Anton Mosimann: a short biography

To summarise the life of a man such as Anton Mosimann is no easy task. A simple list of his achievements provides little insight into his human qualities, nor does it convey his overwhelming passion for food. In The Art of Mosimann, one of the 15 books he has written, he says, "The chef's profession demands a single-minded approach, almost holy devotion." His life's story is the meticulous application of that ideal.

Born on the 23rd Feb 1947, in Solothurn, Switzerland, Anton Mosimann's passion for food was awakened at a young age when he was given his first taste of Emmental cheese. The taste, so new and exciting compared to the usual bland foods of infancy, remains as his first memory and was the trigger that took him forwards into the future as surely as Proust's famous Petit Madeleine was a gateway into the past.

Mosimann decided to become a chef at the age of five, shortly after his parents had opened a restaurant in Nidau, and by the time he was six he was already cooking fondue and spaghetti bolognaise for his friends, both children and adults. He says of those times, "Children have dreams of being a pilot, a train driver. For me there was never a question of becoming anything but a chef."

He began his professional apprenticeship when he was fifteen at the Hotel Baeren in Twann, Switzerland, an experience that taught him not only about the art of cooking but also the meaning of hard work and dedication, habitually toiling six days a week until eleven at night. With dreams of one day buying a sports car spurring him on he dedicated himself to his work and his studies, eventually becoming the only candidate from his area to pass that year's Diplôme de Cuisinier examination. By the time he was eighteen he also had a brand new Triumph Spitfire.

(His passion for cars has continued to this day and has seen him take part in many classic car rallies. These include the 2007 Borghese Memorial from Peking to Paris, where he took the wheel of a Triumph TR4.)

From the Palace Hotel in Villars he moved to the Cavalieri Hilton in Rome, then became a commis saucier in the five-star Waldhaus hotel in Sils-Maria, Switzerland. This was followed by three years in Canada where, aged just 21, he was placed in charge of the 165 cooks at a banquet for 5000 diners. This was followed by more time in Switzerland and a post in Osaka, where he was head chef at the Swiss Pavilion for the Expo 70 world fair, an experience that was to later influence his Cuisine Naturelle. To this day, if asked what his favourite cuisine is, his answer will be, "I'd probably say all, but if it came to the crunch it would be Japanese."

He continued to work and study hard and, aged just 25, became the youngest ever person to gain their Chef de Cuisine Diplôme. In 1975 he moved to the Dorchester Hotel in London and in November 1976 become the Hotel's Maitre Chef de Cuisines. He was just 28, again youngest ever person to be given this role.

Anton's Mosimann's interest in and understanding of people came to the fore at the Dorchester, as it rapidly became clear that many of the 132 chefs under his command, some with 40 years experience, did not appreciate having a 28 year-old in charge of them. His response was to shake hands with every member of the brigade each morning, discovering their problems and learning the names of their families. He eventually won their trust and showed a similar degree of care when dealing with the new apprentices, aiming to become their 'culinary father'.

This respect for others has guided his leadership to this day. In an industry where bad-tempered chefs are almost a norm, Anton Mosimann's credo is "No shouting, no screaming, no swearing and no throwing pots around. I don't believe in it. I believe in talking and listening. There should be a friendly, motivational atmosphere in the kitchen."

Mosimann was to spend 13 years at the Dorchester, and in his time he revolutionised the standard of the food. He has said that, when he started at the Dorchester, "Food was often cooked the day before. It was reheated. Lamb went in the oven at five o'clock in the morning. By the evening it was an unhappy-looking lamb." Under his guidance the restaurant eventually won two Michelin stars, the first time two stars had been awarded to a hotel restaurant outside of France. The new standards he set reverberated throughout the industry, helping to raise the standard of food in hotels and restaurants across the whole of the United Kingdom.

His time at the Dorchester also saw Anton Mosimann contribute what is possibly his greatest gift to the culinary arts, his Cuisine Naturelle, influenced by Japanese cooking and based on the philosophy that 'good food' can also be 'good for you'. As detailed in the 1985 book of the same name, Cuisine Naturelle uses no butter, cream or alcohol and a reduced amount of salt and sugar, with the fresh wholesome ingredients being lightly cooked. The impact of Cuisine Naturelle has been such that it inspired Loyd Grossman, the American-British gastronome and television presenter to say, "The history of food in Britain divides neatly into two periods - before Mosimann and after Mosimann."

Nineteen eighty-five was also the year of Mosimann's first major television appearance in the United Kingdom, a 'Food and Drink' special, broadcast by the BBC in 1985, entitled 'Anton Goes to Sheffield'. This has been called a benchmark programme for its role in bringing a 'new wave of celebrity chefs' to the public. In the programme Mosimann visited a council house to cook the family a Sunday lunch on a budget of £10, demonstrating that even the less affluent can still enjoy great food. 'Anton goes to Sheffield' was later followed up by two television series in the UK. 'Cooking with Mosimann', which was broadcast in 1990, whilst 'Anton Mosimann - Naturally' ran from 1991 to 1992. Anton Mosimann was also co-presenter for the series 'My Favourite Nosh', which ran on the BBC network in 1996.

Mosimann's public profile in the UK is such that, in 2007, Britain's Independent Television company (ITV) named him as being one of the nation's six 'iconic' chefs.

Anton Mosimann has also had his own television series in Switzerland, Natürlich, Leichtes Kochen in 1997 and 'Mosimann’s Culinary Switzerland', which was broadcast in 1998.

The next major milestone in Mosimann's life was to be the opening of Mosimann's, a private dining club in Belgravia, located in a former Presbyterian Church. After extensive refurbishment this opened in October 1989 and soon became a favourite with high society and gastronomists.

Mosimann’s Party Service started business in 1990, offering outside catering services of the highest quality. This was followed, in 1996, by the opening of the Mosimann Academy of Culinary Excellence. Again these ventures were a great success and in 2000 Mosimann's Party Service received the Royal Warrant of appointment from HRH The Prince of Wales for catering.

The growth of his culinary empire and reputation was reflected in a growing list of awards and honours including Restaurateur of the Year in the year 2000, The Order of the British Empire in January 2004 and Officer of the French L’ordre ministériel du Mérite agricole Ordre in 2006.

Anton Mosimann has become the favourite chef of Royalty and heads of state the world over. He has cooked for 5 British Prime Ministers and 4 American Presidents and has provided catering services at both the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. In April 2011 he provided the wedding banquet for HRH Prince William and Catherine Middleton at Buckingham Palace. This was followed up, on the 18th May, 2012, with a lunch for 21 visiting sovereigns as part of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

Despite his huge success and international reputation as one of the greatest chefs of the age, Anton Mosimann has never forgotten his roots or those he met along the way, with his life's credo being to, "appreciate the good things… but not to forget or look down on those who were less fortunate."

Most of all, Anton Mosimann has always regarded his cooking as being just another expression of his determination to live life to the full. As he makes clear in his introduction to Cuisine Naturelle, "My philosophies of food and life are the same. Both should be experiences of happiness, serenity and joyful giving."

Anton Mosimann: selected awards and honours

  • 1985.Cateys Chef of the year. (United Kingdom.)
  • 1988.Chevalier L’ordre ministériel du Mérite agricole. (French Ministry of Agriculture.)
  • 1988.Honorary Doctorate of Culinary Arts from Johnson and Wales University, Rhode Island, USA.
  • 1999.Granted the Freedom of the City of London.
  • 2000.Awarded the title 'Restaurateur of the Year' by the International Food and Beverage Forum, Rhode Island, USA.
  • 2000.Granted a Royal Warrant of appointment to HRH The Prince of Wales for Catering Services.
  • 2004.Awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by H.M. The Queen in recognition of his contribution to the catering industry.
  • 2004.Catering Industry's Lifetime Achievement Award. (United Kingdom.)
  • 2006.Officer, L’ordre ministériel du Mérite agricole. (French Ministry of Agriculture.)
  • 2006.President of the Royal Warrant Holders’ Association.
  • 2007.Identified as being one of the UK’s six most iconic chefs by ITV's 'This Morning' Programme.
  • 2008.Honorary member of the Cercle des Chefs de Cuisine in Berne, Switzerland.
  • 2008.Became a member of the Club Chefs des Chefs. (This is 'The most exclusive gastronomic association in the world' as only those who cater for heads of state are eligible for membership.)
  • 2008.Made an honorary member of the World Association of Chefs Societies. (Based in France this is a non-political professional organization that is 'dedicated to maintaining and improving the culinary standards of global cuisines'.)
  • 2011.Appointed Deputy Lieutenant of Greater London.
  • 2013.Carl-Freidrich von Rumohr Lifetime achievement award from the Gastronomische Akademie Deutschlands e.V
  • 2016.Hotelympia Hall of Fame Lifetime Achievement Award.
  • 2016.Honorary certificate of merit. La Guilde suisse des Restaurateurs-Cuisiniers.
    Honorary Member of the Federation Cuisinier Exclusive D’Europe in Vienna.
    Entries in Who’s Who, International Who’s Who and Debrett's.

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