Ralph Schelling is considered an artist and free spirit of the Swiss culinary scene with world fame. But instead, after various detours into top gastronomy – including with 19-point chef Horst Petermann, Ferran Adrià, Andreas Caminada, in Heston Blumenthal's Fat Duck or the fabulous "Ryugin" in Tokyo – he decided against the logical career step of opening his restaurant.
The main reason: Ralph sees himself as an artist at the stove. "I have many ideas for new dishes and compositions by experimenting with new flavors, so I cook according to my feelings. For this, I need a lot of freedom but also support. Because organizing things is not my best," he laughs. "Especially in hectic situations, I'm grateful to have a team around me that takes care of the organization and administration for catering, as this helps me focus on my creations." At this point, Ralph would especially like to thank Lilly Gygax, who actively supports the Private Chef in his various projects, for example, on Jumby Bay Calabash, a private Caribbean island near Antigua and Barbuda. There you can enjoy his cuisine and his food concept in a private villa.
Gratitude plays a significant role in Ralph's life as a private chef and caterer in the high-quality segment. He sometimes cooks for A-listers such as interior designer Pierre Yovanovitch, film icon and singer Barbara Streisand or the world-famous band Coldplay. The exceptional talent travels the world to do this. But Ralph still doesn't take it for granted: "I'm aware that, thanks to my career, I can do what I enjoy and cook for a clientele that has complete faith in my culinary instincts."
Gratitude and a healthy take on lifestyle
Ralph develops the recipes for such jobs and his column at "Monocle" in the early mornings, preferably. "Although the alarm clock rings at six o'clock every day, I have a bit of trouble getting up at first light," admits the man from St. Gallen. So what helps him get going? "I haven't had access to yoga or similar sports for a long time."
That changed when I encountered the "Five Tibetans" during a job at a resort. It's a mixture of balance and workout exercises that takes 15 minutes." According to followers: inside these physical exercises, the "Five Tibetans" are supposed to activate life energy and promote the basis for health, vitality, creativity, and mental and spiritual well-being. Although such descriptions sound too much like the increasing Healthusiasm-movement for Ralph, he practices the "Five Tibetans" consistently every morning.
Apropos Healthusiasm: Ralph isn't a massive fan of the modern and healthy lifestyle trends you constantly see on social media presented by so-called #healthfluencers. Regardless of whether it's a new form of sport, meditation, or diet: "Basically, I have no problem with healthy, vegetarian, or vegan diets. But what annoys me about the healthy food movement, which is so dominant, is that hardly anyone cares about the origin of so-called healthy foods like chia seeds, goji berries or soy products, or looks into them in detail," he notes.
And he's right about that. After all, who can say with a clear conscience that we have looked into the ingredients and the origin of soy or almond milk before it ends up in our shopping basket? Exactly. We at The Goddess Collective must also take ourselves by the nose.
Local and seasonal ingredients are key
How can we do better? Ralph recommends cooking with local and mainly seasonal foods for a healthy daily routine. For example, granola is good for breakfast. Instead of goji berries – "they mostly come from China," says Ralph – he uses barberry, and instead of chia, he adds flax seeds. His granola is sweetened with honey or birch sugar – both local Swiss ingredients.
In general, Ralph Schelling is concerned about living harmoniously with nature and the seasons. No matter where he is in the world because of his job. That's why he prefers outdoor sports, including jogging or surfing. If there is no other way, Ralph can be found in the gym, but he must constantly motivate himself. Music by Jamie Cullum helps him. Or, after a fresh shower, he perfumes himself with his new favorite fragrance, Ambre Bleue by Ys Uzac. That gives him an instant feel-good kick, Ralph says.
"Fragrances and flavors are one of my great passions." That this also includes coffee is clear. Although Ralph has a coffee machine at home – "I only use it for guests" – he only drinks his coffee out. But that has nothing to do with luxury. On the contrary. "I would never go out otherwise," explains the man from eastern Switzerland, who now lives in Zurich. "That's why I consciously decided not to have a TV." Instead, he prefers to celebrate his mornings in Zurich, after the creation process at his home, reading the newspaper in a coffee shop like La Stanza, "they have excellent coffee", or at Collective Bakery, which, according to Ralph, offers the best croissants in town.
Ralph loves to live in the day, to drift. "I got into the habit of doing that in Spain when I lived and worked there," he says, knowing that it's not possible for everyone. Nevertheless, he would like to urge us all to live more according to the pleasure principle, especially regarding food. So instead of limiting yourself to some crazy diet for the rest of your life, eat pasta and celebrate the dolce vita. The only important thing here is to find the right balance. And that should be possible for all of us, shouldn't it?
This interview has been edited and condensed.
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