Stories from the banquet kitchen

– In his role as Executive Chef at Zurich Convention Center, Patrick Hetz accompanies dishes from the original idea to their presentation on the plate. Particularly in the banquet kitchen, he proves that big occasions, quality, and an individual approach are by no means mutually exclusive – quite the opposite.

“It all starts with an idea,” says Executive Chef Patrick Hetz, “and then we have to ask ourselves how we can implement it here at Zurich Convention Center.” The process then continues with scouting for local suppliers through to tastings and calculations, and finally implementation in the 500 square metre banquet kitchen.

 

Preferably still next to a hot stove

Working in the background, Hetz keeps everything under control, coordinates the two areas (banquet and restaurant) as efficiently as possible, keeps an eye on staffing and purchase costs, and takes care of stewarding and inventory. So does that leave any time for cooking? “Fortunately it does!” sighs Hetz. Administrative tasks may force him to spend time in his office, but he still prefers to be standing next to a hot stove. Thus Hetz can at times be seen preparing 100 litres of veal jus or gratin for 1000 people “because I’m neither willing nor able to manage my team from the comfort of my office.”

Organisation is everything

Big occasions mean that up to 40 cooks can be working in the large kitchen at Zurich Convention Center. Things are then as you might imagine: it’s hot, ovens and steamers are beeping, there’s steam and hissing, it’s noisy and sometimes hectic too. This should come as no surprise when between 15 and 2000 people are wanting to be pampered upstairs. Nevertheless, Hetz puts things into perspective: “Organisation is the be-all and end-all in the banquet kitchen.” If he gets purchasing and staff planning right in advance, the event itself isn’t so demanding – instead, it’s mainly the time leading up to it.

 

Customized culinary options

In the meantime, an extensive banquet menu has been assembled, from which customers - in conjunction with Hetz - select dishes that are personally tailored to their respective occasion. The menu is varied, and features many spicy and refreshing notes such as ginger or yuzu. “We don’t steer these complex flavours in an Asian direction, but incorporate them harmoniously into international and local cuisine,” reveals Hetz. Furthermore, the banquet kitchen that’s been planned is first and foremost sustainable, making it possible for customers to be completely CO2-neutral in Zurich Convention Center.

 

A seasonal and local focus pays off

“Sustainability and food waste are of course really major issues when it comes to banquets and catering,” confirms Hetz. Customers can also play a big part here: the more precisely they communicate the number of people (together with any food intolerances and special requests) in advance, the more accurate the preparations will be. Moreover, seasonal menus are less expensive for customers: “Guests benefit from ripe, high-quality products fresh from the market – and we’re happy to pass that on when it comes to pricing,” says Hetz. Zurich Convention Center is currently in the process of developing a joint venture with the ‘Too Good To Go’ food platform.

“You can discuss almost anything with me - but never quality.”

Patrick Hetz, Executive Chef, Zurich Convention Center

Culinary storytelling

Whether it be street food, an Indian buffet with a range of regional dishes, or a 7-course vegan meal, there are no limits to the culinary opportunities that Zurich Convention Center can offer. The menu serves as inspiration. Hetz says: “A couple are currently planning their wedding with us. When it comes to the food we provide, the two of them want to relive the steps in their journey together from a culinary perspective: Japan, Bali and Australia.” He has recently added to his knowledge of vegan cuisine too. Hetz is radiant – customers’ requests inspire him and broaden his horizons: “You can discuss almost anything with me - but never quality.”

 

Profile

Name: Patrick Hetz
Function: Executive Chef
Expertise: Organizer, Motivator, Meat tenderizer
What he likes about his work: Fulfilling guests’ requests with creations from his kitchen

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