Updated: May 18
In ChefLand, you can be part of any number of cliques from the Michelin boys to the food truck guys…or you can be Ralph.
Flown in by helicopter to a client's private island, swimming laps in his own pool before dinner prep on the Matterhorn and teaching Liverpool's footballers how to cook at home, Ralph Schelling's private chef life is everything your head chef told you doesn't exist. How, might you ask, does a humble Swiss chef find himself in such formidable company? The answer: he doesn't care that much. Where others have an agenda in their head in such situations, Ralph has a menu. Really.
An accidental adventurist, Ralph finds himself in situations simply because he wants to see what happens. And he likes to be dressed for the occasion.
Just like his recipes, Ralph's personal style is authentic and in good taste. He follows what he genuinely likes, absorbing the energy and intention. His enthusiasm makes him a magnet for luxury clients looking for an experience but after meeting him, it's his natural curiosity that keeps them coming back. He deflates pretension with his direct questions and boyish charm, challenging even the stiffest subjects not to crack a side smile.
The right people.
He finds the time for what he likes and goes all the way. He cruised around Milan fashion week, sat front row at Mila Schön and even crashed the Dolce party but his priority was catching dinner at Trippa.
Ralph's interests guide him to opportunities and to the people who want to share them.
He lives the place he's in and his excitement draws in the energy around him. It should come as no surprise that he loves to teach as much as he loves to learn, hosting kids and adult workshops in between fixed clients, collaborating with Annabelle magazine in Zurich, and creating his own new magazine, Trip1, in which the opening line says it all: "Wrong Time, Right Place."
Wrong Time, Right Place.
Constantly traveling for work means finding himself in spectacular places, often off-season. The lack of tourists and non-typical climates make sourcing provisions a unique cheffing experience. It's not that the ingredients aren't around, it's finding out what dishes are in season that make things interesting. Fewer tourists means more one-on-one time with locals to learn recipes, and discover spots, and find new ingredients often that are typical but sometimes lesser known for the sake of the season.
A winning personality and good technique.
A protege of Michelin starred chefs Heston Blumenthal and Ferran Adrià, Ralph achieves a rare humility in his dishes that compliments his precise techniques and presentation, a quality that subsequently has him called to cook for the creative elite, among them the Criterion Festival and Stella McCartney.
Clear intention and self-awareness.
Ralph's success marks a trend not just in cheffing, but in a greater sense as luxury clients now expect an authentic experience at every turn. A combination of self-awareness and clear intention allows him to connect with others who are the same. Ralph's resourcefulness isn't limited to finding ingredients but understanding how to connect his various experiences together to form a network and from there, create a brand aptly named, The Ralph Schelling Culinary Network. Not everyone may come out of their gavetta as gracefully as Ralph, and some may have 0% interest in this type of life or chef-hood, but knowing what you want and really doing it wins every time. Curiosity pays, mostly for what you learn and for what you don't. Yesterday's clique is today's tribe, so if you don't see what you like out there, be like Ralph and jump in and create your alias: chef.
Photo by: Sylvan Müller