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GOURMET travel: Anton Mosimann OBE, DL

Anton Mosimann's private dining club is a Belgravia landmark. Mosimann’s has been a family run business for over 25 years. Its exclusive London location and reputation for fine food  make it a favourite with the aristocracy. The club attracts such patrons as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge  (Mosimann catered their wedding reception) and Prince Charles. The Swiss-born chef terms his culinary style cuisine naturelle as it emphasises healthy and natural ingredients. These days Mosimann is just as likely to be spotted driving a vintage rally car as in the kitchen but he will be one of a select band of celebrity chefs hosting pop-up dinners aboard the classic Belmond  trains, British Pullman and Northern Belle,  in 2015.

Your parents were restauranteurs in Nidau, were you always going to be a chef?
I was always going to be a chef.  As a child I used to cook on my parents’ day off, standing on a chair to stir the pots and then I would serve up dinner for my friends.  I still get a thrill from seeing people who have thoroughly enjoyed a meal that I have cooked for them.

How does running a private dining club differ from say, working as Maitre Chef des Cuisines at The Dorchester?
I am cooking for members and of course I know all of them; some for over 25 years and I know their children too.  I know their likes and dislikes and when I am standing at the front door to welcome them, it really does feel as if they are coming home.  I very much consider them to be friends not just guests or customers.

What is your definition of a 'good' meal?
A dish perfectly and simply cooked but using the best possible ingredient.  Ideally it would be served to a group coming together to share friendship, good food and bottle of exceptional wine.

What was your most memorable meal ever?
There are no many, it’s difficult to choose just one, but sitting at table 5 on the terrace of The Coral Beach Club in Bermuda, watching the sunset, while dining on grilled local lobster, was certainly very special.

Food creates memories. Is there a dish that instantly evokes a favourite travel experience or destination?
When I smell a perfectly ripe tomato and some crushed basil leaves I am instantly transported to the time when I worked in Rome.  For me, that smell is the fragrance of summer. 

Which countries and which cuisines are you most influenced by?
I have travelled extensively in the Far East and the flavours and style of cooking in those countries are most aligned to my favourite cuisine.  The fresh tuna, which my wife and I enjoyed on our Wedding Anniversary at The Beach House in Bora Bora, a few years ago, was a truly wonderful experience.  I cooked in Japan for the Expo in 1970 and it was during those intense months that I formed my style of cooking.  The ingredient is the king of the dish and when steamed or sautéed quickly in pan, all the flavours are captured and ready for you to simply savour.

What does 'luxury ' (in relation to travel) mean to you?
Service.  To have exemplary service is a real luxury.  Fortunately where you get good service you usually are in some pretty spectacular and beautiful locations.

You have said your earliest taste memory is of Emmental cheese.  When travelling, is there a 'comfort food' dish which reminds you of home?
The Swiss veal sausage served with Röesti has to be the meal that instantly transports me to Switzerland.

Apart from your own, what are some of your favourite restaurants?
We are so lucky in London to be able to enjoy such a variety of cuisines.  I very much enjoy Indian dishes and of course Chinese too.  Every Sunday all of my family, together with their wives and children come together for Dim Sum.  We have a huge round table and everyone shares food and stories too.

Other chefs that inspire you? 
During my years I have trained so many excellent chefs who have gone on to be executive chefs in the best hotels and restaurants throughout the world.  I too am still hungry to learn and I enjoy travelling and seeing how local chefs cook with the most rudimentary of equipment and the most amazing ingredients.  I have been lucky in that I worked with some incredible chefs who really took time to mentor me, such as Albert Schnell from the Queen Elizabeth II hotel in Montreal, who not only taught me so much, but was (and is) a real gentleman.

Name your three favourite hotels?
This is a very difficult question – as there are so many that it is impossible to name just three, so I will name 4.  I could start with The Palace in Montreux where its gym overlooks the magnificent Lake Geneva and to spend an hour there each day is utterly motivating.  Belmond Hotel Cipriani in Venice has such a magical setting on Giudecca Island that it would have to feature on my favourites list and for happy memories it would have to be The Palace in Gstaad.  The Palace in St. Moritz would be another, which has a special significance for me, as I worked and learned a lot there.  Thank you once again to the Chefs who were there at the time (one of which was 82 and drank a bottle of Champagne a day – Lucky him!)

The cruise liner is about to sink, which three ingredients do you take to the desert island?
Some freshly caught scallops, a pot of basil and a chilled bottle of Mosimann’s Champagne!

Where to next?
Since my two sons took over the day-to-day running of Mosimann’s, it has given me more freedom and together with my wife (who incidentally is a fantastic navigator) we have embarked upon a series of some amazing car rallies, driving old classic cars.  We did the centennial Peking to Paris Rally, two in South America, one through Vietnam and another through Eastern Europe.  I have also been able to do a series of international motivational speaking events and cooking special dinners globally.  I love to travel, so I take every opportunity that I can, fortunately being a chef, you are always welcome, wherever there is a kitchen!

 

On 9 October 2015 Anton Mosimann will be a celebrity chef for one of the series of pop-up dinners on-board the Belmond British Pullman and Belmond Northern Belle in 2015. These one-off fine-dining experiences  will be hosted by some of England’s best chefs. As well as Mosimann, Tom Kerridge of the two-Michelin-star The Hand and Flowers in Marlow, Raymond Blanc of Belmond property Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons will also take part . 
Formerly known as Orient-Express, the company’s most famous offering remains the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, and the British Pullman and Northern Belle trains, are equally elegant. The pop-up dinners taking place throughout the year will see each chef serve a tasting menu, with sommelier’s wine pairings.  For dates see
www.belmond.com, www.mosimann.com
 

Posted 10/4/15

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