Restaurant de L’Hotel de Ville – Crissier, Vaud, Switzerland

In the Fabled Footsteps of a Legendary Mentor

There was a time when Frédy Girardet was regarded not only as Switzerland’s chef par excellence, but one of the world’s best – even his Parisian peers reluctantly named him Chef of the Century in 1989. After years of threatening to retire to pursue other interests, the legendary “Pope of Swiss Cuisine” finally shocked the gastronomic world by doing just that in 1996.

The world did not collapse nor stop. In fact, his associate chef and star pro­tégé of seventeen years, Philippe Rochat, orchestrated a seamless transition and con­tinues to serve a full house of Chez Girardet’s loyal patrons, who book two months in advance and drive the 38 miles from Geneva for a weekend table. Rochat eventually changed the name of the gourmet shrine and brought the formality – but not quality – of the service down half a notch.

However, he has kept a number of his mentor’s all-time-favorite signature dishes alive and as exquis­itely executed as in the past. Here in the canton of Vaud, Switzerland’s Francophone heart, Rochat, like Girardet before him, com­fortably balances the French and the German, the high and the low, the folksy and the sub­lime.

This canton is home to the outstanding white wines of the surrounding Lavaux area and the excellent cellar features both these and French wines.

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