50 Years of Dining at the Matterhorn

The Matterhorn Café was established in 1963 by a Swiss man called Tony  , whom nine years later sold it to George Stucki and his wife Ursula they ran the business during the 1970’s and 1980’s. George was an amateur cameraman and he commissioned this clip where he talks passionately about his café and feeding his customers.

George was a fabulous baker his Black Forest Cake was an exotic afternoon tea and his cheese scones light and legendary. In the clip George refers to making sure they have enough grub for their customers no matter what time of day it is. George and his wife were hard workers from Switzerland and like Suzie’s in Willis St they bought sophisticated European food to Wellington and established our now legendary café scene.  Other European immigrants living in the city were very thankful for the tastes of home and locals were educated on a more varied diet.

Of course there were the usual suspects to be found in their pie warmer and toasted sandwich fillings. But rather than just the boring white bread sandwiches served in local milk bars George served  filled rolls with generous portions  of interesting European cured meats tucked in with fresh lettuce mayonnaise and sliced egg. For the time their food was considered to be the height of fine cafe cuisine.

Also popular were the crepes served with home stewed fruit and fresh cream. The Stucki’s were a hard working family. Each morning George his wife and two daughters would come to the café and work together preparing the food then eat breakfast together before the girls headed off to school.

I have a number of memories of the Matterhorn; I worked for the Stucki’s as a Friday night waitress and in the school holidays as the dish washer. George was a very particular man and meticulous in the kitchen, which was always spotlessly clean. I loved to sit around the back of their secret city garden and slurp on an iced chocolate on a hot summer’s afternoon, a great break from the busy hot kitchen sink. Or on a Friday night break, I would sit on one of those heavy wooden Swiss style adze chairs, under that massive BW photo of the Matterhorn. The moody lighting was a relaxing place for a break and to enjoy a really good toasted sandwich.

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