In the kitchen of Dominik Hartmann

30 years old, 17 Gault Millau points, 2 Michelin stars. These are the lucky numbers of Dominik Hartmann, enfant prodige of the new Swiss fine-dining scene. In 2022, his restaurant Magdalena in Rickenbach shifted to vegetarian cuisine — it was the first two-star restaurant in Europe to do so. The original menu is “raw, rough and regional”, but there’s no need to check the calendar to experience his pride and joy: bread is made every day.

When and how did you start your career? 

I started in 2008 in a small restaurant near Rickenbach. I was 16. I did my apprenticeship there for three years, then I worked in the pastry section of a ski resort restaurant. After that, I went to Schloss Schauenstein to work with Andreas Caminada. Then I was in Zurich with Fabian Fuchs, at EquiTable, a one-star Michelin restaurant with 17 Gault Millau points: there were just the two of us in the kitchen. And finally, in 2020 we opened the Magdalena.

Which is in your hometown, Rickenbach: do you feel attached to the place where you grew up? 

Yes. It was really nice to come back home. Plus, we know a lot of people here, especially local suppliers.

When you had to choose a place for your restaurant, you took over an old tavern and completely rebuilt it. What did you have in mind when you started the reconstruction?  

I like the view of lakes and mountains, so there are big windows. I also like Nordic design, which is very essential and focused on small details. And I like concrete, but in the end we decided to keep some wooden elements from the previous restaurant.

What kind of atmosphere do you want to create in your restaurant? 

I like it when the guests feel at home. There are few tables and everything is curated. In the background, there is a playlist of soft techno-electronic music.

You work together with your wife and your best friend from school. What is it like to work with family? 

It’s nice to work with people you like. We enjoy our time at work, help each other, have fun. Even in the kitchen, I like it when there is a good atmosphere: ​​the staff is made up of young people, and we do things together even on our days off, so sometimes it doesn’t even feel like being at work.

Dominik Hartmann was born and raised in Rickenbach, near Schwyz. This is also where he runs the restaurant Magdalena, together with his wife Adriana Hartmann and his friend Marco Appert. A trained pastry chef and confectioner, he refined his skills with top Swiss chefs Andreas Caminada and Fabian Fuchs. In 2021, aged 29, he was awarded 17 points by Gault Millau whilst the Michelin Guide awarded his restaurant two stars, just eight months after its opening.

How do you juggle work and your private life? 

I think we found a good compromise: we work four days and have three days off. It’s vital to have enough time to be with the kids, meet friends, go out to discover new restaurants and bars. Also doing sports is essential, I go kite surfing at the lake and I’ve noticed it’s really good for my well-being to spend time in nature.

What do you cook when you are home?  

Easy things, like pasta with a good tomato sauce, which is one of my favorite dishes. The kids love it as well.  

Why did you decide to change to vegetarian cuisine?  

Since the beginning we decided to focus on vegetarian cuisine. In fact, we only had two non-vegetarian courses. After some time we introduced a nice mushroom dish and then a parsnip millefeuilles, and we all agreed they were much better than the non-vegetarian courses. And here we are! I think it’s much more interesting to work with vegetables and vegetarian produce. 

How did your clients react to that?  

Some guests are surprised when they realise that the main course only has vegetables on it. But I must admit they are very open minded and like our concept. 

You do a lot of research into fermented vegetables and fruit. What is it that you find interesting about that?  

I think they can bring more power and depth to the dish. We put a little bit of fermented vegetable juice in sauces or dishes to add saltiness or sourness, or just more complexity. It’s very interesting for me to bring these flavours into our kitchen. I learned how to manage fermentation while working in Zurich. Then I read the fermentation book by the Noma guys [The Noma Guide to Fermentation, by David Zilber and René Redzepi, 2018], but mostly it is just learning by doing: sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but it’s always interesting.

What is the fermented product you are most proud of? 

A fermented tomato juice with a little bit of raspberry and basil inside. It’s really tasty. We created a summer dish based on that.  

You also do research into bakery and pastry: when and why did you decide to open a bakery? 

Bread and pastry is where I started. In the restaurant we always serve the Magdalena bread: we make it ourselves with sourdough and mountain potatoes from the Albula valley. The guests liked it so much that we decided to open a pop-up serving bread and croissants. I am very inspired by what I see on Instagram: I follow a lot of bakeries based in Copenhagen and pastry chef Cedric Grolet in Paris.  

And what about the wine selection?  

My partner Marco and my wife Adriana take care of that. And the guys from the service are very passionate about it too. We are always looking for new things. At the moment we are interested in natural wines.  

​​​If you had to be famous for a single recipe, what would it be?  

Our bread: it’s really good, crunchy outside and very wet on the inside.

"I like it when there is a good atmosphere: the staff is made up of young people, and we do things together even on our days off, so sometimes it doesn’t even feel like being at work."

What is it like getting two Michelin stars by the age of 30?  

We were really surprised, because we’d just opened eight months before. We were also proud and happy for the whole team, they put so much effort in what they do. When we reopened, after receiving the stars, we felt a lot of pressure because we thought the guests might have higher expectations.  

V-ZUG is your partner in the kitchen: you share a strong commitment to passion and perfection. Which appliances do you have and how do they make your work easier?

We use the Combi-Steamer everyday. It’s perfect. When you bake with this oven, the quality is always the same, always as good, and it’s nice to work with this kind of product.  

What’s on the menu today?  

A lot of vegetables! We have a dish with cabbage, egg yolk and black truffles. One I particularly like is just braised onion with onion broth, a touch of herb oil and onion puree: we don’t like when there are too many flavours in a dish, and this is so simple and tasty. The first course is very fresh, with Jerusalem artichokes, while the main course is beetroot-based, which was our signature dish when we opened — it takes more than 24 hours of preparation. The dessert is made with blood oranges and Swiss chocolate.

There are thousands of fermented products in the world, and every culinary tradition has its peculiar style. From beer and wine to bread, cheese and yoghurt, sauerkraut and kimchi. What they have in common is the  metabolic process they undergo, in which enzymes produce chemical changes in the food molecules, producing a unique — sometimes extraordinary — flavour. Here are Dominik Hartmann’s favourites.


A fizzy, sweet-and-sour drink made with tea, Kombucha is a contemporary classic. It is actually quite simple to make, trying different flavours and combinations to create a nice and refreshing drink. 


In this product, tomato juice and raspberries are simply fermented with salt. Through the fermentation, the juice becomes more intense, and develops a nice fruity and sour note. 


Lemons are fermented with spices and salt. After more or less two weeks in the kitchen or on the wood rack in the restaurant, they rest for some months in the fridge. 


The sourdough for the iconic “Magdi bread” is fermented for 12 hours before making the dough. Then, it rests for 24 hours in the fridge before being baked.

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