The Hiltl family was always ahead of the times in adapting technology. In 1931 it had the first fully electronic kitchen in Zurich. Today, they have a unique social media wall in the restaurant. It allows visitors and Hiltl fans to post about Hiltl on various social media platforms and whoever posts whatever can be seen on that wall inside the restaurant.Indian food is a major focus of Hiltl’s menu.
In fact, Hiltl’s connection with India goes way back to 1951, when Margrith Hiltl, Rolf’s mother, travelled as an official Swiss delegate to Delhi to attend the World Vegetarian Congress in 1951. Not only did she pick up secret recipes from her friends in India but she also became acquainted with Morarji Desai, who would later become India’s Prime Minister. In 1953, Morarji Desai also came to Zurich and ate at Hiltl.
“We don’t filter it, if someone says this food is bad, it shows,” said Rolf.With as many as 30 cooks, and employees from 60 countries you would expect a few from India right? We met Tenzing Thokmui who told us while cooking a dish that he was born and raised in Dharamsala, “where the Dalai Lama is from”.
Walking around the kitchen breathing in the delicacies on offer we found the section that said spices and were pleased to see Garam Masala.
We even tasted a pickle, which Rolf’s grandmother Margrith Hiltl learnt the recipe of from India. To keep the recipe a secret she used to cook it at night.
Rolf now has a food academy named after the great grandparents whose love story gave birth to Hiltl. If you want a one-day class from the world’s best vegetarian masterchefs then you will have to shell out 150 Euros.
In 2018, Rolf is planning a trip to India.
“We are planning to go to the roots of Margrith Hiltl, where she went at the time in 1951 and it will be mainly in Gujarat. We look forward to having some good food,” said Rolf Hiltl.