Switzerland / Zuerich 1969 - 1970
THE SWISS CHAPTER
The Ambassadors of Swiss Cuisine cooked for a week on our luxury liner and both of them became my friends, Walter Schudel and Mr. Sheer. After the African cruise, they took me sailing to their homeland, Switzerland.
They told me that it was an important place for a cook to work in. I believe till today that they are right.
Switzerland was a new target to study cooking and human flexibility. At first, I was treated like a low class expatriate worker. The friendly call from a Swiss National, " Shies Duetschew" translated "Schit German" opened my eyes. I understood that I was again being bullshit like years ago when I started my apprenticeship. The Gotthard Hotel in Zurich with its funny and highly motivated kitchen brigade taught me a lot.
For example, to break a human personality through vegetables brunoise cutting - taught by Sous Chef Junker. How to help a friend to get beer - taught by Chef Saucier Sep Erni, and also how to punch a commis - taught by the General Manager whose personality was so low that I have forgotten his name. This was in 1969. Luckily, the owner, Mr. Caspar E. Mans, understood the real way and accepted my return punch as a reflex.
What I learned at the fantastic seafood kitchen for the Bouillabaisse Restaurant and Lobster Bar still helps helps me a lot, even till today.
I was Commis Poissonir, a fish cook who was in charged of cleaning and cutting portions of seafood and fish. Once a week, a nightly arrival of an air cargo container with 1,300 kilogram of fish would arrived from Casablanca for the "Fliegende Fische" (Flying Fish Promotion).
My job was to unload, scale, clean and cut the fishes till the next morning. Here, for the very first time, I got shit from my Chef and learned to work very fast. I even got valuable encouragement after my boss, Mr. Hardmeyer, who pushed me towards a fantastic improvement - the whole kitchen brigade was able to work with me and I was no longer a "Shies Duetsche."
The position of a commis in this hotel was hard from the financial aspect. The monthly salary of 400 Swiss francs was spent on laundry services and beer ransoms on the first day of the month. The super social system of one and a half days off a week allowed us plenty of starving days as the staff canteen was out of bounds during that time.
Luckily, Ron the English commis was a guitarist. Many a time, we were in Niederdorf Red Light District where I was standing with an open hat and asking for a few coins while Ron made music. Another commis from Frankfurt took over at night time and he put his "female abilities" into action at the Museum Park. This was the venue for bargains with rich gay people who were famous at Zurich at that time. We gave them such a scare with out loud shouts from behind the bushes where we were hiding and collected the money that was left behind. This being done twice enabled us to some money. Then, the police came to our kitchen and warned us about playing deadly games. In the end, we had no more side income from the Museum Park.
The local Recipe
THE REAL BOUILLABAISSE FROM ZURICH
FRENCH SEAFOOD HOT POT.
GUT AND CLEAN FISH AND OTHER SEAFOOD, THE, POACH IN STOCK MADE FROM FRESH VEGETABLE JULIENNE (CARROTS, CELERY, FENOUILE, ONIONS AND LEEK) AND SAUTE WITH FINELY CHOPPED GARLIC AND SAFFRON IN OLIVE OIL. FLAME WITH PERIOD OR ANY OTHER PASTIS LIQUOR. FILL UP WITH WHITE WINE AND FUME DE POISSON (A SIMPLE CLEAR FISH STOCK). WHEN THE FISH AND SEAFOOD ARE READY, THICKEN STOCK WITH A LITTLE CORN STARCH, THEN SPRINKLE WITH CHOPPED PARSLEY. SERVE THE DISH WITH GARLIC GROUTON, GARLIC BREAD, A PUREE-TYPE SAUCE FROM POTATOES, SAFFRON PLUS ANISE SEED AND FRIED GOLDEN BROWN ONION. IF LOBSTER, CRAB, FISH OR OTHER KINDS OF SHELLFISH ARE USED, PROPER FLAT-WARE AND A SOUP PLATE MUST BE PLACED BESIDE THE SOUP TUREEN.