Dan Daniell is the host of the cult restaurant “Chez Heini”. If you want to celebrate an exuberant but dignified evening, come to his place.
Michael ImhofDesk Manager People
When celebrities come to Zermatt, a visit to him is a must: with his restaurant “Chez Heini”, the cult host Dan Daniell (61) has made a name for himself that goes far beyond the Mattertal. Also in the 34th winter season, the restaurant is very busy over the festive period.
International and national stars such as Abba singer Anni-Frid Lyngstad (77), British Prince Edward (58), Beatrice Egli (34) and Umberto Tozzi (70) are always happy to come to the Valais unique place. Not only his lamb specialties are responsible for this, but also the restaurateur himself. “I’ve always been a strange bird,” says Urs Biner, Dan Daniell’s real name, and laughs.
“The locals blasphemed, it looks like a funeral for me”
It all started in 1988 when he took over the restaurant that his father had built in 1972. Through his cooking apprenticeship in Geneva and his work in various hotels in Paris, Lausanne and London, he brought urban influences to Zermatt. “I was the first in town to set the tables black. Locals whispered it looked like a funeral.” Today he serves the soups in high heels, and he also likes to indulge in culinary delights. “If I have it in my head to combine fish with apricot jam, we have to test it.”
Dan Daniell is successful with his concept. The celebrities appreciate the boisterous evenings for which the “Chez Heini” is known. “Many a guest couldn’t just walk out of here,” says Biner, who doesn’t drink a drop of alcohol himself. “The American actor Stanley Tucci (62) came back the day after his visit to the restaurant to pose sober for a souvenir photo.”
At 10:30 p.m. he starts playing music
At the beginning of the corona pandemic, when he was only able to open his restaurant for a few weeks, the landlord devoted himself to his “Wolli” children’s books and music. He has been releasing songs again and again for decades, and most recently he recorded the album “Made in Zermatt” in Baschi’s (36) music studio. “I actually thought it was my last,” he says. “But music is my passion.” Recently he was back in Austria to work on new titles.
Good for him: his restaurant is also his stage. At 10:30 p.m. sharp, the parking lights go out in the «Chez Heini» and the disco lights go on. “My Zermatt, you are the prettiest,” sings the restaurateur in his hit song. He has already dedicated several songs to his home village. “I could never leave here. The Matterhorn won’t let me go,” he says. “All the better that the world is my guest.”