David Wälti: “A Huge Part of my Inspiration Comes from my Grandmother”
Having realised his vocation at an early age David Wälti has already racked up an impressive 12 years of professional cooking, both at home in Switzerland and abroad.
The sous chef from Michelin starred “Eisblume” in Worb will now face one of the biggest challenges of his aspiring career: representing Switzerland in the biggest talent search for the world’s best young chef.
We caught up with the young chef as he prepares for his big moment in the 2018 Grand Finale, when he will present his signature dish of "head to tail from Swiss mountain salmon trout with vegetables" to a world class panel of chefs.
1. Please describe your signature dish, and explain why you choose this dish over any other?
At first glance it looks and sounds very simple. But there is a lot of work in it. I took the highest quality salmon-trout from our neighbouring village, prepared them carefully, took some seasonal veggies from our local farmer and prepared them at different temperatures into different textures, I also brewed a special veggie tea which brings everything together. It is complexity and simplicity at the same time in one dish with two plates.
The reason why I choose this dish is because it reflects my daily work and my way of thinking while cooking.
David Wälti signature dish
2. What made you become a chef?
At 14 years old I started a weekly job in kitchen alongside school just to top up my pocket money. I liked it so much that I made the decision at age 15, to start studying as a chef.
3. Who has influenced you in your career?
A huge part of my inspiration comes from my grandmother.
I grew up with a closed cycle of nature, this still influences me today.There were many great chefs who taught me some skills, I learned something from every single person. At least, I also learned a lot while traveling all over the world.
4. Where do you see yourself in 5/10 years’ time?
Working as a head chef in a high-end restaurant.
5. How are you/will you collaborate with your mentor, Andre Jaeger, in order to perfect your dish for the Grand Finale?
We will start to meet each other in January and discuss options for improving my signature dish. We will figure out how we can optimize this dish.
6. What is the most exciting/challenging element of the S.Pellegrino Young Chef competition for you?
The most challenging element for me was and will be the presentation. To present and explain exactly the idea which is in my mind with all these connections, it’s pretty hard.
7. Why do you think you can win the S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2018 title?
I am not thinking about winning or not, I will just give it 110% and after all we will see which place I will reach.
8. If you weren’t a chef what would you be?
A boring person with a 9 to 5 job.
9. What’s your most memorable food experience?
There are actually a couple. One of my most memorable experience was the perfection and simplicity of Japanese food culture. Absolutely impressive!
10. What do you like to do in your free time?
Travelling, cooking and foresting.