Switzerland’s hottest young chef, Ivo Adam, is anything but conventional.This content was published on March 25, 2004 - 10:06
The brash newcomer raps while he woks, mixing beats with flavours as he serves up dishes to make the taste buds dance.
“I’m a walking food laboratory,” says Adam with a boyish grin, as he twirls a pepper mill in the air and raps out a spaghetti recipe in three and a half minutes - the time it takes for him to whip up the funky pasta dish (see video).
The 26-year-old can not only talk the talk, he can truly walk the walk: he has won numerous awards and was the youngest member of the Swiss team that captured gold at the last World Culinary Grand Prix.
He has even released a rap cookbook on CD (in Swiss-German) featuring his kitchen compositions, which comes cased in a pizza box.
It begins with a hectic number, “Kitchen Heat”, moves on to “Pasta all'Ivo” and even includes a “Battle at the Buffet”.
swissinfo caught up with Adam in the mountain resort of Saas Fee, where he is making a guest appearance at the five-star Ferienart hotel and trying out the unexpected.
“I always keep my eyes open for new ideas, so why not serve fish with Ricola [a Swiss brand of lozenge] sauce or put chocolate on meat,” he says.
“We Swiss are usually very conservative and not willing to try different things so I want people to say after a meal ‘hey, I didn’t expect that’,” he continues.
For starters, Adam dishes up a refreshing bowl of Birchermuesli, the traditional Swiss breakfast dish of oats mixed with fruit, nuts, milk and yoghurt.
There is nothing fancy about his version of Birchermuesli but he says it is an excellent example of nutritional basics.
“You have to understand what your body needs and Bircher muesli is wonderful because you can present all the important food groups in a single cup.”
“After you have mastered that,” he tells us, “you can move on to Château Briand with chocolate sauce!”
Adam, who clearly has a flair for marketing, then proceeds to shred a few triangles of Toblerone chocolate into a savoury sauce.
“I used to make birthday cakes for my friends when I was seven or eight years old,” he recalls. “I realised then that cooking could be creative and you could add nuts or anything you wanted.”
As the aroma of the lightly fried beef filet reaches our nostrils, Adam spins around in mid-rap and catches us grinning in anticipation.
“You must be looking forward to trying it,” he says as he lays the filet on a thin bed of vegetables, pours on a touch of sauce and tops it with crisp glass noodles - for appearance and the “crunch effect”.
After we dig in, Adam asks if he can have a bite, since he is as curious as we are. He says he rarely makes a dish the same way twice.
When the ski season comes to an end, the young chef will leave Saas Fee and take his “walking food laboratory” on the road.
He has been commissioned to spend a few months visiting Swiss schools to teach kids his tasty creations and rap out the message that nutritious food does not have to be bland or boring.
He will then open his own restaurant near the town of Olten (“to be built by a star architect”) where he will lead “a team of young, hungry cooks” like himself.
“We will revolutionise Swiss gastronomy,” he promises.
swissinfo, Dale Bechtel in Saas Fee
Ivo Adam was the youngest member of the Swiss team, which won gold at the 2002 World cooking championships in Singapore.
He was also crowned best pastry chef at the competition and last year won the Swiss tourism industry’s Milestone prize as the best young talent.
Adam has released a CD of recipes and nutritional tips, called “Räpzept” (Rap-cipe).
He is currently cooking at the five-star Ferienart hotel in the canton Valais ski resort of Saas Fee.
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