Story of a journey that changes your life
Travelers know it: leaving one’s comfort zone, breaking out of routines and giving into the unknown, just for a week, a month or a year, can trigger chance encounters and events that create a spark and change your way of seeing yourself and your reality .
“The story of Fabian Spiquel speaks to this: it’s an embodiment of that specific moment when one feels called to stop, listen and leave in search of answers… “
Born in Airlie Beach, on the Great Barrier Reef, to a French father and Swiss mother, Fabian Spiquel was raised near Brisbane. He grew professionally in Australia and then moved to Zurich, where his career immediately took off and drew the attention of both critics and renowned restaurants. Being a chef, especially in high-level restaurants, is stressful, and Fabian, overwhelmed by his unexpected success, starts feeling burdened by the responsibilities and by the fast pace of his rising career. In his frenzied days, he felt a lack of the most important component of his job, namely creativity, and had the courage to take a step back: he decided to put his work and the proposal of becoming partner of a well-known restaurant on hold, setting out for South America, in search of wild lands, inner peace and that part of himself that he felt was dormant in Zurich. For the first legs of his trip, he focused on discovering autochthonous superfoods, such as macomber fruit or maqui berries, which are nutrient-rich and have an exotic flavor, and he learned new processing methods to help preserve all their beneficial properties.
Fabian’s research and his wandering through Latin America reached a turning point in Peru, where he hiked the Inca Trail, going from Cuzco toward legendary Machu Picchu, where he engaged in shamanic rituals of self-consciousness, relying on the millenary wisdom of jungle’s dwellers. It was there, in a reality diametrically opposed to the one he was used to, that he lived alone in a mud hut, without electricity or a mobile phone. Once a day, the shaman that guided him on his spiritual awakening path brought him rice, water and sometimes a cup of local tea, made with vines and herbs. Free from distractions and finally face to face with himself, Fabian found more existential balance and sense of self. This newfound inner peace immediately affected the chef’s culinary creativity and after a couple days, he felt recharged,
The richness of the jungle also exposed Fabian to an incredible variety of unknown aromas which he experienced along the way, so at the end of it he finds himself with 50 menus inspired by the journey, as well as14 kilos of exotic food in his luggage. On his return to Zurich, Fabian was ready to start working again with renewed energy and a strong sense of self-awareness.
“Since Fabian Spiquel’s arrival at Maison Manesse, there have been few rules or formalities, just freedom and creative research.”
The restaurant and the menu reflect his continuous desire for discovery and his choices, in contrast to Zurich’s typical classicism and elegance, have been totally supported by Miguel Ledesma, his partner and the vivacious manager and host of Maison Manesse. The consecration in the culinary world’s Olympus isn’t far off: the dishes, which take the guests on travels around the world, and the relaxed atmosphere, have already earned two Michelin stars. It’s clear that honesty, particularly with ourselves, always wins.
While creating his dishes, Fabian mainly focuses on food’s nutritional value, often replacing traditional preparation methods with techniques that can preserve all their properties and using alternative products, such as sacha inchi instead of olive oil.
In parallel he makes a careful selection of the ingredients, with a special attention to superfoods, as he is conscious of the benefits that he experienced during his journey. He continues traveling for this reason, in order to discover and experience new raw materials. Fabian also manages their import to Switzerland, which can be rather restrictive in this regard. Maison Manesse also pays special attention to sustainability and pursues this mission on all fronts, not only using organic vegetables but also buying them from local producers, recycling all its waste, and using purified water, in order to reduce environmental impact. They also support natural wine producers and repair broken kitchen tools rather than throwing them away.
The approach towards the customers is different as well, since all the dishes are available à la carte. Guests are therefore not forced to choose an expensive menu that also requires lingering at the table for a long time. For Fabian and Miguel, contact with people is what really matters. There is also the possibility to order a “Sharing Dish” for three or more people: a big tray of seasonal delicacies to be tasted in complete freedom, enjoying conviviality and sharing. Curated music selection, whitewashed exposed brick walls, chandeliers with warm lights and an industrial styled bar area prepare the guests for a travel-oriented experience, beginning with the 500 wines, which are sourced from all over the globe from Spain to Lebanon, from Hungary to Germany, not to mention Austria. Fabian’s proposals continuously change, according to his unfailing creative inspiration. Often the guests can be asked to give the final touch to their own dish… if you order a tartare you could find yourself grilling rosemary, honey and goat cheese marshmallows on an open flame at your table!
Every menu item is a surprise and mixes local products with other ones coming from faraway countries… at Maison Manesse you’ll feel like a global citizen, eating duck combined with shiso, high mountain potatoes seasoned with lovage, truffle mixed with sunchokes and macadamia nuts… Prepare for takeoff!