“We need innovative approaches to stay alive” says Ludwig Hatecke, owner of the finest meat manufactory in the long valley of the swiss alps named Engadine.
Hatecke, the finest meat manufactory of the southeast part of the Swiss Alps is characterized by its sensitive dedication to meat. With their three boutiques in Scoul, Zernez and St. Moritz they serve over 60 Hotels in the region and manage to please not only regular customers but anyone who sets foot in their realm…
Could you tell us about the origins of Hatecke?
In 1864 my great grandfather immigrated from Germany to Switzerland. He was a carpenter and at this point his knowledge was highly recognized because the hotel industry was beginning to flourish.
An established butcher industry did not exist yet. For this reason hotels built slaughter houses, which were part of the hotels. Farmers processed their own meat. My grandfather took this opportunity to learn the trade of a butcher. Later he established his own manufactory in the lower Engadine. In 1955 his son (my father) opened the boutique in Zernez. In the same year he bought the building in Scuol, which accommodates the Hatecke meat manufactory, where all our specialities are produced.
What is your attitude towards your work?
I like working with groceries. I find the slaughtering part disturbing at times but it is part of the process. What I enjoy most is to show the elegance of meat as a product. Paying respect to the animal is very important to me. It is processed with a lot of commitment and that is why we have to relish it with gratitude and present it in its best possible form. It must look prominent behind the counter. My grandfather came up with the concept of reducing to the essentials. He wanted to show less. The fewer products the better. My friend and architect Beat Consoni redesigned the store in Scuol with this vision in mind. We are interested in initiating a different experience for our customers. They should be able to move in their own pace in order to gain a certain ownership of the place. We want to be part of the relationship the customers develop with our boutiques.
What makes working with meat special?
The goal is to unfold the beauty of meat. To extract the best taste based on the sensitive understanding for the animal itself. It has a lot to do with the conversation we have with nature.
Eventually this conversation is visible within the product. The refinement does not end with the product itself but rather with the stage that we create. In other words, the way we present things is as important as the workmanship behind it. Everything comes from the same mould. Even our wooden trays, which set the stage for our meat.
Hatecke has been a family business since four generations, where do you stand today?
The roots of Hatecke are visible and up until today we cherish the family business. My son David takes care of our store in St. Moritz, which also encompasses a restaurant on the side. This is the space where people can actually sit down and engage. In the evening David offers meat from the grill. David is deeply connected to the region. He loves being outside and shares an equal understanding for indigenous work. He draws a lot of tranquility from fishing up in the mountains.
How do you make sure your meat products fulfill their promises?
During the summer months the cattle feeds on alpine meadows. As a result its meat is rich in important vitamins, mineral nutrients and healthy fatty acids. The cattle is slaughtered and processed within 24 hours for the meat to be completely intact.
One method to process the meat is to turn it into „Bündner Beef“, a speciality of the Engadine. In that case it is treated with salt and bay leaves in order to develop its full flavor. For three weeks the meat is reversed every second day in a room of five degrees centigrade. The maturing process takes up to four and a half months. Eventually the meat is put into shape by an old wooden molding press.
Ludwig Hatecke with son David at the Hatecke boutique in St. Moritz
What is so peculiar about the Engadine Region?
The region with its vast atmosphere needs to be reflected within the meat. Our world with its craftsmanship must be recognized. For me everything comes down to a single phrase: „to become one“. In other words we create meat, where the taste buds unfold their fullest potential in order for the meat to illuminate on its own. Nothing more, nothing less. Just in its puristic form. When you climb a mountain you reduce your belongings, this is what we aim for.
Where do you see the future of Hatecke?
In today’s world one has to be focussed, specific and reliable. The sensitive observation of a routined process prevents stagnation and creates room for new ideas. We are interested in the constant progress to gain the highest quality possible. Due to today’s overload of information we chose to take away noise by creating a language of reduction, also seen on our website. The images speak for themselves…
Is there one phrase that wraps up your philosophy?
We have to disclose what we are proud of in this region by fostering and applying our values.
Creating substantial experiences is achieved with a certain intuition we share as a community.
Visit Hatecke here: https://www.hatecke.ch/