«Natural Chef» Rebecca Clopath
By Franco Brunner
The chairs are still leaning against the tables and the sunshades are still closed. Only in about half an hour does the «Café Fortuna» in the middle of the 40-inhabitant village of Lohn at the Schamserberg open its doors. In the morning quietness, this perfect nature idyll which can be experienced by visitors in the small café garden can be enjoyed even more consciously. A breath-taking panorama surrounded by beautiful old farmhouses and fields with an organic farm next door as well as an inviting table where a selection of homemade bread awaits.
Having barely arrived, one already feels noticeably relaxed here. The young lady entering the garden from the small café kitchen also looks relaxed. «Hello, I'm Rebecca», she says, while greeting the guest with a firm handshake and a welcoming smile.
So this is her, Rebecca Clopath, the highly praised chef that has repeatedly been referred to as a so-called «natural chef» by the press and who, according to experts could easily run a top-class restaurant. Could – yes. But this is not the 29-year olds goal. Instead, the bustling young woman has other ideas. Ideas that she puts into practice here in her home town – among other things in her mother's café.
It is important to me that there is a closed cycle when cooking.
Reflection on Nature
Rebecca Clopath does not need anything like a warm-up or start-up time. She is immediately right in the middle of her forte – natural cooking. «It is important to me that there is a closed cycle when cooking», Clopath begins to philosophise. She always wanted nature to be integral to her dishes. After all, we humans are a part of this nature, which unfortunately many have forgotten.
When Clopath talks about cooking as such or about all the herbs and natural flavours that you can find right in your doorstep, she never sounds instructive. Instead, joy, passion and deep conviction are heard from their words. And her infectious laugh again and again. This is true even when she talks about her apprenticeship at «Chrüteroski» at the «Moospinte» restaurant in Münchenbuchsee, or from the six years with Stefan Wiesner – the distinguished expert of the avant-garde natural cuisine – for who she worked as a chef at the end.
These were great, strict and foremost incredibly educational times, Clopath recalls. Experiences which she can now use – twelve years after leaving – in her projects back in her home town Lohn. And these are not just a few projects that the hardworking chef is running. In addition to working in the mother's village cafe, Clopath also offers cooking workshops and so-called eating perception sessions – offers that are now attracting a lot of interest.
Always in the centre is Clopath's cooking philosophy which doesn’t just start in the kitchen, but begins with correct plant cultivation and animal welfare. As for all her culinary creations, Clopath always relies entirely on local, organic and fair products. You will search in vain for «exotics» such as peppers, cloves or vanilla in Clopath's kitchen. Instead, there are aromatic surprises in the style of a fresh wild herb salad (see recipe) or Swiss stone pine or quince wood glacés – yes, these things really exist up here. And by the way, Clopath has also completed the «farmers’ college» in Spiez. The aim is to take over the parental farm together with two friends in the near future. Then the cycle would be closed again.
Arrived at Home
Meanwhile, the first guests have arrived on the garden terrace of «Café Fortuna» and enjoy the beautiful day in this dream environment. Rebecca Clopath could continue philosophising about nature, culinary skills, cycles and the like, but work is calling. However, Clopath still clarifies the question as to whether she had never regretted returning to her old home, as well as any missed opportunities as a potential urban gourmet star chef. «The world of fame, honour, points and stars is not for me. I also do not see myself as a top or star chef. I'm simply Rebecca. And up here in Lohn I have everything I need to put my ideas into action.» After saying this she says goodbye with the same firm handshake and the welcoming smile and returns contently to the small café kitchen.
Franco lives in Domat/Ems but feels at home everywhere in Graubünden.