Baking with Head and Heart

Food Issue 182 Jan, 2017
Text by Evangeline Neve

Chef Fredy will soon be heading to his next challenge, in Uzbekistan, but he’s already planning a trip back to Nepal to make sure that his protégés are keeping up a high baking standard. We can’t wait to welcome him back! 

The first time I met Chef Fredy Andermatt, we didn’t have much time to talk. I learned that he was spending four weeks in Nepal, training the Dokaima Café staff in the fine art of pastry and baking. We agreed to meet again soon, and I went home with a loaf of soft, fragrant smelling oat bread, which had a great crumb, and was fantastic with butter and some raspberry jam later that evening. 

Returning the following week, we were treated to fresh, hot pizza right out of the oven; one with sausages, and the other studded with tuna and anchovies—the latter especially was a salty, tasty treat. The pizzas were extra saucy and juicy, and I think they will be a great addition to Dokhaima’s already excellent menu. Between their well-known mo:mo, salads, sandwiches, and delicious Chinese chicken with chilli, it’s already hard enough to decide what to order when I visit, and knowing this pizza is now part of the line up has just made it that much harder. If you love anchovies as I do, make sure to request them on your pizza when you visit. They were just so good!

After devouring the pizzas, we then enjoyed a tete-a-tete with Chef Fredy. You might not think that bakers lead adventurous lives, but his CV would prove you wrong. 

Born 40 km outside Zurich, he began his apprenticeship in 1975, and has been working all over the world ever since; Nepal is country number 162 that he has visited, and he’s worked in 60 of those. His career has taken him not just to many countries, but also to the world’s oceans—for years, he was head of the corporate pastry division of Carnival Cruise Lines, and responsible for the baking on 23 cruise ships at any one time. In 1995, he was even awarded the title of ‘Chef of the Year of all Cruise Ships Worldwide’! 

These days, however, he is using his time in a truly innovative way—instead of retiring, he is participating in a project organized by the German government that pairs up professionals with those who can best benefit from their knowledge, training, and expertise. It’s a simple but powerful idea that involves sharing not resources, but knowledge. And it works.

When I asked Chef Fredy how he’d found his time here so far, he said it has been successful, but that the true test will come after he leaves. In these four weeks, he has been training the staff every day in the finer points of preparing various kinds of bread, pastries, cakes, cookies, and baked goods of all kinds. It’s a lot of knowledge to pass on in not a lot of time, and the vast experience that he has honed over a lifetime can’t just be picked up in a few days. But, from what I saw, it really did seem that the staff at Dokhaima had been working hard to learn all they could. Krinit Syangden, a hospitality management graduate, and one of the young people working under Chef Fredy, told me what a great experience it has been to work with someone who has such a vast amount of knowledge and experience. It’s really been an amazing learning adventure for all involved, and I can only believe that it will be a great addition to Kathmandu Valley’s bakery scene. And, while Chef Fredy’s care and meticulousness is clearly evidenced in his work, so too is his heart and concern to make sure others are learning, and that the end product is the best it can be. 

On Friday, November 18, the day before he was to leave to Nepal, there was a special event at the Dokhaima Café to showcase some of his and the staff’s tasty creations. Wine in hand, we moved from table to table, tasting sausage rolls, onion focaccia, chicken and salami sandwiches on delicious fresh-baked baguette slices, and so much more that it was impossible to taste it all. Chef Fredy presided over the evening’s events, pointing everyone in the direction of more and more goodies, even when our stomachs were too full for a single bite more. All the while, he regaled us with tales from his adventurous life and career working all around the world; turns out he’s not only an excellent baker, but fun to hang out with, too. 

Chef Fredy will soon be heading to his next challenge, in Uzbekistan, but he’s already planning a trip back to Nepal to make sure that his protégés are keeping up a high baking standard. We can’t wait to welcome him back! And when you’re next at the Dokhaima Café, make sure to check out their shelf of daily fresh baked goods for something to take home with you. You’ll be glad that you did!