A pioneer in the commitment to staying local, Stefan Beer takes us to meet his trout producer from Grabenmühle Sigriswil, in the Bernese Oberland.
Quality and sustainability
Today, eating locally is becoming a matter of course and a symbol of quality. The creation of the Michelin Green Stars in 2020 is emblematic of this sustainable trend. Local sourcing is a way to support the unique expertise of a region’s artisans, to perpetuate its own identity, but above all to have access to excellent produce resulting from irreproachable production methods. In Interlaken, Stefan Beer has been engaged since 2018 in an exemplary approach to highlighting the local produce of the Bernese Oberland.
Stefan Beer relies on ingredients “vo hie” (from here) in the restaurant Radius
A native of the region, Stefan Beer spent more than ten years of his career abroad in Hong Kong, Bangkok, Singapore and then Dubai. Back in Switzerland, he rediscovered the treasures of his childhood land with a fresh eye and explains: “For ten years, I had almost no contact with the producers or nature. When I returned, I realized the richness of Switzerland through its produce, simply by walking around the area. This is how the idea of a local menu was born, the “Menü vo hie” (menu from here), which honors regional produce within a 50 km radius.” He admits that the challenge was not a foregone conclusion. He had to do a lot of research with his team to find partner producers and convince them to work with Radius for the long term. The cuisine then had to adapt to the constraints of the seasons and the vagaries of production. “We’ve had to remind our customers that there’s no asparagus yet in February. But they love to be told the story of each item of produce; it’ s a process that makes sense. They don’t come here to eat foie gras or lobster, but we do have an excellent producer of Oona caviar from Tropenhaus Frutigen in our Swiss Alps…”
Grabenmühle, diving through water and history
Trout fishing is a longstanding tradition in the mountain rivers of the Bernese Oberland. For his supply of fresh fish, Stefan Beer has chosen to work with a local legend, Andreas Von Gunten. The Von Gunten family has been living in Sigriswil for almost 70 years and has several ponds for breeding and fishing. The Grabenmühle is located in an idyllic spot in the middle of the woods. And a river runs through it… The origins of the place go back to the 11th century when the wheat flour mill started its activity. Andreas’ parents bought the Grabenmühle in 1954 and turned it into a farm. In the early 1980s, he and his wife renovated the mill wheel and began to breed trout, which they sold to nearby restaurants and markets. Today, Andreas Von Gunten is passing on his know-how to his daughter and to a couple interested in continuing his demanding breeding techniques.
The prime Grabenmühle trout
Why are the brook trout, rainbow trout, arctic char and salmon from Grabenmühle so exceptional? “The river comes directly from the mountains, passes through the mill and then flows into Lake Thun. The water in the river is really cold, which makes the fish grow extremely slowly and gives them perfectly textured flesh with a unique flavor”, says Stefan Beer, “a quality so rare that it must be left as raw as possible. These lightly cooked fish are simply incredible from a taste standpoint. They bring back childhood memories and the freshness of forgotten sensations to the people here.”
Memory of taste
Today, the “Menü vo hie” is a real success because the cuisine tells a real story, which goes much further than simply tasting a good dish. “I want to create unforgettable memories for our guests, by offering these exceptional products the preparation that makes them sublime”, explains Stefan Beer. “It is a constant challenge for us to visualize a cuisine that both respects produce and enhances it.” A tribute to the traditions and skills of this region that delights visitors from around the world.