Niklas Schneider

Niklas Schneider

Always reaching for the next goal

Niklas Schneider started his own business at a mere 25 years of age. Today, he cooks ambitious yet no-frills cuisine at the «Paradies» in Baden. The chef has no intention of resting on his laurels. On the contrary, he constantly strives for more.

His goals are clear: best bar in Switzerland. One Michelin star. 16 GaultMillau points. This is written in black and white on a page of A4 that is clearly visible in the kitchen of the Paradies restaurant in Baden. Niklas Schneider has defined the goals for himself and his team. «It's not so important to me that we achieve these targets,» says Schneider. He is concerned about something else. «»I think you need goals in life. Just living for the day is not my thing. When we aim high, we reveal our desires. We show that we are ambitious and know where we're going.» This attitude creates a completely different atmosphere in the team. Niklas Schneider is someone who addresses issues and brings things to life. Better today than tomorrow. «But I'm not dogged. If we get a Michelin star or 16 GaultMillau points, that will be an incredible honour. But if not, that's also ok. I'm very happy with 15 points.»

Niklas Schneider and his team have been cooking at the Zunfthaus since September 2022. His cuisine is accessible, but not boring, simple, but not artless, and it’s always prepared with regional products wherever possible. The 28-year-old stands in the kitchen on the first floor, plucking flower petals and arranging them on a new dish for the spring menu. A crispy tartlet filled with Natura Beef tartare from Hottwil AG served with fermented garlic cream and flambéed morels and topped with fresh peas. «I get bored quickly. That's why I change the menu every month.» Schneider serves a 7-course meal at the Paradies. At lunchtime there are simpler dishes and every Thursday evening Schneider serves miso ramen in the bar on the ground floor.

Cook, bartender, host

You could say the Zurich native was born with a flair for gastronomy. Niklas' father is a trained chef and his mother is a service specialist. He was therefore exposed to restaurant life from an early age. «My mum worked at the Löwen in Dielsdorf and sometimes took me to work with her,» says Schneider. It quickly became clear that Niklas wanted to do an apprenticeship as a chef. And he soon decided where. «I trained at the Löwen Dielsdorf too. That was a great time,» the chef recalls. «I constantly talked to my father about how to do things. Back then, he always wanted to be right. Today, he accepts when I tell him that it's no longer done that way.»

Schneider fancied being his own boss very early on. «I actually wanted to start my own business straight after my apprenticeship. Luckily, my father talked me out of it,» says Schneider and laughs. After his apprenticeship, he worked at The Chedi in Andermatt, the Krone in Regensberg and the Steinhalle in Bern. The enterprising chef also trained as a bartender in Barcelona and completed an internship in hospitality customer service at the Löwen in Dielsdorf. Where else? When the bar in the Paradies needs help, Niklas jumps in to mix cocktails, ideally different Negroni variations.

A Turk would probably not approve of my version. But that's exactly why I started my own business. So that I can do what I want!

Niklas Schneider

You can eat kebabs with your hands

At just 25 years of age, he started working for himself. Not on his own, however. With his business partner, Samuel Hauser. «He was the main reason I did this so early on. Although he is originally a chef too, his expertise is mainly in administrative matters.» Although Schneider and Hauser both come from Wehntal in the canton of Zurich, Schneider suggested that their restaurant be located in Baden. «There is nothing like our concept here.» Initially, they were catering in the «Grosser Alexander» restaurant. A good year later, they were able to lease the Paradies in Baden. «We wanted a cool bar on the ground floor and home-style cooking in the restaurant upstairs,» says Schneider. But the plan didn't work out, the cuisine didn't meet with the hoped-for success. «In the end, we decided to move the concept from Grosser Alexander to here.»

Now things are going according to plan. The Paradies is a hit with the guests. «Of course, there are still people who miss the white tablecloths. Or who eat our kebabs with a knife and fork, despite our insistence that you can eat them with your hands. We also had a bad Google review because there is no car park. In the middle of the old town centre, where driving is banned,» says Schneider. «I used to take things like that to heart, but now I can laugh about it.» The kebab has become a signature dish that keeps reappearing on the menu. The «Weggli», a typical Swiss milk bread roll, is currently filled with pork belly, miso mayo and homemade kimchi and topped with popped pork skin and spring onions. «A Turk would probably not approve of my version. But that's exactly why I started my own business. So that I can do what I want!»

Text: Kathia Baltisberger, Photos: Olivia Pulver, Date: 16.04.2024

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