Fiery pleasure and enjoyment
Chris Züger brings his
magic to the Feuerring
Fire has always fascinated mankind; even thousands of years ago, a blazing flame meant warmth and life. A place to meet, to deepen friendships, a place for cooking and enjoying food together. The Feuerring as a modern fireplace combines all these attributes: Social gatherings around a crackling fire that aesthetically enriches every garden space. The Giardina 2018 exhibition brought together what belongs together: An outdoor kitchen reduced to the basics and a master chef who transforms the principle of this simplicity into culinary highlights.
Here is our interview with the designer of the original Feuerring, Andreas Reichlin (AR), and Chris Züger (CZ), the managing director of Lust auf Mehr GmbH and co-founder and manager of the «Mémoire» Restaurant in the Löwenbräu complex in Zurich, who, together with the GRILLIER BAR, transformed the exhibition forecourt into a «Barbecuing on Art» hot spot. They took the time to answer our questions:
Andreas Reichlin, grill rings have been a hugely popular garden addition for several years now. The Feuerring created this market – what gave you the idea in the first place? And what is the Feuerring for you?
The Feuerring came about because I enjoy barbecuing but was having trouble digesting food cooked over a charcoal grill. As an artist and aesthete, it not only had to do its job, it also had to offer a complete experience of beauty, simplicity, high quality and rich materials.
For me personally, the Feuerring is sculpture, healthy eating, a place to gather with friends and an enduring object in my garden. Most people don’t want to see a grill after using it and store it away from sight; but that’s not the case with the Feuerring, which actually becomes more beautiful over the years.
The indirect barbecuing market has grown rapidly in recent years - a vast number of grill rings are now available. How do you deal with this?
We’ve decided to focus on what’s important to us: Our own pleasure in beauty and in living and passing on top quality, thereby accompanying a product that eventually becomes an heirloom. The Feuerring has a remarkable story that we want to tell!
I use the Feuerring because I believe in the product; it is original and of the highest quality. When you watch something grow, help make it bigger and better, there’s no question of using anything else.
You’re not only a grill master, but also a master chef with a wide range of specialist experience. Tell us about your career to date and what you’re currently up to!
I started, like most people do, with an apprenticeship in a country inn, then completed my military service, spent a few years working in Gault-Millau seasonal establishments, gaining experience on culinary trips around Australia, Thailand … I became assistant to the head chef for Mosimann Catering in London, graduated as a head chef and managed the restaurant of the House of Switzerland for several years during the Olympics and the World Cup. I, therefore, spent the summer of 2016 in Rio de Janeiro with several Feuerring grills. I managed the UBS conference centre restaurant Turicum in Zurich and, as a creator for Feuerring, was allowed to suggest a number of recipes for the FEUER book. I’ve been running the Swiss event company Lust auf Mehr GmbH since 2017 and I’m also co-founder and head chef of the Mémoire Restaurant in the Löwenbräu complex in Zurich.
Andreas, how did you get to know each other?
Through a former employee. We clicked instantly during our very first meeting around the Feuerring and we invited Chris to come up with some Feuerring menus for our cookbook set FEUER & RING.
Do you therefore have a burning desire for the Feuerring, Chris?
Of course! Personally, the Feuerring is much more than just barbecuing. In the meantime, it’s become part of my professional and private life. In my spare time, I use it throughout the year, just to enjoy it or to try out new recipes. The Feuerring is my way of winding down after a hard week at work.
How did you experience working on the cookbook set FEUER & RING, Chris - how did you come up with the recipes?
It was something totally different and extremely exciting, a wonderful experience. I first had to learn the ins and outs of the Feuerring: I soon realised that steaks, potatoes and vegetables were easy, while other things needed a bit more thought. So I tried to create whole menus without using a single pot or pan; I worked with liquid and steam. The Feuerring became my cooker – a complete kitchen consisting of fire, a spatula and water. Once equipped with this knowledge, I became more adventurous, working with hay, cherry wood, fir branches and nettles. I still haven’t explored everything the Feuerring can do in terms of cooking.
Have you been working together on anything else since completing the cookbook set back in the spring of 2016?
Chris has become a great ambassador for the Feuerring. Together with his team, he organises events for anyone interested in the Feuerring and regularly gives barbecuing workshops at our studio.
Lots of Feuerring events are already booked for 2018, and in the spring I’d like to treat my guests to Feuerring menus outdoors at the restaurant.
Is showcasing the product at trade fairs and exhibitions also an integral part of the Feuerring marketing activities?
Trade fairs are not actually our thing, the Feuerring is, of course, an exclusive product and we want to ensure exclusive appearances in exclusive locations.
A few years ago, the organisers of the Giardina exhibition decided to open up the outdoor area to exhibitors. Back then, we were all alone on the exhibition forecourt, something we really appreciated. In the meantime, the grill ring market has grown substantially, but we don’t feel part of this group; the Feuerring is a beautifully crafted sculpture that does not look out of place in any garden - besides being a fully functional tool.
Chris, you and your team have been organising private and bigger events with the Feuerring for a number of years. How do you view trade fairs and event catering?
The Feuerring must be marketed as the original, and it should be talked about. You’re always going to get imitations, and that’s why I’m delighted to be able to use these events to demonstrate just how easy cooking can be on this beautiful piece of equipment. Events always demand a special kind of catering; as a chef, it’s great to be able to experience the joy and appreciation that guests show at a Feuerring event! Being that close to the customer is something that my team and I have come to value dearly.
Is it possible to prepare and cook everything you need on the Feuerring?
Definitely! Chris demonstrated this perfectly at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro - when he used Feuerring grills to cook culinary delights at the «House of Switzerland» for thousands of visitors. And gourmet chef Stefan Wiesner – also known as the «sorcerer» – serves up an eight-course menu solely cooked on the Feuerring.
With my firm, Lust auf Mehr GmbH, we’re able to prepare a complete menu for 10 or 300 people on and with the aid of the Feuerring. Nothing is pre-cooked, we work without electricity and are not at all restricted in terms of product choice. That’s something that fascinates me time and time again.
Chris, Andreas, what have you got planned with the Feuerring? What can we look forward to?
We’ll be demonstrating what the Feuerring can do and ensuring a culinary firework of taste.
You can look forward to completely new dimensions of barbecuing that are simple, healthy, genuine, delicious and convivial. The motto of our ‹GRILLIER BAR› is ‹Barbecuing on Art› and we mean this in every sense of the phrase. Come and enjoy pleasant encounters and culinary delights around the Feuerring.