Chef Series Portrait: Peter Knogl, 3 Michelin star Chef

Is it a pure coincidence or faith that I keep “running” into the most preeminent and talented chefs? If I may be totally honest, although I am a self-proclaimed food enthusiast, I never expected the food world to take such centre stage in my blog. I love it and cannot wait for more encounters, interviews and discoveries. That’s the beauty of discovering – you just never know where you are being led or why.

And thanks to Oettinger Davidoffts first ever international ‘Tour Gastronomique” at the Grand Resort Bad Ragaz I got to meet not one but two prodigious Chefs, Renato Wüst and Peter Knogl!

Who is Peter Knogl?

Peter Knogl is the Chef de cuisine at Cheval Blanc at the famous Basel hotel Les Trois Rois. He has earned, thanks to his undeniably exquisite creations but also thanks to his faithful and talented team, a place among the 100 best restaurants in the world. In Switzerland, he is one of three chefs holding three Michelin stars!

Renato Wüst and Peter Knogl
www.srf.ch
Photography @www.srf.ch
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Photography @swiss-historic-hotels.ch

Meeting the Chef

I have to admit that at first Peter seemed a bit reserved and maybe a little cautious. The first few minutes of our chat felt somewhat contrived but to my relief he warmed up and showed a side of him that was much more relaxed and easy going, but still a man of a few words!

Earning Michelin stars (not 1 but 3) is not to be taken lightly. It’s the direct outcome of hard work, dedication and vision that very few in the culinary world get awarded with and it takes a certain personality to get there.

Our interview

When did you know you wanted to become a cook?

It started a very long time ago when I was a little kid at my grand-parents restaurant in Bavaria. I used to go in the kitchen to taste the dishes and I loved it. My mom also used to be a very good cook whom I watched all the time. So this is when it all started!

What is your favorite dish?

I like everything but mostly I love fish.

What is your most known dish?

It’s crab meat with apple and foie gras.

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Peter Knogl @Cheval Blanc in Basel

How about at home? Do you cook?

At home I don’t cook, my girlfriend is in charge of the kitchen! She’s the boss 🙂

Are you picky? I’m sure people get nervous when they invite you over!

I’m not picky at all, I eat everything. I can imagine people being nervous but they shouldn’t because I’m very easy and I don’t eat complicated foods.

What is your favorite cuisine?
Definitely Asian.

Where do you find your inspiration?

When I travel or visit different restaurants but unfortunately I don’t have much time for discoveries since I work alot. We need to improve and innovate all the time. Every year we create three to four new dishes but it’s not easy. Sometimes he takes six months to create a new dish!

What kind of boss are you?
I’m very strict but we work in a family atmosphere. It’s important that everyone works hard but is also happy while doing it. This is not a job for the faint at heart. It takes tremendous strength and compromising. Not much time is left for personal life which is why it is so important that everyone feels at home when in the kitchen.

How do you handle mistakes?
We always learn from our mistakes and from the critics. I don’t get very mad when the employees make mistakes… just a little!

What was the highest point of your carrier and your lowest point?
My highest point was when I got my Michelin star last year! My lowest point was 20 years ago went I went to a new restaurant and it did not work out. I had to start again and look for a new restaurant. It felt like a failure.

Do you smoke cigars?
Sometimes But not always.

In the context of this gourmet tour how do you connect food with cigars?
I believe that good food and good cigars go very well together, they both share the same philosophy and same process – good ingredients and products.

Is Davidoff your favorite brand? Why?
Good product, great taste, and  the factory is based out of Basel! I personally prefer Davidoff to even Cuban cigars because not only it tastes better but it is also more fine.

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What advice would you give a young person who wants to follow in your footsteps?
Be patient, give time time and be persistent. This work takes a long time end it will be subject to a lot of ups and downs. But you always learn from the downs. Just know that your entire life there will be downs, but downs bring faith and confidence.

If you could go back in time would you change anything?
Nothing at all! I’m happy!

Is it hard to remain on top once you have gotten 3 Michelin stars?
A lot of hard work. Stay true to your values and style but always seek progress and improvement.

How many hours do you work per day?
14 hours every day!

Do you ever consider retiring?
Yes sometimes when I get really tired! But I think I still have many years ahead of me. But when I’m really tired then I will stop.

Any favorite restaurants?
I don’t have time to go out in Basel  or anywhere else in Switzerland because I work too much but my favorite restaurant is in Barcelona.  It’s called La sarte2 Michelin stars and best kitchen in Barcelona!

 

Featured image by Casa de Campo Living

 

 
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