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  • Words Alia Akkam
  • Images Daniel Lober

Mushroom season in the Swiss Alps typically kicks off in early September, and that’s when the kitchen team at The Cambrian’s Bryn Williams restaurant, led by Chef Will Gordon, embarks on biweekly fungi foraging expeditions in the mountains to create a special dish for their menu that celebrates the local environs.

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Secret location Where the team hunts for forest treasures

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The Alpine forest at daybreak Will Gordon and his team foraging for their seasonal menu

Following a 6 a.m. wake-up call, they head to a location kept secret from the public, hot coffee in hand, and spend the morning breathing in the fresh forest air and hunting for treasures including chanterelles, porcini, and boletes. “Normally, we set out before the sun rises and arrive just as it does—a sight that is definitely worth getting up early for,” explains Gordon.

“Normally, we set out before the sun rises and arrive just as it does—a sight that is definitely worth getting up early for.

Chef Will Gordon

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Local fungi Foraged by the kitchen team at The Cambrian

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Russula xerampelina Roter Heringstäubling found in the area

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Marasmius oreades Nelkenschwindling is used in a signature dish

After they return to the restaurant with a hopefully bountiful haul, they sit down to a staff lunch made with some of the wild mushrooms before prepping an elaborate umami-rich dish that is an autumnal favorite among guests. It features the mushrooms prepared in a variety of ways, as a stock and ragu with a smoked-oak emulsion, and soy sauce, ponzu, onion, and rice vinegar accents.

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07A The Cambrian Mushroom Foraging
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An autumnal favorite An umami-rich dish with forest fungi

Gordon and his colleagues also bring back pine sprigs from these mountain excursions, which they dry and use in a rub for fresh whole salmon that hails from the nearby Lake Blausee, or Lake Zurich, some two hours away by train. Fresh pine is incorporated into the dish as well, as is a coconut cream velouté with yuzu and sunchokes grown in the garden of a long-serving member of the kitchen crew who resides by another nearby lake, Thun.

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Oeschinen Lake Nearby is one of the biggest mountain lakes in Switzerland

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For the chefs at The Cambrian, creating a menu based around the fruits of the local landscape is key to continued learning about the bounty and balance of the region.

For the chefs at The Cambrian, creating a menu based around the fruits of the local landscape is key to continued learning about the bounty and balance of the region. It is also a way in which they can share this knowledge, developed out of a close relationship with the land, with their guests.

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Autumnal wild blueberries Make their way into the evening’s Swiss cheesecake dessert

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A Swiss cheesecake With brie by local cheesemaker, foraged wild berries, and wood sorrel

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DHB22 Culture Journal Blurb Min

Taste and Place: The Design Hotels Book is a broad and inclusive exploration of food, an integral part of purposeful travel. In our most ambitious book yet, we have called upon leading writers, photographers, creative chefs, and culinary innovators to delve into forward-looking ideas and inspiring practices around food through our hotels, destinations, and larger community. The online sale profits from this year’s book will go to humanitarian aid actions suggested by our two Ukrainian member hotels.

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