Gastronomers with passion
Karin Thurnheer (formerly Bloch) continues a very long family tradition. She is the first of the fifth generation of Bloch to work as an independent entrepreneur in the catering trade. A look back.
It all started with Josef Büchel. He was a postman by profession and bought the "Gasthaus zur Krone" in Rüthi in the Rhine valley of St.Gallen shortly after the turn of the century. Seppli ran the house for several years as a postmaster and innkeeper. His daughter Rösli, who was born in 1892, initially made no attempt to continue her parents' business. In 1917, she married her childhood sweetheart, the cantonal cultural engineer Alfred Bloch from Uri, and left the Rhine Valley. If it had not suffered a terrible fate in the high summer of 1927, it would probably have remained with a single generation: Rösli's husband Alfred died at the end of August at the age of 49. She suddenly found herself alone with two small children and some money. It is thanks to Rösli Bloch-Büchel's love for his guests that the gastronomy continued. She returned to the Rhine Valley with her two boys Otto and Ernstli and brought the "Gasthaus zur Krone", which had since been sold, back into family ownership.
Especially the one boy, Otto, was taken with the hotel and restaurant industry. It was clear to him early on that he wanted to become a chef. Shortly after his apprenticeship he met Maria Elisabeth Baumgartner, also a genuine Rhine Valley woman. Otto and Mary ran numerous inns together. Her stops were the restaurants "Bodan" and "Gübsensee" in St.Gallen, the "Derby" in Bad Ragaz, the "Schrina Hochrugg" in Walenstadtberg and finally the "Ochsen", also popularly called "BLOCHsen", in Walenstadt. In the meantime, the two guests from half of Switzerland entertained half of the Principality of Liechtenstein with their top gastronomy. Otto's speciality were fish dishes of all kinds. His "Grosse Walenseerundfahrt", variously prepared fish variations, were widely known - as was his legendary "Serbian bean soup". The recipe for the famous "fish crunchies" also goes back to him. Otto and Mary Bloch-Baumgartner were the ones who took the step from simple to sophisticated gastronomy within the family. Mary often quoted Honoré de Balzac's motto: "Bread and water satisfy everyone's hunger, but our culture has invented gastronomy. No one has ever proved otherwise.
Mary gave birth to six children, two boys and four girls. It was the boys Rico and Fredi who were drawn to gastronomy from the very beginning. Rico Bloch did his apprenticeship in the stately "Schloss Oberberg" in Gossau (SG), his brother Fredi in "Sternen" in Teufen (AR). During his years of apprenticeship and travel Rico met Miss Brigitte Aeby. The two worked at a young age in St-Blaise (NE), he in "Au Boccalino", they just next door in the "Tea Room Walker", where she wanted to stay for a short time after finishing business school. The man from Eastern Switzerland and the woman from Basel exchanged their first glances in love via kitchen windows. As a married couple they ran the restaurants of the "Sportzentrum Glarner Unterland" in Näfels (GL), later the "Säntis" inns on Schwägalp (AR) and the "Sternen" in Teufen (AR). In 1999 Brigitte took over the "Metropol" in St.Gallen, Rico followed her shortly afterwards. For example, Brigitte was the first woman in Appenzell to obtain the federal "Maître d'Hôtel" diploma, and they were happy to train young chefs and service specialists. They reinvented themselves and their philosophy approximately every ten years. Until autumn 2019, they took care of their (tentatively?) last bigger project: the beautifully renovated "Hirschen" in Teufen (AR).
Fredi Bloch, Rico's brother, led the "Seeli" in Bäch (SZ) for decades and the "Obstgarten" in Freienbach (SZ). In addition to the top gastronomic establishments, he built up an impressive catering empire. The two families - whether in eastern Switzerland or on Lake Zurich - were and are always closely connected.
Since 1 January 2010, another full-blooded gastronomer has been carrying on the decades-long family tradition: Karin Thurnheer Bloch, who completed her post-graduate studies in hotel management after completing her business school in Neuchâtel and the hotel management school in Zurich, worked in her professional career at the renowned Romantik-Hotel Säntis in Appenzell and the Hotel Hof Weissbad, where she first worked as a seminar leader and finally as personnel manager.