In 2015, “La Liste” published a list of the world’s best restaurants. The Restaurant de l’Hôtel de Ville, in Crissier, near Lausanne, in Switzerland, grabbed the number one spot. A remarkable achievement. The restaurant still ranked number one.
Then in early 2016, tragedy struck. The restaurant’s star chef, Benoît Violier, was found dead. He was supposed to be in Paris for the launch of the 2016 Michelin Guide but never arrived. Later it was discovered that Violier, a keen hunter, had taken his own life with a hunting rifle.
After Benoît Violier’s death, the remaining team, including his wife Brigitte Violier, and second in command, Franck Giovannini, decided to forge on and try to maintain the restaurant’s world-class status.
The 2017 Michelin Guide, recently confirmed their success by maintaining the restaurant’s three star rating, a distinction awarded to only around a hundred restaurants globally.
The restaurant, which serves classic French food, has a long had a reputation for world class dining, and has held three Michelin stars since 1998. The 2017 guide describes the food as “toujours magistrales”.
Dining there costs from CHF 174 to CHF 380.
Giovannini is the fourth of the restaurant’s chefs to gain Michelin’s highest seal of approval, along with Benoît Violier, and former culinary stars Frédy Girardet and Philippe Rochat who both ran the restaurant.
Giovannini told local newspaper 24 Heures: “It’s great for the team who worked so hard this year. We are continuing an adventure that has made us the first restaurant in the world to maintain three stars through a succession of four chefs. It’s amazing. Of course we don’t work to please guides, but it is encouraging. It is incredible how many diners stuck with us despite the death of Benoît. Bookings are at the same level as last year.”
Franck Giovannini started his training at the Auberge de la Couronne, in Vaud, Switzerland, in 1993. Then after working in Canada and New York, in Gray Kunz’s kitchen, he returned to Switzerland in 1995 to work under Frédy Girardet at the Restaurant de l’Hôtel de Ville. In 1996, he met Benoît Violier and they became good friends. In 1999 and 2000 he worked as a sous-chef at the Stonehedge Inn Restaurant, in Massachussetts. Then in 2000, on a visit to Switzerland, his friend Benoît Violier, convinced him to come and work as his sous-chef at the Restaurant de l’Hôtel de Ville, where he has been ever since.
The same three Swiss restaurants that made the three-star list in 2016, complete the list in the 2017 guide: The Restaurant de l’Hôtel de Ville, Schloss Schauenstein in Graubünden, and the Cheval Blanc in Basel all kept Michelin’s most coveted status.
With 117 Michelin starred restaurants, Switzerland maintains its position as the nation with the highest number of Michelin-starred restaurants per capita.