Wednesday, August 9, 2017

With the Head Chef of the 7132 Red Restaurant

The menu of the 7132 Red Restaurant features classic dishes uniquely interpreted. The craftsman behind the interpretations is Head Chef Ulf Bladt. Here he reveals his philosophy, takes us round his kitchen and discusses his ingredients.

We soon spot the phrase Ulf Bladt most likes to use as we accompany him though the Red’s kitchen: “We don’t take run-of-the-mill ingredients, only what’s top quality.” From the meat to the specially selected cocoa powder, it’s no use looking for ordinary products.

He and his team of eighteen adopt a unique approach to classic dishes. It involves far more than a little trial and error during their preparation: with meticulous attention to detail, the nuances of classic dishes are altered and fine-tuned until they’re right. Then the recipe is written down and, from then on, adhered to. “If guests have a favourite dish, it has to taste the same every time.” One of Ulf Bladt's main concerns is maintaining a high standard of quality – no easy task given the turnover of staff in the gastronomy sector. But it's one he's successfully mastered at the 7132 Hotel since 2004. It goes without saying that the menu has changed a number of times since then.

Nowadays there’s an annual menu featuring the classic dishes, accompanied by a seasonal supplement. Alongside salmon, turbot and seabass (obtained fresh from selected suppliers), Ulf Bladt’s team use just three types of meat: veal, beef and poultry. All from the region. The meat is not pre-cut by the supplier, but selected and portioned in the kitchen. It means a saddle of veal can be used in the making of a steak sauté, a paillard, a wienerschnitzel, a cordon bleu or Zürcher Geschnetzeltes. Diners can choose their side dishes, vegetables and sauces.

A glance in the freezer reveals no meat at all – only French fries and potato wedges. Oh, and spinach. “In terms of vegetables alone, we would have to throw away far too much.” And on a tour of the larders, we often hear Ulf Bladt’s phrase: “We prepare our own breadcrumbs in the hotel’s bakery, which we then blend with high-quality panko.” Or: “Our eggs are freshly laid. It’s the only way to obtain a perfectly poached egg.” Back in the kitchen, one of the sous-chefs has a question regarding the right cutter for the grater: the carrots have to be the same size evening after evening.

The kitchen at the Red is not the only place where cooking is undertaken. The seabass is filleted at the table, which is also where the steak Diane, chateaubriand and roast poularde de Bresse are prepared. “It means we have to be on top of our game. But we know what we’re doing.” We ask the Red’s Head Chef for his favourite dish: “Difficult question, hmmm. A seabass in a salt crust is out of this world. But I love anything that’s cooked to perfection.” At this point, we can hardly wait for tonight’s dinner at the Red. Right now, though, it’s early afternoon.

Luckily, there’s always homemade cake available in the lobby at the 7132 Blue Bar – and the 7132 thermal baths are calling.

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