Amanda and Sven's story is worthy of a film: they met 16 years ago at the 5-star Hotel Swissôtel Le Plaza in Basel. The British woman was doing an internship abroad as part of her hotel management education. Sven from Fricktal in the canton of Aargau was doing an apprenticeship as a chef at Swissôtel Le Plaza. "There was an immediate spark between us," Amanda tells us with shining eyes. "We were both determined and had a desire to step on the gas," adds Sven. The two envisioned a future together and dreamed of working together in a luxury restaurant one day.
Amanda and Sven moved to Zurich together in 2007. During this time, they worked for about four years in various award-winning restaurants, including Schloss Schauenstein, which is run by celebrity chef Andreas Caminada. Soon, Amanda felt homesick. She wanted to return to London and continue her training as a wine sommelier. This came just at the right time for Sven: "I always wanted to gain experience abroad as a chef. This was my chance!
Amanda and Sven came back to Switzerland in 2013 because of an offer from a former work colleague: The head chef of the Focus restaurant at the Parkhotel Vitznau on Lake Lucerne was looking for a right-hand man and a head sommelière. "The Parkhotel Vitznau has the largest wine cellar in Europe. I almost couldn't say no," Amanda Wassmer-Bulgin explains her return to Switzerland.
Sven's great opportunity came in 2014, when he was able to take up his first position as head chef at the Silver restaurant in the 7132 Hotel Vals in Val Lumnezia in the canton of Graubünden. "Finally I was able to implement my own ideas!" Sven is dedicated to alpine cuisine and works with the best producers in the area. Sven himself describes his cooking style as minimalist and purist: "The longer I cook, the more I leave out!", Sven explains. The sparkle in his eyes as he talks about his work makes his passion for cooking obvious. He laughs: "In the end, though, I just cook with salt and water like everyone else." For Sven, cooking is both a passion and a lifestyle.
Sven's culinary handwriting not only convinced the guests of the 7132 Silver Restaurant, but also the GaultMillau testers. After only a few months, they awarded him 17 GaultMillau points and the title "Discovery of the Year". At the beginning, this had never been done before. In addition, he also received his first Michelin star. Sven proudly explains, "With Amanda as restaurant manager and head sommelière, I had a sensational team that worked at the highest level and implemented my ideas". The chef and his team were also rewarded the following year, when Sven Wassmer was named Rising Star of the Year 2018 and awarded 18 Gault Millau points. "We have put an inconspicuous village of 1000 souls on the map of the culinary world. We could hardly top this achievement," laughs Sven Wassmer.
While Sven was making a name for himself as a star chef, his wife took the opportunity to gain further valuable experience as a sommelière. Amanda travelled to Argentina to produce overseas wine herself. In 2016, Amanda and Sven got married in Val Lumnezia. Two years later, their son was born. "In one fell swoop, our needs and priorities changed," the couple says. Living in the middle of the mountains was all well and good, but with a child it was no longer practical. They quit their jobs and reoriented themselves. They moved to the canton of St. Gallen by chance, so to speak. Amanda laughs: "I simply entered a 20-kilometre radius of Graubünden on a real estate platform and that was the result".
A brief internet research showed the Wassmer family that Buchs is very centrally located and has a good public transport network. There are direct connections to Zurich Airport, Austria's capital Vienna and Liechtenstein. "The town with village character offers everything you need!" sums up Sven Wassmer. Within a few minutes you can be at the Bahnhofstrasse for shopping or in the forest for a walk. Amanda adds: "In addition, the municipality of Buchs is very family-friendly and multicultural." She attends an early music education programme at the music school with her three-year-old son and is also very satisfied with the day care centre. Another plus point for the Englishwoman is the International School Rheintal in Buchs.
In spring 2018, Sven received a call which would make his family's life in the Sarganserland-Werdenberg area perfect: General Manager Marco R. Zanolari invited him and his wife to the Grand Hotel Quellenhof. He told them about his plan to completely renovate the Quellenhof and asked the couple for their support. "We had to let this request sink in first," reveals Sven, "But then it quickly felt right and we accepted the unique job offer." As Culinary Director of the Grand Hotel Quellenhof, Sven helped shape the Quellenhof's transformation from conception to implementation. Sven opened two new restaurants: In his signature restaurant "Memories" he cooks for his guests in an open show kitchen. The lifestyle restaurant "verve by sven" is characterised by a unique concept that turns healthy and balanced nutrition into a lifestyle of enjoyment. The bar in the middle of the restaurant invites you to stay away from the hectic world. The exclusive culinary offer is rounded off by Amanda's extensive wine knowledge. Only three months after opening his "Memory", Sven was able to collect his first laurels: 18 GaultMillau points from the critical testers. Another five months later, the fine-dining restaurant received two Michelin stars. After only eight months, Sven had established himself with his new restaurant.
Only one year after the renovation of the Quellenhof, GaultMillau named the Grand Resort Bad Ragaz "Hotel of the Year" for the third time. Sven's 18 GaultMillau points for the fine-dining restaurant Memories were also confirmed and for the restaurant "verve by sven" there were also 14 GaultMillau points on top. "I am at the top of my career, have a wonderful family and have found a new home in Buchs. It definitely can't be topped," says Sven full of gratitude. Amanda nods in agreement. She is currently completing the Master of Wine, the most demanding wine education in the world, in addition to her family and job. "Our new life allows me to balance everything I love - family and job. And in a region where I feel comfortable even as a foreigner."