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Friends and Fools – WTF?


It’s big.

Farm and garden. Culinary Lab and Cookery School. Bakery, Charcuterie and Fromagerie. We’re tapping into our agricultural heritage – and our culinary future. We are building a community that goes far beyond our family, including our young generation.

Last year, the Friends and Fools Lounge moved into our former ski storage in the basement, where the famous Sennkesselbar used to be. For anyone who doesn’t exactly know what Friends and Fools actually means, we’ve summarised what we’ve come up with.

Why “Friends and Fools”?

We must admit up front, we are pretty crazy. Crazy about everything that has to do with food, drink and high-class hospitality. We never feel like we’ve reached the end of the line with what we do, but instead try to improve. Every single day. We look around the world, we have interesting concepts and committed people on our radar with whom we share one thing: an obsession for quality, for improvement, for further development. It was therefore clear to us that this madness must also be reflected in the name of our latest concept. We are the crazy ones — the Fools — and with what we do, we address our friends and guests directly, who are just as crazy: the Friends and Fools.

What kind of concept is “Friends and Fools”?

First and foremost, the “Friends and Fools” concept stands for the centre of excellence that we are creating here at the hotel. We are accumulating culinary knowledge — and this is not only manifested in our large cookbook library, which is housed in the Friends and Fools Lounge. We have set up a well-equipped Culinary Lab and, in Jamie Unshelm, we have a dedicated head chef who is burst- ing with ideas. We regularly bring in expertise, people who have done crazy and fantastic things in their lifetime. We try to not only benefit from this knowledge ourselves, but also to share it with everyone at Rote Wand — employees, guests and people who are interested in special occasions. “Friends and Fools” is an open concept in which everyone can participate.

What exactly happens under the “Friends and Fools” label?

Specifically, we regularly organise events. On the one hand, these are masterclasses in which people with special skills come to Rote Wand and share their knowledge with our friends and guests. Whether it’s about carving game, poultry or fish, fermenting animal or vegetable products, explaining the composition of aromas and or simply the craft of fantastic cooking: we collect and share knowledge.

What is the vision of “Friends and Fools”

We are looking for people who inspire us — and people who support us in our vision. (If you are prepared to make a financial contribution, please contact us directly. We have worked out some interesting offers for this.) The following three things are at the centre of “Friends and Fools”:

Firstly, our lounge is a meeting place — best characterised by our long table, which seats 24 people. This is a marvellous place: it brings people together, even if they have never met before. There is something cheerful, unifying and transformative about sharing the joy of the exceptional: the “friends and fools” who come together get up from our table in the best of moods, with new acquaintances and inspiration.

Secondly, we try our catering concepts here. We don’t just invite restaurateurs whose work we find particularly interesting to host a meal: we ask them to share their knowledge with us, exchange ideas and — like the famous Baroque master builders from Bregenzerwald — we always bring new expertise into the house. You can find the names of everyone we have already welcomed to the Friends and Fools Lounge this year from page 40 onwards.

Thirdly, the Friends and Fools Lounge is also a place for discussion. We invite people who we are interested in to talk to us and inspire us. It’s not even always about food. The focus is often on people whose knowledge and biographies point in completely different directions — but who are nevertheless role models for us and inspire us. After all, food and drink are just as much a part of our cultural canon as literature, music or science.

What happens in the Culinary Lab, which is part of the Friends and Fools Lounge?

As the name suggests, culinary ideas and techniques are tested here. On the one hand, the lab is equipped with very special kitchen appliances that make various molecular transformations of food possible. The second important cultivation technique that is being trialled and perfected here is fermentation, both lacto-fermentation and fermentation with koji mushrooms. The third is natural cuisine, which is closely linked to our alpine environment and is based on products that we grow ourselves or collect in the alpine environment around Zug and then work with. We also bake our own bread daily. The sourdough from our bakery covers the needs of the whole house. Charcuterie and new ideas for accompanying drinks are also created.

What is experimental about the Culinary Lab?

Many things. The zero-waste principle, for example. In the Culinary Lab coffee grounds are processed into kombucha or a coffee vinegar. Leftover sourdough bread is turned into kvass, a certain type of lemonade, or into bread miso paste, which in turn is used for sauces, spreads, chutneys and desserts. Various types of kimchi are made from vegetable scraps — the most popular is savoy cabbage kimchi — or sauerkraut, made from fennel, for example. Red or yellow peppers are vacuum-packed, pressed and fermented. The result is a puree that is either whipped up with butter and used in the kitchen or dried and processed into a spice. And these are just a few examples of concrete achievements from the lab.

Do the results achieved in the Culinary Lab flow into the kitchen of Rote Wand?

Of course, that is one of the goals we want to achieve here. That being said, the lab enjoys enough freedom to pursue its development in peace. We see what is created here as an offer to the kitchens at Rote Wand and at the Chef’s Table. Communication takes place bilaterally between the chefs and Jamie Unshelm, head chef of the Lab.

How can hotel guests and interested parties from outside the hotel take advantage of the work in the Friends and Fools Lounge?

By simply registering for events via the Rote Wand reception. Everyone is welcome in the Friends and Fools Lounge. The programme is regularly announced on the website and registration is informal. In addition to the masterclasses and guest appearances by winemakers and guest chefs, Jamie Unshelm invites guests to try a large menu every week. This is based on his experience from the Culinary Lab on the one hand, and Jamie’s past as a top chef in various leading European restaurants on the other (apprenticeship with Sascha Kemmerer at Ifen, stints with Jonnie Boer, Nuno Mendes at Prado in Lisbon, at Le Moissonnier in Cologne and, last but not least, with Max Natmessnig at Rote Wand Chef’s Table).

What’s the deal with the festivals and the Feldküche events?

They are an integral part of our programme and concentrate everything that we love and stand for, in a series of events that are specific to every season. Our festivals offer the opportunity to experience as much as possible in just a few days: simple, clever, sensual, but of course also lots of fun.