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Young chef finds the recipe to reach the top

The influential Gault Millau restaurant guide has named Andreas Caminada, who works at the Schloss Schauenstein hotel restaurant in Fürstenau, Swiss "chef of the year".

Aged 30 and hailing from canton Grabünden, Caminada is the youngest person to have been awarded the title by the food-lovers guide.

In its Swiss edition for 2008 presented on Monday, Gault Millau gave Caminada 18 out of a possible 20 points for his cuisine at the castle restaurant, which seats just 24 guests.

The editor-in-chief of the Swiss edition, Urs Heller, described Caminada as "young but not wild... In the end the guest sits marvelling in front of a harmonious work of art".

Caminada has shot to the top of his profession very quickly and was named "discovery of the year" when he was first awarded 15 points in the 2005 edition.

He was earned one more point a year later and took his total to 17 in the 2007 edition, in which he was named "upcomer of the year".

Caminada and his partner Sieglinde Zottmaier have been running the restaurant at the castle, which dates back to the 13th century, for the past four years.

Distinction

The number of chefs in Switzerland whose creations received the distinction of 19 points has gone down from eight to seven, as a result of one establishment closing its doors on the chef's retirement.

Five of them are from the French-language region of Switzerland – Philippe Chevrier (Satigny), Gérard Rabaey (Brent), Philippe Rochat (Crissier), Bernard Ravet (Vufflens-le-Château) and Didier de Courten (Sierre).

In the German-speaking part of the country, the cuisine of Horst Petermann in Küsnacht and André Jaeger in Schaffhausen remain among the top cooks.

Gault Millau describes the seven chefs as "exceptional".

Ten new chefs have joined the group of those with 17 points or more.

The 2008 Gault Millau guide features 794 establishments. Ninety chefs gained one or more points over the 2007 edition, while 49 lost one.

Consider the cities

On the eve of the guide's presentation, which was made at the Schloss Schauenstein, editor-in-chief Heller was tight-lipped about this year's winner but he recommended gourmets that they should also consider Zurich or Bern.

"There is some really good cooking go on again in the cities," he told the SonntagsZeitung newspaper.

The newspaper made the point that a few years ago connoisseurs of good food had to travel a fair distance by car or train to reach the best restaurants with 17 points or more. Now a bus or tram ride will do, it noted.

One chef commented that there were more top chefs in Swiss cities now, which was an advantage for urban gourmets.

But he added that the days when people travelled to the country to eat fine cuisine at lunchtime seemed to be over, the main reason being stricter alcohol limits in Switzerland for car drivers.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

The Gault Millau guide is named after its original authors Henri Gault and Christian Millau, two renowned gastronomy critics. Along with the Michelin guide, it is the most influential French gastronomic publication.

The Gault Millau awards chef's hats, which with the Michelin stars are the highest distinction of French haute cuisine.

The maximum number of chef's hats awarded by Gault Millau is four. Restaurants can be awarded one to 20 points. The maximum of 20 has never been awarded. The fourth chef's hat is given once 19 points are reached.

Although having its roots in France, the Gault Millau guide is also produced locally in Switzerland, Germany and Austria.

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