Artist’s Palate: Doug Aitken’s Neuchâtel fondue

‘M’Cook’ fondue set
‘M’Cook’ fondue set, €269, by Mauviel. Paint in Hague Blue, £47 per 2.5 litres, by Farrow & Ball. Interiors: Matthew Morris. Food: Iain Graham
(Image credit: John Short)

From geodesic pavilions in the Pacific Ocean to the ranch-style Mirage house in the Palm Springs desert, Doug Aitken has deployed mirrored architecture to magnificent effect. This February, the American artist installed a new version of Mirage in the snow-capped mountains of Gstaad, Switzerland, ‘bringing the idea of the American West into contact with the European landscape’. Its awe-inspiring Alpine views are the perfect match for the artist’s favourite dish, cheese fondue. ‘I like performance and action foods, with highs and lows, and brief moments where it all comes together,’ he says.

½ clove garlic
1lb (450g) Gruyère cheese
8oz (225g) Emmentaler cheese
1½ cups (⅜l) dry white wine
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
4 teaspoons cornstarch
1½ tablespoons (2cl) kirsch
2 to 3 turns of a pepper mill
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

Before its first use, an unglazed clay fondue pot should have a mixture of milk and water cooked in it to season it. Glazed ceramic or enameled cast iron can be used without seasoning.

Rub the inside of the pot with cut surface of garlic.

Coarsely grate the cheese and mix them in the pot.

Add wine, lemon juice, and cornstarch and stir over medium heat until cheese melts (this should be done on the kitchen range).

The lemon juice is important, as it gives a flavourful tang and encourages the cheese to melt quickly.

Stir with a wooden spoon in a figure eight motion to keep the cheese from getting stringy.

Stir in kirsch, pepper and nutmeg, and cook a bit longer until mixture is smooth and creamy.

Transfer the pot to the burner on the table, where the fondue can simmer.

To serve
Spear bite-size cubes of bread on a fork and dunk into the cheese. Stir until bread is well coated, then remove while rotating fork to keep cheese from dripping. Careful – the cheese is hot!

The cheese fondue should continue to cook lightly during the entire meal. An experienced fondue eater stirs the cheese each time he dips a piece of bread; in this way the fondue will stay creamy right down to the bottom.

Measure cornstarch carefully. Four level teaspoons weigh ⅓oz (10g), but if heaped high can weigh almost ½oz (12g).

As originally featured in the May 2019 issue of Wallpaper* (W*242)


For more information, visit the Doug Aitken website

TF Chan is a former editor of Wallpaper* (2020-23), where he was responsible for the monthly print magazine, planning, commissioning, editing and writing long-lead content across all pillars. He also played a leading role in multi-channel editorial franchises, such as Wallpaper’s annual Design Awards, Guest Editor takeovers and Next Generation series. He aims to create world-class, visually-driven content while championing diversity, international representation and social impact. TF joined Wallpaper* as an intern in January 2013, and served as its commissioning editor from 2017-20, winning a 30 under 30 New Talent Award from the Professional Publishers’ Association. Born and raised in Hong Kong, he holds an undergraduate degree in history from Princeton University.