Sebastian Funck & Gino Miodragovic
The kitchen at «Wirtschaft im Franz» is home to two head chefs. Sebastian Funck is the restaurant's co-founder and former Caminada protégé Gino Miodragovic is bringing new impetus to the team and the menu.
«What do you think of the Mangalitza?» - «It's really good. I'd make the jus a little bit less intense so the herb flavour in the chamomile whey sauce comes out a bit more.» - «What about the presentation?» - "I'm still not sure about that, but we can work on it." That's more or less what it sounds like when Sebastian Funck and Gino Miodragovic discuss the finer details of a new dish. The two of them share the role of head chef at «Wirtschaft im Franz» in Zurich. Sebastian is co-owner of the Wiedikon restaurant and has been in the kitchen for eight years, while Gino joined the team last August. "I wanted some new inspiration to move our cuisine forwards. And I wanted a chef who's my equal. Someone who can provide new input and impetus," explains Funck.
Gino Miodragovic fits the bill perfectly. After his apprenticeship, the 31-year-old from Aargau worked with Markus Arnold at «Meridiano» in Bern. Then he signed up with Andreas Caminada's talent factory and went to work at Schloss Schauenstein, going on to open «Igniv» in St. Moritz with Marcel Skibba. From there he moved to the Netherlands to work with Sergio Herman, then returned to Switzerland to the «Bauernschänke» kitchen. Until spring 2021 he was head chef at Nenad Mlinarevic's «Neue Taverne», then over the summer he spent time with his family and trained as a yoga teacher.
Now it's not «om» he's hearing but «mmm». Gino has given «Franz» exactly the new drive it was looking for. The menu is limited, and there's very little meat on it. «Basically I prefer cooking with vegetables, I find it more enjoyable. And it's more of a challenge,» he says. The radish dish is actually vegan, a combination of white and black radish served with garlic mayonnaise and preserved lemon pesto, while another dish features raw and roasted Brussels sprouts with cashew ajo blanco. Gino's attitude to food is perfectly in line with that of Sebastian Funck and the rationale behind the restaurant. From when it first opened eight years ago, the focus has always been on sourcing local, seasonal and sustainable produce.
I've become ever more sceptical about mass production and mass consumption. And I don't believe that's just a current trend, I think it's a natural development.
Funck's supplier network has constantly evolved over the years. As has his personal attitude to meat. «I've become ever more sceptical about mass production and mass consumption. And I don't believe that's just a current trend, I think it's a natural development.» Gino agrees. «It does seem as though the times when people ate huge quantities of meat are now over», he believes. Although the menu isn't entirely vegetarian, the meat that's on it is from really good sources. Like the Mangalitza from Holzen Fleisch, a sustainable butcher in Ennetbürgen, newly featuring on the menu served with savoy cabbage and chamomile whey sauce.
For Gino there's another challenge, too, because the focus on buying local means that at «Franz» he's not allowed to use any Asian products: «That's sometimes hard because with Asian products you can put together a tasty dish really quickly.» So rather than using an ingredient like Katsuobushi – dried, smoked bonito flakes – at «Franz» they'll use smoked trout instead. Having two head chefs is particularly useful when it comes to trying out new things. «Gino is a braver chef than me, he just goes for it», says Sebastian. But not everything works out first time, even for Gino. «Sometimes a dish works well in your head, but isn't so good on the plate». That's when it's good to have a sounding board, they say. But at «Franz» there's no hierarchy. «It's important to move away from that old-fashioned way of thinking. After all, the point of cooking is to get together and have fun.»
Text: Kathia Baltisberger, Photos: Olivia Pulver
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