A symbiosis between agriculture and the hotel industry
Family Patscheider Emmenegger
Farmer with a passion
Christian runs the «Chasuot» farm, which was built in 1984. About 10 years ago, he made a conscious decision in favour of «Angus cattle» and devotes himself heart and soul to cattle breeding. The animals are characterised by their friendly, curious and peaceful character. They are also virtually predestined for the mountainous terrain narrow paths and uneven terrain are no problem for the Scottish breed. So the herd enjoys the mountain summer on Alp Sarsura together with their calves in complete idyll and peace. Christian regularly visits the alp to check on the herd and make sure they are doing well.
For breeding, Christian has his own bull, which he replaces every four years to bring fresh genes into the herd. The cows are mated when they return from the alp. After a gestation period of nine months, the mother cows give birth to their calves, which weigh around 30 kilos at birth. Compared to other breeds, Angus offspring are very small at birth, which means a low birth risk for the mother cow. The calves gain a lot of weight from the first day – on average one kilo per day. To monitor the weight and thus the health of the calves, there is a scale for the animals in the barn.
More than a profession
Christian puts his heart and soul into his work and you can feel this very well as a guest. His animals also seem to like him for it. They greet him in a friendly manner as soon as he enters their run. Visitors are also interested in the Angus cattle and sniff them curiously. For Christian, it is important that the atmosphere in the herd is always harmonious and that the animals get along with each other. So he may give a cow away if it cannot integrate properly and brings unrest into the herd. Serina is also responsible for keeping order – she is the long-time lead cow and at the same time Christian's favourite. At 14 years old, she is the oldest member of the herd and is allowed to enjoy her retirement in Chasuot.
It is obvious that not all animals can be kept in a suckler cow farm. The meat from the breeding is used for personal consumption and for the hotel business. Christian places great importance on high standards when it comes to catering and looking after his guests. The animals are allowed to grow up in a species-appropriate environment and are treated with respect and dignity.
The balance to everyday life
Farming takes up a large part of his time. There is almost no time for hobbies besides cattle breeding. Nevertheless, there is a balance next to farming. Christian is a passionate hunter and after his cows from the Sarsura Alp have returned to the barn at home, he goes high hunting in September. Like her husband, Andrea also finds peace best in nature – preferably during a hike in the seclusion of the national park or on a bike tour.
Arrived in the Engadine
Christian met his wife Andrea during a national course for ski instructors in Toggenburg. At that time, Andrea lived in the Sörenberg region. At that time, without a mobile phone, communication was not comparable to today. However, Christian visited Andrea regularly in her home country. After her language study abroad, she decided to do an internship with Christian's parents, who ran the hotel business at the time. After this summer assignment, it was clear to Andrea that she wanted to stay in the Engadine and begin further education in the hotel industry. So she graduated from the commercial school in Chur with a focus on hotel management.
Commitment and team spirit
This is now 20 years ago and Andrea has gained a firm foothold in the hospitality industry and appreciates the many challenges that the profession brings with it. In 2004, Christian and Andrea took over their parents' hotel business «Baer & Post» and are passionate about their profession. The team spirit in a family-run hotel is enormous and also important. On turbulent days, they help each other and everyone pitches in. It is not uncommon for Andrea to leave reception and help out in service or in the kitchen. Christian, in addition to the work on the farm and the livestock, is responsible for ensuring that everything runs smoothly in the kitchen.
When the mule and cart track over the Ofen Pass was extended in the 1870s, the hotel industry in Zernez gained an important position. The construction of the railway in 1913 also had another positive effect on the entire Engadin. After the Second World War, the desire to travel also increased again and tourism flourished. Over the years, the hotel and restaurant business was continuously modernised and adapted to the needs of the guests. The traditional hotel in Zernez is now managed by Christian and Andrea Patscheider Emmenegger, the fourth generation.
The story continues
Christian and Andrea are a well-coordinated team and are strongly rooted in Zernez, nature and the traditions of the Engadine. Like his father, their eldest son Cristian began his training as a chef in the Upper Engadine. Daughter Laura moved to Engelberg for her training and Linus, the youngest member of the family, is in sixth grade in Zernez. And so the long history of the family-run agricultural and hotel business takes its course – one can be curious to see how it will continue.
Text: Michelle Zbinden
Images: © Mellita Abber und Foto Eichholzer | © Christian Patscheider | © Michelle Zbinden