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“I want to know where my products come from”
Long transport routes and exotic products from abroad? Not for Patrick Germann at the “Bären” in Schwarzenburg, Canton Berne. The 30-year-old uses what the region has to offer and sources his products from producers in the village.
Lush meadows, blossoming trees, birdsong – the municipality of Schwarzenburg in the canton of Berne has something else idyllic. The Bären restaurant in the centre of the village. Sounds like a traditional pub, but that’s only true to a certain extent. Patrick Germann, 30, is the chef of the “Bären”. He has been managing the restaurant together with his girlfriend Franziska Ilg, 31, for almost ten months. The concept? There are three restaurants in one: a cosy GastStube – or pub –, the fine GnussStube and the MundArt, a gourmet restaurant with 14 points. “I always dreamed of having my own restaurant”, explains Patrick Germann, who was most recently to be found at the “Villa Lindenegg” in Biel/Bienne.
One kitchen, three menus. “I’m certainly not making my life any easier”, he admits. But the idea behind it makes sense. A purely gourmet establishment wouldn't work in a rural area. “We live from the people who keep coming back.” Germann and Ilg want to be approachable for the people in the village. The gourmet menu is therefore only available if pre-ordered. That’s doubly clever: “It allows me to prepare everything properly and make sure that it’s the right quality. And I only buy what I actually need, which also means I don’t have the whole issue of waste.”
The “Bären” opens at 8.30 in the morning for coffee and croissants. Or rather nut-filled croissants. Made by the chef himself, who is also a qualified confectioner. Just like the cakes in the afternoon. “Sweetness has always fascinated me. I like delicate things. And most chefs are not so strong in this area and have their own pâtissier”, says Germann. However, the chef not only scores highly in freestyle, but also for the compulsory element: To accompany his veal liver pralines, Germann serves an apple sorbet, apple rings, dark chocolate and fleur de sel. For the main course, there is a trio of veal: Veal flank roulade, grilled veal tenderloin and braised hock parcels.
I keep in very close contact with my suppliers, as I want to know where my products come from.
He uses regional produce. “I keep in very close contact with my suppliers, as I want to know where my products come from.” For example, he sources his veal from a farmer who actually manages a dairy farm. Patrick Germann was put in touch with the Riesen family through the village butcher where he buys his other meat. Now, when the Riesens have a calf for slaughter, they ask Germann whether he wants it.
He then buys the whole animal and uses every part systematically. This regional thinking also extends to drinks: The seasonal beer in the “Bären” is supplied by a microbrewery where Germann’s brother and father brew speciality beers. Although wine was a bit more tricky. “We wanted more variety and therefore visited a number of vintners. This also allows us to tell our guests something about the wine. But our guests were always very set on the Vaud area. Meanwhile, however, they are very open to new things and appreciate the diversity. In the countryside everything’s a bit more leisurely. Regionality, nose to tail or special wines – Patrick Germann sees himself as a pioneer. So he’s not looking wistfully towards Berne or Zurich, where there’s currently a lot happening in the culinary world. “All these trends have already reached the cities. Here we can still have an impact.”
Text: Kathia Baltisberger, Photos: Joseph Khakshouri
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