Shelf Life: A Restaurant with an Expiration Date

posted on | updated on | by Zuri Girl

Is cooking an art or a science? Or both? Find out from 28 September – 18 November.  

Many people may think it is more of an art, but lately we have seen a lot of food wizards showing to us that the secret of cooking actually has all to do with science. It is about techniques, about chemistry, about physics. And many chefs unlock this secret. We now see molecular gastronomy techniques used at neighborhood restaurants, not only at the Michelin-starred anymore. However, it is always exciting to see someone take the ‘lab’ approach to create great dishes.

And it is now in Zurich, where a group of chemists, scientists, engineers who are passionate about food, have come together as an entity called Taste Lab led by Susanne Tobler, the head chef and brain behind Shelf Life (pictured left). They experiment and create dishes like what scientists do in their labs. They do not own a restaurant, but execute their lab results in many ways: catering, food events, supporting kitchens of other restaurants, etc.

And now it is the summer-end. They work a lot on food preservation, to prolong the summer flavors for us to enjoy. While they had fun experimenting on drying, sugaring, curing, smoking, candying, fermenting ingredients, it happened to be that they found a location of an old restaurant in between the new move-in. So, the consequence is something exciting for us lucky people: a pop-up restaurant called Shelf Life.

Shelf Life is an eatery like nowhere else. Not only because it is temporary (it will last for 2 months only), it has a concept of food preservation, of which the menus are created around the preserved ingredients they have. The way to dine there is also different. First, you have to reserve online (though walk-in is possible if you are lucky to come across empty seats), and pay in advance. The number of dishes served will depend on number of people in a group, in a manner they call “The SHELF LIFE Experience” where everyone shares every dish together.

Zuri Girl visited their soon-to-open restaurant where they showcased their concoctions of preserved ingredients combined with seasonal fresh ones, prepared with a magic of science. They were all delicious. On top of everything, it is exciting to taste and see how many ingredients can be transformed into unexpected experience.

Here are examples of what their magic wand brought to us:

– Fresh buffalo mozzarella with dried basil and dried watermelon. How intense, and pleasant watermelon could taste when the water is removed! What a surprise!

– Pork belly with poached pear and kimchi. A contrast of softness and crispiness, and sourness and sweetness.

– Pulled duck confit with pickled chanterelle, apricot compote and duck crispy-skin crumb.

– Sheep cream with chamomile honey and strawberry chips.

Chocolate with candied nasturtium.

And awesome homemade ginger beer! We are really planning to return and try more.

How it works:

For dinner, you will be served “the SHELF LIFE Experience.” There are 11 dishes constantly changing each evening, and the number of dishes served depends on the size of guests sharing.

For 1 guest: Choice of 4 from 11 dishes

For 2 guests: choice of 6 from 11 dishes

For 3 guests: choice of 9 out of 11 dishes

From 4 guests: All 11 dishes

Price per person is CHF95 excluding drinks, and must be prepaid at reservation.

For lunch, the menu is yet to be released but it is guaranteed to be exciting and different, and changed daily.

Zuri Girl Tips:

Apart from creative excitements on the plates, what comes in the glasses is also something to look forward to. They claim drinks that are “special with exceptional ingredients.” Dante Bar is the name to be responsible for the experience not less impressive than the meal. We are seriously looking forward to try Combucha Fizz and Gingerbeer Magarita.

Opening date & time

Shelf Life will have a shelf life from the 28th September to the 18th November 2017 only. It opens from Tuesday to Saturday. Dinner serves at 18:00 – 00:00 and lunch at 11:30-14:00.

To book a meal for more than 8 persons, send an email to


Zollikerstrasse 6, 8008 Zurich (map)


Article & Photo created by Zuri Girl Fah Panyada Ruengskul; a corporate marketeer from Bangkok who turned into a housewife-cum-entrepreneur in Zurich. Fah’s hobby is writing travel articles and gastronomy. After living in Sao Paulo for almost 3 years, she published 6 travel books of which 4 are about Latin American countries. Her latest book “Europe Beyond Sky” features skiing and dining experience in Gstaad among 5 other European cities. Check Fah’s travel and gastronomic exploration at her blog and Facebook/travelling beyond sky or Instagram – travellingbeyondsky