A 30-year-old Chef Thomas Bissegger, a rising star chef from Switzerland, has just arrived to Myanmar on his first ever trip to the exotic country. Bissegger is currently a teacher at the prestigious Swiss Culinary Art school of Weggis with the experience in renowned Michelin Star restaurants, being a member of Swiss Culinary Team, and winning national and international competitions such as the Swiss Culinary Cup and Bocuse d’Or.
During this trip, he brought along products and ingredients straight from Switzerland to showcase his award-winning skills at SEEDS restaurant & lounge as a part of experimental dinner series. Get to know him more in this 10 Qs interview.
- When did you start to develop a passion for cooking?
A: I never wanted to become a chef. In the early times, I’ve always wanted to become an informatics person. While I was doing an internship as an informatics person, the informatics company installed a kitchen and that changed my life completely. From then on, I only wanted to become a chef and since then, I never wanted to do anything else than to be behind the stove and the kitchen and until today, that hasn’t changed at all.
- How did you train to become a chef?
A: I had my apprenticeship in a clinic where I learned all the basics of cooking. I was extremely hardworking and disciplined. I always trained myself and was always ambitious to get onward. I am kind of a self-made chef because we didn’t have anybody in the family who was related to the profession or had a restaurant or a hotel. It all came from within my heart and my soul and it developed over the years quickly.
- Did you go to a culinary training school?
A: In Switzerland, I had a lot of opportunities. I finished my apprenticeship. Later, I finished a higher degree of Bachelor of Chef, and now I finished my Master of chef level, which is the highest degree possible, a chef could get in Switzerland. This degree does not only contain creativity, but also organization and management. During my career, I’m only 30 years old. I managed through a lot of effort and hard work to be first a part of the junior national culinary team of Switzerland, and then I was quickly stepping up to be a member of the real national culinary team of Switzerland, competing all over the world in the big international competition and this was also important for me to train myself, to get further onward, and to develop creativity.
- As you have won many awards, what are your secrets to the accomplishment?
A: It very simple. Work hard and make it nice every day without any exception. Just give him the best of yourself and then it will work. Thomas was able to join last year Daniel Humm in New York who was just rewarded recently as the Best Base Chef in the World.
- What is one ingredient you can’t live without?
A: My most favorite ingredients are Avocado and Lime. Even though these ingredients are not originated in Europe and not always available in Europe, but I really love them and cook with them all the time. I prepare dessert, meat, fish, you can find them everywhere. And the third one is Bread. I am desperately in love with Bread and I love all the qualities and I integrate different Breads in different ways in different dishes.
- What’s your favorite food? Do you cook your own food?
A: My favorite food is very simple. Bread is the base of everything. With bread it starts, with bread it ends. If the bread is nice then I’m absolutely happy. There’s one thing I can’t stand is the taste of banana. And if I have to decide today, I would have to say is Älpermagronen, a typical Swiss pasta dish with cream cheese, sauce, bacon, and roasted onion. We usually eat it in the wintertime and it’s like very opera family dish, which I just love when it’s nicely done.
Usually, I love to cook my own food when I have time. If not, if I’m very busy, my girlfriend cooks for me; she’s not a chef but she cooks very delicious food. When we want to give us a treat, we also go outside.
- Do you have a role model that you look up to?
A: Definitely, I look up to Daniel Humm, the chef I mentioned before. Not only as a chef, but his characteristics and personality: the way he treats his staff, the way he handles his ingredients, the respect he has and he says humbly that, “Cooking is not an art, cooking is a handicraft. We are workers, we are not artists. If you know your handiwork well, it can become an art.” This is what I really admire. I also admire how he stepped up very quickly in the competitive environment of New York, and what he has created in a short time.
- Is this your first time in Myanmar? How do you find it here?
A: Yes, my first time in Asia. It’s very nice, very hot; it’s very special for me. I love the people here. It’s a very lovely country.
- What can expect from your dish on Thursday?
A: Avocado and lime. It will be very simple food. There will be a strong focus on the product, the simplicity and the match of the product into a colorful contemporary presentation which is using the things you can eat and not a big build up of textures or flowers, everything will be edible and colorful and very tasty, of course.
- What’s your next step?
A: My next step is definitely to set up my own restaurant. For the time being, I am a freelancer. I have a lot of exciting projects and I am a teacher of the highest Culinary Art Academy in Switzerland, but also because of my age, I now want to do my own business in my own frame where I can move and develop more and also be on the competitive market, which for me is definitely the next ambitious target that I want to achieve.
More detail on his menu and reservation: http://www.seedsyangon.com/young-swiss-shooting-star-chef
*His menu can be enjoyed from July 27 – August 13, 2017.