Good food, good mood – an interview with Yoummi

Introducing Yoummi and the face behind it – Tom Unger. In this interview, Tom talks about the new culinary offer of the Swiss Youth Hostels and gives us an insight into 'good food, good mood'.

Yoummi represents the culinary future of the Swiss Youth Hostels (SYH) . Tom Unger, Business Manager Food & Beverage, ensures that the dishes are balanced, varied and good value.

Tom, what’s behind Yoummi and what can guests look forward to?

Yoummi is the name of the SYH’s culinary offer, which was launched in March 2022. Its core philosophy is balanced three-course menus, which are also sustainable, varied and good value. According to the motto: Always delicious, always good value.

The word Yoummi is a combination of “you” and “me”, so it also stands for having a nice time together at the restaurant, shared enjoyment, and interesting discussions with other travellers. Guests can share travel plans or even plan day trips together at the large table.

But there’s something else behind good food, good mood, too: We also want to meet our environmental responsibilities by offering seasonal and regional products. So, we have created new menus and placed a greater focus on vegetarian and vegan dishes. However, in the spirit of balance, meat dishes are still on the menu.

Part of the new concept is also the self-kiosk, which is accessible around the clock, independent of reception hours (see below).

Impressive all around: The new “Yoummi” culinary concept.

Why are you offering more vegetarian/vegan food at the SYH?

On the one hand, we are responding to the change in demand, as vegetarian dishes have been part of our menu for years. However, the number of requests for vegan dishes are growing.

In general, society has become increasingly aware of the food on its plate since the beginning of telework and quarantine. Plant-based nutrition is catching on; regional vegetables right from the farm are attractive because people know where they come from. And even some meat fans consciously no longer eat meat every day.

On the other hand, Yoummi fits seamlessly into our comprehensive sustainability strategy. The offer effectively ensures that we reduce our ecological footprint even further.

At the Swiss Youth Hostels, you can choose from a wide range of meals every day

How have your guests responded to the new menu?

It has been well received. They love the fact that our offer is designed to be healthy, sustainable, and meet their needs. They also appreciate that local drinking water is included free of charge. Each hostel has a water station where you can conveniently fill up a carafe or your own bottle with fresh water from the region.

Of course, there are guests who may prefer to eat a large piece of meat. But when we explain the basic idea behind it and what they get for 19.50, they are usually quickly on board.

What percentage of your dishes are vegan?

Instead of meat dishes also available as vegetarian or vegan options, today, full-fledged menus are offered as vegetarian or often also veganoptions as an alternative to meat dishes. Vegan is the new vegetarian, so to speak.

What is especially important to the SYHs in their ‘good food, good mood’ offer?

We cook top-quality, healthy, seasonal food from the region – which is also easy on the guest’s wallet.

Wherever possible, we use Max Havelaar (Fairtrade) products, such as orange juice. All vegetables, including those for the salad buffet, are sourced locally. Out of respect for carbon consumption, we avoid avocados and exotic fruit where possible.

Our meat comes exclusively from Switzerland, and the wines on the menu are from Europe.

Optional at the youth hostels: Meat.

You’ve also changed how the meals are presented. In what way?

You can now take the salad from the buffet anywhere and some of the dishes are served in deeper plates – for example soy mince with macaroni.

Then there’s the new topping station: A wonderful way to adapt any meal to your own taste. There you will find ingredients such as chilli rings, fried onions, herbs, croutons, seeds and nuts, lemon wedges, etc.

Do guests have to do without anything?

No. The culinary offer was expanded with Yoummi so that vegetarians, vegans, and meat eaters alike get their money’s worth with well-balanced meals.

We declare the vegan version with a special icon, and the vegetarian dish is then optionally available with meat. Except for dishes like Älplermagronen, which are meatless by nature.

Balance is particularly important to us, regardless of the menu option. This is true within the menu and considered over the whole week.

The new menu offers a lot of variety – sometimes Swiss, sometimes classic, sometimes innovative or cosmopolitan. In terms of planning, the youth hostels coordinate with each other so that travellers on bike tours don’t run the risk of eating the same food in the next hostel on two consecutive days.

For allergy sufferers, we also offer the convenient option of using a QR code to go directly to the ingredients of the daily specials.

Food tastes even better when you enjoy it with friends!

How much is a menu at the youth hostel, and what is included?

The three-course menu costs 19.50 for adults and the same menu is available for children from 8.50, including water from the water station and your toppings of choice. The menu consists of the following main components:

  • Salad from the buffet or soup
  • Main course: vegan, vegetarian or with meat
  • Dessert

Tell us about the self-kiosk.

Surely, you’re familiar with the situation? At four in the morning, reception is closed, and breakfast isn’t ready yet. This is exactly when the self-kiosk comes into play. As a guest, you can get a drink or a snack there yourself at any time of the day.

It looks nice and is well integrated into the respective youth hostel. Here, too, Swiss brand products are the trump card.

Where can you find a self-kiosk and how does it work?

Our guests can currently find a self-service kiosk at four youth hostels: Rapperswil-Jona, Schaan-Vaduz, Valbella-Lenzerheide and Zermatt. The principle is simple: You take a drink and/or a snack from the fridge and pay for it yourself via Twint using the QR code.

The self-kiosk is a rolling project, which means that more and more of these practical refrigerators will be added.

Simple and straightforward: The self-kiosk at Rapperswil-Jona Youth Hostel.

What’s next for Yoummi? Can you already give us a hint?

We will remain true to the principles of Swissness and regionality. Changes to our breakfast are also planned for this April.

More self-kiosks are part of an ongoing roll-out. In addition, the demand for vegan lunch packages for school class excursions is growing. We want to increase our offer there as well. So, as always, things will remain exciting.

Many thanks for this interview, Tom!

An interview with Tom


©Tom Unger

As a Business Manager Food & Beverage at SYH, Tom Unger is responsible for everything to do with food. This includes purchasing, (menu) planning, food distribution and the putting together the culinary offer. In his free time, he loves to exercise as much as possible. He also enjoys cooking for his friends and family.

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