The train rises through the mountains, hugging hairpin turns and opening up expansive vistas. Even before you get to the majestic Tschuggen Grand Hotel in Arosa, Switzerland, you are already excited about the journey. And when you do arrive, almost 6,000 feet above sea level, it is an elevated experience in every way.
Designed by Swiss architect Mario Botta, the Tschuggen Grand offers a perfect balance of comfort and beauty, wit and whimsy, wellness and joy. The family-owned Tschuggen Hotel Group owns four luxury hotels in Switzerland—the Tschuggen Grand in Arosa, the Carlton St. Moritz, Valsana Hotel Arosa, Hotel Eden Roc Ascona. All exist in beautiful natural settings, which the owners want to protect. To this end, they partner with the myclimate foundation and have been 100 percent climate-neutral since 2019.
The Tschuggen’s wellness initiatives are as deep-rooted as its commitment to sustainability. The comprehensive Moving Mountains program, recently launched, incorporates five pillars: Move, Play, Nourish, Rest, Give. Highlights include a plant-based Michelin-star menu; outdoor yoga; a Sleep Experience, in partnership with the Hofklinik, a leading sleep center in Lucerne; snowshoe hiking; and a vast menu of restorative spa treatments at the extraordinary 5,000-square-foot Tschuggen Bergoase, spread over four floors, with cold and hot indoor and outdoor pools, saunas, an extensive Bathing Course and incredible views. For skiers, there is the Tschuggen Express—a private funicular up the ski mountain. And few experiences are more invigorating than ice bathing, where a hole is cut in the frozen Untersee, a mountain bathing lake in Arosa, with access to a nearby sauna.
Marco Campanella is the young Michelin-star chef at La Brezza at the Tschuggen Grand and Eden Roc, and creator of the six-course, plant-based menu, which evolved together with the wellness program. Both take inspiration from the local surroundings. “We worked on a completely new Moving Mountains Menu, inspired by the Swiss Mountains: whole, fresh, seasonal and nutrient-dense food,” Campanella says.
La Brezza is an intimate spot off the main lobby, where guests are enveloped in soft colors and cozy tables that are spaced far apart for privacy. Campanella is German, with Puglian roots, and his food has a subtle Italian inflection. The cuisine at La Brezza is fresh, modern and extremely delicious, but creating a six-course, plant-based menu this good, which will satisfy meat-eaters as well as vegans, and getting the flavors just right, was a challenge, Chef says.
“We try to create an intensity so that people who don’t usually eat plant-based won’t feel that something is missing,” he says. “Hence our menus combine all elements from sweet to sour, smoky and salty.” Dishes like Cavatelli with Turnip Top and White Beans, Chicory in Mushroom Broth with Roasted Apple Cabbage Sauce; and Beetroot, Horseradish and Tarragon are hearty, innovative and deeply satisfying. Traditional fine dining ingredients like black truffle and red wine sauce are also incorporated into the menu, and refreshing surprises abound, such as a Bergamot and Kombucha Granita.
Saucing vegan dishes provided an additional challenge, Chef says. “You need a lot more ingredients to get the same result as in a fish- or meat-based sauce. For example, my celery jus takes about 30 kg of celery, which we roast in the oven. Then we add 10 liters of water and finally reduce it down to two to three liters of jus,” he continues. “Also the choice of red wine for deglazing had to be reconsidered. Usually red wines contain protein from the clarifying process. Therefore we only use vegan red wine for our Moving Mountains Menu.”
Campanella relies on seasonal, regional ingredients, and he certainly has his favorites. “In summer, definitely tomato and cucumber which are superbly nice and fresh,” he says “In winter, black salsify which is similar to wild asparagus. It has an incredibly earthy and intense flavor. I’m also a fan of topinambur (Jerusalem artichoke), a kind of tuberous root. With these ingredients we usually make purees, pickles, stews or smoke them.”
Finding vegan alternatives makes it even more interesting. “When we talk about binders, we don’t use butter, cream, milk or gelatin for our vegan creations. Instead, we use chickpea water quite often. Actually, many new products have been added to our new menu, which we’ll introduce in July.” The Tschuggen Grand is open from the end of November through early April and then again in early July through mid-September each year. La Brezza at the Tschuggen Grand is open at the end of November through early April, then it moves to the Eden Roc.
Tomato Tartare with Avocado Cream
FOR THE TARTARE
15 Ramati tomatoes (vine-ripe tomatoes)
10 pine nuts, briefly roasted in pan
2 tablespoons Aceto Mazzetti (balsamic vinegar of Modena)
FOR THE TOMATO CREAM
11⁄2 cups + 3 tablespoons (400 g) Pelati tomatoes peeled (can)
FOR THE TOMATO WATER FOR TOMATO STOCK
Use tomato meat from the Ramati tomatoes
20 cherry tomatoes
Basil leaves, a small handful
FOR THE TOMATO STOCK
11/4 teaspoon (5 g) sugar
1⁄4 cup (25 g) Aceto Mazzetti (balsamic vinegar of Modena)
13/4 cup (350 ml) tomato water
1/2 cup (100 ml) white wine
1⁄4 cup (25 g) Noilly Prat
1⁄4 cup (25 g) carrots
1 cup (100 g) shallots
3/8 cup (30 g) fennel
3/8 cup (30 g) cherry tomatoes
Pepper, bay leaf, mustard seed, coriander, tarragon
1 garlic bulb
FOR THE AVOCADO CREAM
2 ripe avocados
2 tablespoons vegan sour cream
1/2 lime, juice only
Score the tomatoes. Blanch in salted water for 10 seconds, quench in ice water and peel off the skin. Then season with salt, pepper, garlic and basil leaves. Dry in the oven at 175 degrees F (80 degrees C) for 2 hours. Cut into small cubes and mix with roasted pine nuts and balsamic vinegar.
Slowly stew Pelati tomatoes in the pot until there is no more liquid. Then mix with a hand blender. Season with salt and olive oil.
TOMATO WATER FOR TOMATO STOCK
Use the tomato meat for tomato water, add 20 cherry tomatoes, marinate with salt, Mazzetti vinegar, olive oil, a pinch of pepper, basil and half an onion and let it steep for 15 minutes. Mix and pass a hand blender through.
Mix the tomato water with the remaining ingredients for the tomato stock and boil until reduced by half.
Stir all ingredients until creamy. Then arrange the tomato tartare on a plate with the help of a cookie cutter, decorate with tomato cream, avocado cream and various herbs. Pour the tomato stock into the plate as a base.