Food Diplomacy at the Annual Soiree Suisse

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Written by Hannah Bergstrom

Last Wednesday the Ambassador of Switzerland to the United States, Martin Dahinden, and his wife Anita Dahinden, hosted the 17th annual Soiree Suisse at the Swiss Residence in Washington, DC. Each year, politicians, diplomats, and business leaders gather together for a night of all things Swiss. This year’s theme was “Food for Thought: Switzerland’s Culinary Landscape”.

To kick off the evening, Ambassador Dahinden remarked that this special night was an opportunity to tell Switzerland’s story through food, as food represents his country’s rich history and culture. He also expressed how food can be a means to facilitate meaningful dialogue and strengthen diplomatic ties. For the past 17 years Soiree Suisse has been an important celebration of the longstanding relationship between the United States and Switzerland. The two countries have a long history of trade and investment with one another, and Dahinden highlighted the importance of maintaining close ties.

Following Dahinden’s remarks, world-renowned Swiss-American chef Daniel Humm was invited to the stage to accept the annual Soiree Suisse Tell Award for his “pioneering contribution as an outstanding Swiss culinary ambassador in the United States”. Humm is best known for being the chef/co-owner at Eleven Madison Park—rated one of the top restaurants in the world. Humm has contributed to the culinary world through his use of seasonal, local ingredients and by creating simple and pure plates.

The second Tell Award was rewarded to Chef Henry Haller, Swiss-American and former Executive White House Chef. Haller served as the White House Chef for over 20 years and for five Presidential families. Although he could not attend this year’s Soiree, the now 95-year-old chef was recognized for his dedication to cooking for and serving the White House from 1966 to 1987.

Throughout the rest of the evening, guests enjoyed themselves at the photobooth and with VR headsets were transported to Switzerland’s stunning landscapes. The highlight of the night, however, was of course, the food. The guests were treated with Swiss-inspired food from appetizers to desserts and got to experience the traditional Swiss raclette. It is no wonder that Switzerland has the most Michelin-starred restaurants per capita in the world.

Switzerland is dedicated to investing in innovation to transform the food industry through technology and sustainable projects to tackle some of the ecological issues our global food system faces. Switzerland stands as an example to the rest of the world as they make great strides in the food industry from production to transportation to consumption.

This year’s Soiree Suisse was an excellent opportunity for Switzerland to share these spectacular accomplishments, as well as celebrate their culinary history and honor their diplomatic relationship with the United States.