What to do in Zermatt in summer
For those lucky enough to live and work in our beautiful ski resort high in the Swiss Alps, it’s a charmed life: you have incredible skiing in the winter and extreme hiking, biking, climbing and glacier snowboarding in the summer, all under the majestic gaze of the the iconic Matterhorn mountain. We chat to our chef Mark Ruiz Kissling, a Swiss-Spanish Barcelona native who for 4 seasons has called Zermatt home, on what he likes to do when he’s not cooking delicious dishes in the Brasserie Uno kitchen.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not at work?
Most of the time I like to go biking on my breaks because I can just get on my bike and go and it’s fast to get up and down the mountain. On my days off, I like to go snowboarding or climbing. For me, biking on my breaks is a way for me to be in nature and be by myself – it’s kind of like my meditation. I can chill in a field, take in some sun. I like doing extreme sports because it gives me energy and afterwards I feel powerful because I feel like I’ve done something.
When I’m working, I go biking at Blauherd and Sunnegga – I do this every day because I can do a few runs in my break. I also like Gornergrat because of the views of the glacier, and Schwarzsee. I also really like the black trail at Trockener Steg – the first part is slow and super rocky and technical, then it’s more free-ride style, open fast and flowy, and then the last part is steep and it goes through the forest, which I love because of all the trees and tree roots. When I’m biking I always stop and see if there is anything wild growing in the forest or on the mountain that I can bring back to the restaurant.
So you go foraging in the forest and on the mountain?
Whenever I’m in nature, I look for things to use in the kitchen, like thyme, wood sorrel, water cress. flowers or berries. It’s a present from nature and for me it’s another connection to nature – biking is a connection, picking herbs is a connection. It’s very satisfying to combine everything, to combine sports, nature and the restaurant.
Using wild ingredients adds something special both to the flavour of the food and also to the concept of the restaurant – it’s pure and unmanufactured and it makes everything fresh and more human. Also, when you pick things yourself, you have more respect for nature, but I don’t like to abuse – I only take what I need and never more. I don’t believe in wasting anything. When I’ve got what I need, I always try to stop and give a gift back to nature, so if I stop and pick flowers, I will put one in a tree as a thank you to nature.
What do you love about being a chef?
I like to make people happy with food and see how they enjoy our meals. It’s my passion and I really feel complete when I am cooking, especially here in this kitchen with this atmosphere – it’s super natural and creative and I can be how I am; I don’t need to play a role or be false. In other kitchens, I have to be what the chef wants me to be, but here, I can be natural. In our kitchen, our dishes are seasonal, fresh, local when possible and minimalist; we like to use the best products and be minimalistic with flavour. We don’t touch it too much. I like having a blackboard menu, as it means we can play with the freshness of the products and when a dish is finished, it’s finished.