Beni Landolt satisfies his wanderlust at the «Kin»
Authentic Asian dishes, made with Swiss produce. This is the concept that Beni Landolt successfully puts into action at the «Kin» in Zurich. He has learned his craft all over the world, from Brazil to New Zealand.
The place looks unassuming. Directly in front of the «Kin» runs the busy Seebahnstrasse, and the city's glass recycling banks adorn the stark urban landscape. But the surroundings are deceptive. Beni Landolt recently earned 14 Gault-Millau points with his cuisine. He serves Asian dishes but uses largely regional products for them. Landolt describes his style as modern Asian fusion cuisine. «I don't cook European dishes with Asian flavours. I do it the other way round. The dishes are original, but made with local produce.» The miso salmon has been on the menu since the beginning. The perfectly cooked fish comes from Lostallo in the canton of Graubünden. The tatsoi – a relative of pak choi – is from Slow Grow.
Beni Landolt was not born with a love of food. The Thurgau native does not come from a gastronomic family, and even his choice to train as a chef was based on rational rather than emotional reasons. What drove him was the opportunity to cook anywhere in the world. And that is what he did. He has been to France, New Zealand and Singapore. It was hard everywhere, but Landolt has always liked the kitchen vibes. In France, he learned how to cut live lobsters in half, prepare frogs' legs and open oysters. «After a week, my hands were all sore.»
At the «Kin», it's not oysters but deep-fried veal sweetbread with gochujang cream, pickled pumpkin and coriander. Beni Landolt treats all products with the utmost respect. «A carrot has been sown, tended, harvested and washed by someone. If I mess up, that groundwork was for nothing.» Landolt had to learn this attitude the hard way. In Singapore, Landolt cooked at the Joel Robuchon restaurant with Tomonori Danzaki. «That's where I learned the most. It was like being in the army. As a cook, you learn a way to chop parsley, for example. And then you learn the Robuchon way.» The Robuchon method does not involve chopping, but carefully laying the smooth parsley leaves on top of each other, then slicing them finely. First lengthwise, then crosswise. «I always had a ruler in my pocket, because everything was measured very precisely.»
Actually, I wanted to do something bigger. But I supported the team in setting up the kitchen and helped with the opening.
In between, Landolt also cooked in Switzerland: at Schadau Castle in Thun, at the Hotel Belvoir in Rüschlikon or with Jacky Donatz at the «Sonnenberg». But the longing for distant lands never went away. He travelled to São Paulo, where he first cooked at the «D.O.M». Then he learned the basics of preparing raw fish with sushi master Tadashi Shiraishi.
Back in Switzerland, the opportunity to cook at the «Kin» opened up for him. Siblings Rico Jauch and Nina Ehrler took over the restaurant at Lochergut. «Actually, I wanted to do something bigger. But I supported the team in setting up the kitchen and helped with the opening.» That was just under six years ago. Landolt hasn't moved on since. «I stayed because it was fun.» The Asian style suits him. And he always sticks to one rule: «I don't mix flavours and dishes from different countries. For example, I don't serve XO sauce from Hong Kong with tempura from Japan. It just doesn't make sense to me.» The parsnip strips deep-fried in batter are therefore served with a vegan miso mayo at the «Kin».
Beni Landolt has stayed in Zurich. The dream of far-flung places, of foreign cultures and new dishes, has stayed with him. «I have a daughter now. So travelling is not as easy as it used to be.» But Beni Landolt satisfies his wanderlust – and that of the guests – at the «Kin». The yuzu mushroom salad comes with red and yellow chicory, marinated mushrooms (oyster and king oyster mushrooms), a vegan herb cream and a yuzu dressing. The chef, who is shy but light-hearted, says confidently about his dishes: «I have found my signature style.»
Text: Kathia Baltisberger, Photos: Olivia Pulver, Date: 10.01.2023
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