involved, they love a good story like this).

.................................................. .................................................. ....

And now just a little about our bad reputation. As Eastenders very well points out, a lot of this comes from WW2 and rationing (mostly ended by 1952) and into the 60's the country was still suffering from food shortages. But I would go further. There is a puritanical streak in the British (that is much weaker these days) that was strengthened after WW2 - "we mustn't enjoy ourselves too much, we need to rebuild, we don't need all that fancy food that they eat over the channel, beans on toast and egg and chips was good enough for us during the war, nothing wrong with enjoying that now" (I often thought it was only a post WW2 phenomenon but I read a book about British cheese published in the 30's and the author was complaining about the British consumer being too puritanical to enjoy special food even then).

Then after WW2 supermarkets started opening in the UK bringing cheaper processed food.

Going back earlier though, the Industrial Revolution was started in the UK. We were the first country that separated large numbers of the population from the land and moved them into the cities and factories. Generations followed that couldn't remember where food really came from (unlike in France, Italy and Spain today where many city based families still have small plots of farm land in the family) and became suspicious of too earthy agricultural food. And at the same time we were the first country to industrialise food production.

Also, Britain is a large group of islands separated from mainland Europe and our food dishes developed differently so in the main British dishes are different to continental european traditions - many people of all countries identify "different" with "bad".

But a lot of this has been changing since the 80's, traditional British food was back on the menu, British chefs were cool, Marco Pierre White (my old school mate BTW ) was the first British chef to win 3 Michelin stars, famous foreign chefs started opening restaurants in the UK (and not just cooking their French and Italian dishes, but re-worked traditional British recipes) and traditional British pubs (starting in London) rebranded themselves as "Gastro-pubs". Britain now makes more different styles of cheese than any country, sparkling wine from the south coast of England is among the best in the world and there is more and more food confidence in the educated population and more and more visitors from overseas are learning that there is great food in the UK, and that their own home grown variety is not necessarily better, it's just different.
Grumpy mentioned in his long post that foreign chefs started opening up restaurants in the UK. This of course included none other than Switzerland's own Anton Mossiman.
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Old 17.01.2017, 17:45
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Re: British food in Switzerland - would it work?

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.................................................. .................................................. ....

And now just a little about our bad reputation. As Eastenders very well points out, a lot of this comes from WW2 and rationing (mostly ended by 1952) and into the 60's the country was still suffering from food shortages. But I would go further. There is a puritanical streak in the British (that is much weaker these days) that was strengthened after WW2 - "we mustn't enjoy ourselves too much, we need to rebuild, we don't need all that fancy food that they eat over the channel, beans on toast and egg and chips was good enough for us during the war, nothing wrong with enjoying that now" (I often thought it was only a post WW2 phenomenon but I read a book about British cheese published in the 30's and the author was complaining about the British consumer being too puritanical to enjoy special food even then).

Then after WW2 supermarkets started opening in the UK bringing cheaper processed food.

Going back earlier though, the Industrial Revolution was started in the UK. We were the first country that separated large numbers of the population from the land and moved them into the cities and factories. Generations followed that couldn't remember where food really came from (unlike in France, Italy and Spain today where many city based families still have small plots of farm land in the family) and became suspicious of too earthy agricultural food. And at the same time we were the first country to industrialise food production.
On this subject, I think the issue goes deeper than that. If you look at continental gardens, they're all about growing veggies. British gardening is traditionally about manicured lawns and fine roses. Food was not something to be proud of but something you hid away and didn't show off about. From not talking about it came maybe a feeling of inadequacy and inferiority, which became a self fulfilling prophecy as if you don't believe you can do something you don't try, and thus look to others for help. If you look at the vocabulary of fine gastronomy, so many words are French, chef, cuisine, hors d'oevre. From a relatively early point we have looked to other nations for inspiration in eating. This maybe also explains why Indian food for example is so popular in Britain.
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Old 17.01.2017, 17:51
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Re: British food in Switzerland - would it work?

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Grumpy mentioned in his long post that foreign chefs started opening up restaurants in the UK. This of course included none other than Switzerland's own Anton Mossiman.
And a young Swiss chef who went over there to learn from and work with him returned to CH a few years ago and is now the chef at the British Embassy Residence in Bern. He was taught by Mossiman, and subsequently taught me, that for the best Welsh Rarebit, you need to use Cheshire cheese as well as Cheddar. First time I'd heard that, but he's right, it's fantastic!
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Old 17.01.2017, 23:31
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Re: British food in Switzerland - would it work?

Anton Mosimann (one s only , nitpicker modus out) is a local lad, hailing from Nidau, a stone's throw away from me. Was very involved with Swiss cancer prevention charity and I am very very proud of the guy, he's got an OBE! I don't think many Swiss have had this honour!
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Old 25.01.2017, 16:07
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Re: British food in Switzerland - would it work?

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And a young Swiss chef who went over there to learn from and work with him returned to CH a few years ago and is now the chef at the British Embassy Residence in Bern. He was taught by Mossiman, and subsequently taught me, that for the best Welsh Rarebit, you need to use Cheshire cheese as well as Cheddar. First time I'd heard that, but he's right, it's fantastic!
And just last week I went out for dinner to La Contrada in Zürich. I've walked past this place countless times and for some reason I just presumed it was a basic Italian place. But my Eqyptian friend who took me and another foody friend knows the owners, a very friendly Swiss lady and her Tunisian husband.

The food is a mix of Middle Eastern and European Mediterranean. Their son is the chef and after our meal (seriously, probably the best restaurant meal I have had here - a shared seafood platter, so perfectly executed and braised veal cheeks with Truffle mash) he came out to talk to us. He has just spent 2 years in London working and training with Mossiman.
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