A competition celebrating the quality and diversity of local Swiss food products
The seventh edition of the Swiss competition of local food products will be held at the end of September in the Jura, providing the public with an opportunity to discover the different cantonal delicacies and mingle with the people whose passion and craft lies behind these treats.
On the weekend of 30 September to 1 October, 185 Swiss producers will gather at Courtemelon, near Delémont, to participate in the seventh Swiss competition of local food products. The event consists of tastings followed by a medal ceremony, where the awards are decided by a jury of gastronomic specialists.
It was launched in 2005 and is held every two years under the auspices of the Interjurassian Rural Foundation, and located at the foundation’s agricultural school. Between 15,000 and 20,000 visitors are expected to attend this year, with Alsace and Canton Aargau as the guests of honour. Visitors to the competition will find the usual Alsatian fare, plus carrot cake, Zofingen mustard and little Spanish rolls, which are all Argovian specialities.
There will be over 1,260 products on display submitted by 536 participants coming from all over Switzerland. Below is a snapshot of five producers who will be at the competition, each representing one of the five competition categories (bakery-pastry, dairy products, meat, fruit and vegetables, alcohol).
'Tonneaux d'alpage' cheese by François Briggen
Every year, cheesemaker François Briggen spends the summer months at Fruitières de Nyon alpine chalet, with its panoramic views from an altitude of 1,333 metres, located above Givrine (Canton Vaud). His days up there start by milking 140 cows at 4:00am. It takes an early riser to see the cheesemaker at work! François Briggen and his team produce Gruyère d’Alpage AOP, Raclette and Tonneaux d’alpage cheeses. The latter is his speciality and competition entry. “It's a semi-hard cheese I invented and I managed to win a silver medal with it at the World Cheese Awards in 2012.” The cheese producer aims to raise his profile through this type of event. “It’s not just about the production, you also have to sell the cheese.” François Briggen sells his produce directly from his alpine chalet and through the Laiteries Réunies dairy.
Gingerbread: Biber cakes by the Leibacher brothers
It all started when Claudio Leibacher acquired a collection of traditional Biber moulds from a bakery in Appenzell. The moulds enable the imprinting of well-known images and motifs from cantonal folklore into the cakes.
The young man then decided he wanted to produce his own Biber: gingerbread cakes with a filling and normally associated with Appenzell, his grandfather’s canton. After finishing his history studies, he thus changed direction and became an apprentice baker. Having gained work experience in a number of bakeries, Claudio Leibacher obtained his pastry baker diploma at the age of 28. Claudio now makes his Bibers in Wermatswil, Canton Zurich with his brother Silvan, who is in charge of sales and marketing. Leibacher Biber-Manufaktur, as the business is known, will present two products at the competition: the traditional Biber cake with forest honey, almonds and a touch of lemon peel, plus the vegan version (without honey).
Glarus veal sausage by the butcher Kern
Kern butcher’s shop in Canton Glarus is an institution going back over 100 years. The fourth generation, represented by Urs and Dunja Kern-Enzler, is keeping up the family tradition. One of their specialities is Glarner Kalberwurst (Glarus veal sausage), which has a PGI (protected geographical indication) label. This roasted sausage is synonymous with the canton and made from veal, pork and milk. Its distinguishing feature is that it is the only Swiss sausage to contain white bread and to have obtained an exemption to do so. Its PGI status guarantees that the meat is Swiss and that it is produced in Canton Glarus. This sausage is Kern’s entry for the competition. “It’s very much a regional sausage with a long history,” explains Urs Kern, who faithfully follows his great grandfather's recipe. He hopes to spread his product's reputation among the French-speaking Swiss. The butcher’s other specialities – all regional – include Glarus salami, Glarus Schüblig sausage and smoked Cervelat.
Eddy Cassolato's Ticino mountain honey
Having spent years keeping hives as an amateur beekeeper, Eddy Cassolato decided in 2016 to make his living from beekeeping. Eddy Cassolato, who is of Italian origin, has always been passionate about agriculture and the mountains. He keeps 150 hives in Ticino's Leventina valley in a mountainous area, home to some distinctive flora reminiscent of the “Miele millefiori di montagna” (which translates as mountain honey of a thousand flowers) that he makes by hand.
His bees forage among different types of plant: dandelions in spring, rhododendrons high up the mountains and chestnut and lime flowers at mid-altitude. As a result, the producer can make two types of honey, one of which – “con tiglio e castagna” (lime and chestnut) - is based on those two plants. This is Mr Cassolato's first time in the competition and he will submit both types of honey.
Öufi, Alex Künzle's Solothurn beer
The Solothurn brewery Öufi was started in 2000 by Alex Künzle, with the support of his sons Moritz and Florian. Its name in Swiss German comes from Solothurn’s favourite number, which is eleven. The Künzle family produce in the region of forty beers, supplied mainly in kegs. They also offer a selection of four bottled beers. The Solothurn brewery’s blonde, white and dark beers are prepared in small quantities.
Alex Künzle and his team produce 5,000 hectolitres every year. It's the first appearance for this brewer at the competition and its submission is the “Öufi Sudfuss”. Why this particular beer? “The distinguishing feature of this lager is that it comprises ingredients from the area, which is what they are looking for in this competition,” explains Mr Künzle.
The Swiss competition of local food products will take place from Saturday 30 September to Sunday 1 October at Courtemelon. Entrance fee: 12 francs (including tastings).