"It isn't hard to explain why she is receiving this year's MICHELIN Guide Service Award. She is quite simply a natural hostess," said Gwendal Poullennec, the MICHELIN Guide's International Director, in praise of Ruth Wiget from the MICHELIN two-star restaurant Adelboden in Steinen-Schwyz, when he presented her with the Pernod Ricard Swiss sponsored MICHELIN Service Award 2020 at the LAC Arte e Cultura in Lugano. The immense joy on the Swiss restaurateur's face was plain to see as she laughed into the microphone and expressed her thanks.
"This award recognises the importance of service"
Ruth Wiget, rightly described by Poullennec as charismatic, has one thing close to her heart: "It's always, 'oh, great chef,' but the service is usually not accorded such importance, so I was all the more pleased that the MICHELIN Guide recognised it with an award. It elevates the importance of service and sends a signal to young people. I would be delighted if more young people learned this profession again." She proudly adds: "The MICHELIN Guide is a first-class guide, so I think it's all the better that it is the one paying tribute to service."
Picturesque blend of modern and traditional Swiss
Widget admits she was surprised, because "we have a very small restaurant with only 20 covers, so it's a doubly great joy and honour!" Since 1988, she and her husband Franz have run the picturesquely located Adelboden. For the Michelin inspectors, "the 1733 farmhouse is like something out of a film set – Adelboden, at around 800 metres' altitude, evokes such associations". "Ruth and Franz Wiget offer a wonderful mix of modernity and Central Swiss tradition."
Vernacular as a "secret recipe"
Ruth Wiget smiles broadly as she stresses that for her it is essential that her guests feel completely comfortable. The warm "Grüezi" with which each guest is welcomed is typically Swiss. This, the hostess reveals in local dialect, is part of her 'secret recipe': "Our international guests, too, expect this; after all they are in Switzerland and they want to enjoy it. Our place is an old Schwyz house, so I have to be authentic. The award stands on the dark green tiled stove in the restaurant. That's authentic, too!"
When asked about Swiss tradition, she reflects for a second then explains confidently: "You know, we Swiss are friendly, but always with a little reserve. Southern Europeans say that we are proud, but we Swiss are simply not brash; we don't greet exuberantly, but with a cordial 'Grüezi'."
Hand in hand and a "Grüezi" from the heart
You can tell it comes from the heart. This also encompasses working seamlessly with her husband: "I'm happy when we have shopped well. When he says we have really good sole or pike perch, I tell the guests, then it's true. It's absolutely "hand in hand". I think guests notice that my husband and I are really in it together. Service and cuisine must work in tandem, otherwise there is no whole."
Like being a guest at a friend's
The award description notes that, "after a short time you are no longer quite sure whether you are having dinner at a restaurant or at a friend's house." When asked about this, Wiget laughs heartily and says, "I think there is no greater compliment!"
Talking with her, you find yourself wanting to be her guest. The same goes for her regular patrons, some of whom have been coming for 20 years. There's that warm, open laugh again: "It's not just a job. For us, catering is life. I love my job more than anything; I really love doing it. I love people, my husband so enjoys cooking! We both put our hearts into it!"
The MICHELIN Guide Switzerland 2020 is available for 39 Swiss Francs (29.95 Euros in Germany and 30.80 Euros in Austria). In the latest edition, a total of 632 restaurants, ranging from country inns to gourmet restaurants, and 215 hotels are recommended.
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