Bernhard Wyss, Chef’s Department, 1994 to 1995.
I was still in training as a chef when my father told me about Oskar Tschirky. A Swiss expatriate who consorted with celebrities and became famous himself as “Oscar of the Waldorf.” The former hometown of Oskar Tschirky, Weisstannen, is located only a few kilometers from my hometown, Vilters, in the region Sarganserland, east part of Switzerland.
Having gained my first professional experience in Swiss hotels, and after two more years of apprenticeship, I applied to the Waldorf Astoria New York. Persistence, several letters and telephone calls were necessary until I received an acceptance, a prerequisite was also a work permit. At that time there was an exchange program with a work permit of maximum 18 months. Then in January 1994 it went quickly. The work permit was available and had to be started within 30 days.
The first few weeks were challenging. Interviewing chef John Doherty, attending classes that were mandatory before starting work, finding an apartment, “just” arriving in New York.
I can still remember the first days of work very well. A lot of skeptical looks from the head chefs. I had to prove myself as a chef with no USA gastronomy experience. For two to three weeks, I was accompanied by a Dutch chef who had also come to the Waldorf Astoria through an exchange program. I was allowed to go through several kitchens and stations. Main Kitchen, Peacock Ally, Oscar’s, Bull & Bear. As a tournant, I was allowed to take on planned and also unplanned assignments at short notice. I was able to assist with banquets on a regular basis. The experience at the Waldorf Astoria has always remained in my memory.
I have remained professionally loyal to gastronomy. When I look at my professional career, I would follow the same path again, I would want to go through the same stations again, especially the Waldorf-Astoria. The time in New York and at the Waldorf Astoria have shaped me personally and professionally. I am very grateful for this experience.