Michael Dober

Michael Dober

In harmony with nature

«Rosa Pulver» is one of the hottest venues in Winterthur. Chef Michael Dober uses local ingredients, working in close collaboration with his producers.

Michael Dober is standing in the kitchen of «Rosa Pulver» in Winterthur, plating up the new autumn dessert – a Bavarian crème made from toasted yeast accompanied by quince and white chocolate ice cream. Every so often, Dober nibbles on a dried quince slice intended for the topping. «It's important to sample new dishes before you send them out», says Dober jokingly. The 32-year-old from St. Gallen is one of the best chefs in the city on the river Eulach. «Rosa Pulver» started life as an interim project on the Kasernenareal. Dober and his team settled in the heart of the old town a few years ago.

Of course, the chef with 14 Gault Millau points to his name doesn't wait until a dish is ready to be served before tasting it. However, sampling is not the first step when creating new menus. «We switch up the menu every seven weeks or so. When I have a new idea, I first play around with it at home. In theory, I always like to have new dishes on paper first – only then do I try them out.» Once he has a rough outline for the menu, the team tests it out and fine tunes it. At «Rosa Pulver», it's a team effort.

From confectioner to chef

As a child, no one would have guessed that Michael Dober would one day work as a chef in a Gault Millau-rated restaurant. His family runs a patisserie in Flawil, Canton St. Gallen, and he grew up surrounded by éclairs, profiteroles and Stollen – every child's dream. «It didn't feel like that at the time. It was just how things were. And we had to help out from an early age. My parents' business showed me that you can achieve a lot through hard work and diligence», says Dober. He wasn't averse to sweet treats, however. «My favourites were the St. Honoré cake, ice cream cakes and frozen orange dessert.» With all this inspiration right under his nose, Michael Dober decided to train as a confectioner. «I also did a brief trial as a chef. But I was still such a youngster and I was overwhelmed by the atmosphere of a working kitchen. I felt much more at home in the bakery.»

Nevertheless, he couldn't shake off the idea of training as a chef. It wasn't that he didn't enjoy working as a confectioner. But, «I think I just wasn't talented enough. Precise, delicate work wasn't really my thing», he recalls. After training as a chef, he was hired by Ivo Adam at «Seven» in Ascona and later moved to Zermatt to work at «After Seven». He went on to do a stint at «Lampart's» in Hägendorf, followed by «Maison Manesse» in Zurich and then a placement in «Maaemo» in Oslo. «I'm someone who doesn't like to focus on the negatives. As a result, I took something with me from everywhere I worked. At Seven I immersed myself in the world of fine dining, while at Lampart's everything was structured and strict, but I learnt a lot in terms of organization. At Maison Manesse, I experienced creative cooking and learnt how to play with different textures and flavours.» Dober's first job as a chef was at «Fritz Lambada» where he took over from his former boss Simon Schneeberger.

I think I just wasn't talented enough. Precise, delicate work wasn't really my thing

Michael Dober

Putting the idea of «»nose-to-tail«» into practice

These days, Dober has his own style of cuisine and management. The «what» is more important to him than the «how». At «Rosa Pulver», he serves predominantly organic or Demeter products. He is passionate about his collaboration with producers from the Rheinau estate and BungertHof farm. «During my civilian service, I worked on the farm for 40 days. This was just as valuable to me as a placement at a renowned restaurant.» Even today, the Rosa Pulver team goes to BungertHof in Berg am Irchel once a week to pick seasonal produce.

Very little meat is served at «Rosa Pulver». And when it is, then «nose-to-tail» is certainly no marketing ploy. The proof can be seen on every one of Dober's menus. «Before serving the actual courses, we always offer a small snack which uses up offcuts and leftovers», explains Dober. The beef tartare with confit egg yolk is preceded by an egg white omelette with mushrooms and carpaccio. And at «Rosa Pulver», you'll also regularly find special animals such as ibex, wild boar and catfish on the menu. «Catfish is a truly delicious fish but no one wants to eat it. It's incredibly ugly and usually very big.» As a main course, Dober serves the catfish in quenelle form, accompanied by squash with fermented squash hollandaise. The snack served prior to this course is a catfish finger.

Text: Kathia Baltisberger, Photos: Olivia Pulver, Date: 16.10.2023

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