Renowned chef Philippe Chevrier’s inside guide to Geneva’s culinary scene

TWISPER ambassador Philippe Chevrier, head chef at Geneva's Michelin-starred restaurant Domaine de Châteauvieux, developed a deep appreciation for food from a young age. He tells us about this love of cooking, and where he goes for an excellent meal out.

Published 9 Aug 2020, 11:03 BST
Situated on the northern side of the Alps and overlooked by this mighty mountain range, Lake Geneva ...

Situated on the northern side of the Alps and overlooked by this mighty mountain range, Lake Geneva straddles both France and Switzerland. 

Photograph by Getty

Encircling its eponymous Alpine lake, the city of Geneva quite literally dazzles. Wherever you go, look one way and you’re almost certain to see this glittering expanse of water; bevies of swans paddling slowly past sailing boats, locals out in kayaks or sitting on its shores admiring the mountains. Combine this with a warm atmosphere, chic boutiques, excellent museums and delectable array of eateries, and it’s little wonder that top chef Philippe Chevrier couldn’t bring himself to leave.

Born and raised in Geneva, Philippe knew he was destined to become a chef from as young as he can remember. By 15, he had already completed a cooking apprenticeship at prestigious restaurant La Chat-Botté; “I washed dishes for three months though. After all, before learning how to get the pots dirty, you need to know how to clean them,” he laughs.

His career has seen him go from strength to strength, from becoming head chef at Domaine de Châteauvieux, a wonderfully old-world restaurant surrounded by vineyards, to earning his first Michelin star at just 31. Philippe now has several restaurants, with another opening this year, and it’s safe to say he’s a master of Swiss cuisine. We talk to him to find out more about his lifelong love affair with food.

Philippe was was born and raised in Geneva, and was heavily influenced by his mother and grandmother, both of whom were excellent cooks. 

Photograph by Marc Ninghetto

Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born and raised in Geneva, and I knew I wanted to be a chef when I was seven years old. I developed a taste for good cooking and fine ingredients from the wonderful cooks in my family — my mother, my grandmother and my aunt. I began my culinary apprenticeship at Geneva’s Beau Rivage hotel when I was 15. At the moment, I’m planning the launch of a new restaurant, Monsieur Bouillon, in the heart of Geneva’s banking district, which is set to open its doors in September 2020. The menu will revolve around two star products: the chicken and the egg, which will be cooked in a variety of ways according to the season. The venue even has a children’s cinema, so parents are able to enjoy the restaurant more.

What is your style of cooking?
I like to cook seasonally and locally. I’ve been working against passing trends for 35 years; for me, my ingredients are the stars of the show and I never compromise on quality.

What is your favourite dish to cook and why?
My favourite ingredient is the black truffle. It’s a gift from the gods! For a main course, for instance, I adore Bresse chicken stuffed with truffle and roasted on a spit and, for dessert, there’s black truffle ice cream.

Philippe Chevrier's favourite ingredient is black truffle, which he loves to add to starters, mains and even desserts.

Photograph by Marc Ninghetto

Many people have turned to cooking during this pandemic. What advice would you give them?
It’s possible to cook wonderful food at home with very few ingredients. The most important thing is your choice of produce. Be it meat, fish or vegetables, it’s vital to focus on quality and to favour locally sourced ingredients that are in season. Once you’ve selected your ingredients, you’ve done 70% of the work. All that remains is to prepare your dish, cooking and seasoning sparingly and with respect. You don’t have to try to transform your ingredients, only to enhance them.

How would you describe the culinary scene in Geneva today?
Geneva is a veritable melting pot. It’s extremely international and has a similar feel to New York, perhaps because both cities are home to the UN. The diverse population makes for interesting cultures and cuisines and there’s a rich restaurant scene to discover.

Where do you go out to eat in Geneva and what do you order?
If I’m not cooking at home, I go to one of my own restaurants, or, as I love to be transported to faraway places, I'll often head to la seiche aux oursins; its sushi is extraordinary. Alternatively, the peking duck from Lóu One, a Chinese restaurant with views looking out across Lake Geneva, is also amazing, as is the Lebanese from Chez Fouad — the chef-owner Fouad Klayani is a good friend of mine. Finally, I often crave the steamed crab and prawn ravioli from Patara, the Beau-Rivage Geneva’s Thai restaurant.

The most important thing for Philippe Chevrier is the produce, be it meat, fish or vegetables. He's a firm believer in locally-sourced ingredients, and only those that are in season.

Photograph by Marc Ninghetto

Talk us through your perfect day in Geneva.
I’d start my day with a jog alongside the lake, then stop for breakfast — bircher muesli and ginger juice — at the Cottage Café, in the heart of Brunswick Park. Then, I’d continue my morning with a spot of window shopping along the Rue du Rhône, which is famous for its prestigious Genevan, Swiss and international boutiques. As a huge watch enthusiast, I’d naturally have to stop at Patek Philippe Salons, as well as Boutique Rolex.

Still on the Rue du Rhône, I’d enjoy lunch with friends at Chez Philippe, a vibrant, trendy restaurant in the city centre. After lunch, I’d head towards the Old Town, stopping en route for coffee and almond pie at Tea Room de la Corraterie de Laurent Exbrayat, before visiting the cathedral and climbing the steps to the top to soak up a fantastic view of the city, the lake and Mont Blanc.

It would then be time to head back down towards the lake for a cruise aboard the belle époque paddle steamboat Le Savoie to the small, medieval village of Yvoire. Finally, I’d end the day with a stroll through the vineyards in the Genevan countryside and enjoy a gourmet dinner beneath the stars at the Domaine de Châteauvieux.

What does the future hold, both for you and for Swiss cuisine?
We’re the land of watchmakers, and our cuisine reflects this culture of minutiae — this keen sense of detail. That won’t change; there’s a certain traditional, conservative side to Switzerland. We’ll maintain our values, which also bear the hallmarks of our neighbours: German rigour, the bon vivant spirit of the French, the Latin epicureanism of Italy. We’re lucky to have a myriad of Swiss farmers, breeders, producers and winegrowers who work incredibly hard every day and are a unique resource for our country and its cuisine.

Essentials

TWISPER is your free social networking mobile app to discover positive recommendations on the best restaurants, hotels and bars to visit around the world. TWISPER promotes positive values, is community-driven and does not sell on user data. Download TWISPER now to plan your next holidays and see great places. 

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