Imagine the laughs you’d receive after telling your school-teacher you planned to devote your life traveling throughout the world with the primary purpose of tasting and touring chocolate and pastry shops. Well…with a bit (or a lot!) of passion, hard work and courage, Food & Travel Writer and Photographer, Kerrin Rousset has turned this fairy-tale career into reality with the launch of her blog, MyKugelhopf and Sweet Zurich Tours. A dream job we can’t help but be envious of.
Last week, ironically over a glass of freshly squeezed juice, (maybe we were dreaming of a nice warm cup of hot chocolate!) Zuri Girl and Kerrin Rousset had an opportunity to talk about the “sweeter” parts of life.
ZuriGirl: What’s a day in the life of Kerrin Rousset like?
Kerrin Rousset: Each day is different and that’s what I love so much about it. My days vary tremendously and might include hosting tours… learning from local market vendors…visiting villages outside Zurich…traveling abroad…translating cookbooks …researching articles (Kerrin has written for magazines such as Condé Nast Traveler, Food & Wine). I can easily spend countless days discussing (and tasting) sweets and countless nights writing about my findings.
ZuriGirl: Tell us about Sweet Zurich Tours
Kerrin Rousset: Over about 2.5 hours, I guide groups of 2 – 6 people on tours of the tastiest sweet and chocolate shops in Zurich’s old town. Each tour is different based on the group. For the most part, the shops we visit are the same each time, but the conversation varies based on who is on the tour, how much they already know and what type of experience they are yearning for. I have had groups from sweet experts to a couple who did not like chocolate at all, so it really varies and that’s part of the fun – customizing the experience to fit the group.
ZuriGirl: How do you select the shops you visit?
Kerrin Rousset: That was quite natural, as I discovered a handful of top quality artisans over the years and have developed strong relationships with them. I am passionate about those who are passionate about their business. I love to showcase the smaller, off the beaten path shops that carry goods you can’t find elsewhere in the city or even sometimes in the country. Of course, if you have never been to Zurich, Sprüngli is a “must see”, but you already know that. I take you to the “must see’s” that you don’t even realize are “must see’s”. I love the small shops, not in the guide-books, where the bakers genuinely love baking and the owners are eager to show off their treasures.
ZuriGirl: Do the shop keepers know you are coming?
Kerrin Rousset: Of course! They are always welcoming and excited to chat and tell us what’s new. Sometimes we are the only people in the shop, so it makes for an intimate and unique exchange. We may even get a glimpse at the artisans decorating cakes or making fresh pastries.
ZuriGirl: What do you hope people gain from your Sweet Tours?
Kerrin Rousset: I hope they will visit Zurich in a different way, visiting places they may not have gone to on their own, or at least have a lively interaction there that they may not have had otherwise. I get such a thrill when Zurich residents discover a shop they never knew existed either. I love watching people look at sweets in a different light and ask tons of questions too. I hope that from now on, they’ll continue to look at sweets, especially chocolate, in a whole new way and appreciate it more.
ZuriGirl: “Hungry” for more following one of your tours, what are fun, educational ways to learn about sweets?
- Outside Zurich: The Maison Cailler Chocolaterie, Switzerland’s oldest chocolate factory, located a little over 2 hours from Zurich, is a real learning experience. It features a historical tour and shares the insides of a working factory, showcasing how products are made and packaged.
- Within Zurich: Attend markets and exhibitions, such as the recent Slow Food Market. Or try a workshop with Curious Courses or one of the local businesses.
- General: Taste, taste, taste. Sweets are so diverse and to really understand and appreciate what you like takes years of tasting. (Wow, that’s a New Year’s resolution Zuri Girl can stick to!)
ZuriGirl: How does Swiss Chocolate differ from other chocolate – is it all hype or is it as special as the Swiss make it out to be?
Kerrin Rousset: Well, it is slightly ingrained in our brains that Swiss chocolate is delicious. When people think of Switzerland, they think cheese, watches and chocolate – it has been like that for years, especially milk chocolate. And there is validity in the reputation. Switzerland is home to one of the very best chocolate manufacturers, Felchlin, and has a long history of chocolate greats, such as Confiserie Sprüngli. I also find that Switzerland has a very good quality of chocolate production , at an industrial level. These products use fresh, local ingredients and maintain that high quality – Lindt, Cailler and even the COOP chocolate taste good, which in other countries, often when you taste more general brands with mass production, the quality goes down. (That is true for most of Switzerland though – overall production quality is high regardless of the name brand).
Of course, this question could raise a debate and hours of conversation as many will argue that Belgium and France are better quality. (Guess we will have to try them all to find out for ourselves!)
ZuriGirl: What should someone look for when purchasing sweets as a gift?
Kerrin Rousset: Sweets are all about personal preference and much more important than the price or name- brand is what the person likes. When bringing chocolate to family members or friends abroad, it’s nice to purchase something only found in Zurich, that makes it extra special. (Of course, you will have to join the Sweet Tours to find out where these locations are).
ZuriGirl: What surprised you most when deciding to devote your life to sweets and chocolate?
Kerrin Rousset: There’s always something to learn. It is a world into which you can keep digging deeper and deeper. There are over 600 flavors and aromas in cacao, new taste sensations to be had all the time and just so many places to explore…
ZuriGirl: What’s Next? Will life always be a box of chocolate?
Kerrin Rousset: Sweet Zurich tours have gone west! Starting this month, I am excited to showcase the delicious artisans of Carouge, the neighborhood south of Geneva’s old town with the launch of Sweet Geneva.
To follow Kerrin’s mouth-watering blog, MyKugelhopf and for further Sweet Zurich Tour information, visit www.mykugelhopf.ch.