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  • Bauer Jura 16

    From the farm to the table

    on the tracks to find the best beef

  • Bauer Jura 41

    From the farm to the table

    on the tracks to find the best beef

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  • Bauer Jura 65

    From the farm to the table

    on the tracks to find the best beef

  • Bauer Jura 79

    From the farm to the table

    on the tracks to find the best beef

  • Metzger Jura 31

    From the farm to the table

    on the tracks to find the best beef

  • Metzger Jura 59

    From the farm to the table

    on the tracks to find the best beef

  • Metzger Jura 63

    From the farm to the table

    on the tracks to find the best beef

This is the story of two hoteliers from Zurich who set off to find the best beef. They ended up in the Jura Mountains, where the Wenger family from The Living Circle’s mountain farm in Vermes teams up with young butcher Stéphane Oester from Grandval.

Thyme perhaps, meadow sage, watercress and black mustard? No, we are not talking about the spices and herbs used by the cooks at the Castello del Sole in Ascona and the Storchen in Zurich. This is what fills the stomachs of a herd of beef cattle owned by organic farmer Florian Wenger at his farm high above Vermes in the Canton of Bern. The meadows here seem to go on forever, vanishing in the distance between rocks and forests. Cyrille Anizan and Jörg Arnold are standing in the middle of these meadows, watching the cows with their calves.

Lost for words at first, then increasingly enthusiastic at what he is witnessing, the chef de cuisine of the Storchen says to the general manager: “This is it!” They have found what they were looking for — and that is not something you find everywhere: “We don’t make compromises when it comes to breeding, quality and purity. We owe that to our guests,” explains Arnold. Not industrial livestock farming but a family business, in other words. Cows that feed not on maize or soybean meal from South America, but on grass, flowers and herbs from the meadows of the Jura Mountains. Not turbo-cows, but a herd of Simmental cattle that are kept outdoors in the fresh air all year round. Simply natural.

The young animals don’t only eat grass and herbs, however. “They are
suckled by their mothers until they are around 10 months old”, the organic
farmer says, tickling his favourite cow, Orense, a naturally polled breed.
When they reach that age, they are weaned naturally and taken to Stéphane
Oester, a butcher in the village of Grandval in the Canton of Bern, around
30 minutes away. Florian often even takes one or several cows with him:
“When a cow is separated from the herd, it is under stress”, he explains.
“I don’t want to subject the animals to that.” Neither does the butcher.
Stéphane says, “When an animal for slaughter releases stress hormones,
you can forget the quality of the meat. My work as a butcher is then a
complete waste of effort.”

The young butcher attaches great importance to quality: “That’s what makes my job enjoyable.” Stéphane takes his visitors into a designated maturing room, and from there to a very special place — the Banneret Wisard farmhouse. “This chimneyless wooden building has been used for smoking meat since 1535, and I am keeping up this tradition”, he says proudly. By the end of the day, the deal has been done: Four very different men are united in their quest for quality. Florian Wenger supplies the live animals, Stéphane Oester processes them and delivers the whole beast including the bones for sauces and stock to the Castello del Sole and the Storchen. The farmer, the butcher, the chef de cuisine and the general manager shake hands. Just like in former times.

Text: Franz Bamert
Photos: Anna-Tina Eberhard

The Living Circle

The Living Circle – is a hand-picked collection of first-class hotels and restaurants in incomparably beautiful locations, run by dedicated hosts. Rice, vegetables, fruit and a whole array of exquisite products – including wine, of course – is whisked fresh from our own farms directly to your table. That is how we define luxury. That is The Living Circle – luxury hotels fed by nature.