Tobias Hoesli
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Tobias Hoesli

Vegan cuisine with 15 GaultMillau points.

The 30-year-old chef at "Marktküche" in Zurich is the first to be awarded GaultMillau points for a vegan restaurant. It was clear from a very young age that Tobias Hoesli would grow up to be a chef.

A picture of a young boy dressed in a classic waistcoat and chef's hat hangs on the wall of the Marktküche restaurant in Zurich. "When we would go out for a meal with the family, I would always ask if I could go in the kitchen", reminisces Tobias. The kitchen staff once let the boy try on the chef's hat. Hoesli has always had a fascination with cooking, even though he didn't come from a family of chefs.

He took over the former pizzeria in district 4 six years ago. Hoesli decided to give up meat during his apprenticeship. After a while, he became vegan. His restaurant also avoids all animal products. However, he chose not to use the "V word" in his marketing.

I didn't want to attract just vegans". My goal was always to offer great, product-oriented cuisine that appeals to everyone – and happens not to include animal products.

Tobias Hoesli

Some advised the young chef not to go down such an extreme route and instead settle for vegetarian cuisine. "But I didn't want to dilute the concept", Hoesli says and went ahead with the project. And it's paid off! "Marktküche" entered the rankings four years ago with 13 GaultMillau points. Over time, this became 14 points and has just recently increased to 15 GaultMillau points.

The chef is delighted with the accolade, however it wasn't exactly planned. Hoesli had always worked in the kitchens of great restaurants, but never at an award-winning level. He got his first taste of fine dining while working in Vienna – at the time he was not employed in the kitchen but rather as a chef de service.

Hoesli describes his first dishes as "improved bistro cuisine". His cooking has evolved over time. He taught himself new skills. Another chef gives the talented chef the opportunity to cook more elaborate dishes. This vegan chef now has a vast network of producers at his fingertips.

Hoesli serves up braised leek with sautéed mushrooms and a dashi. The Japanese fish stock has to be made without fish. Nevertheless, it still packs a punch. The secret? "I use high-quality products and don't scrimp on the amount", explains Hoesli. And of course, a vegetable stock such as this takes time.

Other tips for creating more flavour – when you can't rely on all-purpose products such as butter – include fermented garlic or juicing vegetables and then fermenting the juice.

The challenge is to create suspense throughout the entire menu. The dishes need depth. No two courses should taste the same.

Tobias Hoesli

Creating individual vegan dishes is not particularly difficult. When you cook vegan, a little more thought tends to go into a dish. "I can't simply buy an amazing langoustine and showcase it." To go with artichoke, there's a blackberry sphere (jelly-like ball with a liquid centre) and cream cheese made from fermented soya cream.

This cream is one of the few alternative products that Hoesli uses in his recipes. "Even a product such as this has to meet my requirements in terms of origin. And, of course, the flavour has to be right."

Tobias doesn't want to create alternative vegan desserts by hook or by crook, either. For this reason, he avoids products such as meringue and zabaglione. "Both are made primarily from egg. I don't want to play around. And I refuse to compromise on flavour." Chocolate mousse and raspberry sorbet work wonderfully as vegan options. Tobias serves them with a little raspberry caviar, caramelized fennel and citrus dust. Meat substitute products have no place on Tobias' menu.

"I didn't want them from the start. You can create a perfectly good vegetable-based dish without having to imitate meat." All too often it's embedded in people's consciousness that a proper gourmet meal requires a piece of meat. In fact, Hoesli's dishes prove that the opposite is true.

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