From carb-loaded set menus to fine dining and bespoke dishes, how has the catered chalet experience changed over time?
The role of the chalet chef has shifted with the ever-changing food and travel trends of the time. From set menus to fine dining and bespoke dishes, the chalet dining experience has truly evolved. Where once upon a time the role of the chalet chef was all about carb loading and lashings of house wine, it couldn’t be further from the truth today. So, what defines the catered chalet experience in 2019?
The original catered chalet experience
Fondue, raclette, pasta...these used to be staples of catered chalets in the past, (usually cooked by GAP year students more eager for time on the piste than in the kitchen). However, it quickly became obvious that people wanted more. Amateur cooks were replaced by actual chefs and fine dining became the norm. With afternoon tea followed by canapes and gourmet four-course meals every night, skiing wasn’t the only extreme sport guests had to contend with.
Evolving food trends
Yet, evolving food trends mean it is only natural that the goalposts should shift again. It is not enough to produce standard fine-dining menus every night, however delicious. Guests are looking for more. They want something bespoke, lighter and more creative. As people become more aware of what they put in their body, chefs have seen an increase in specific dietary requirements. Aside from a growing number of allergies affecting the population, there is also an increasing trend for clean eating and veganism. Chefs have therefore had to adapt to changing clients and their needs. Although this can be challenging, it also acts as a catalyst for creativity. The role isn’t just about production anymore but about innovativity and inclusivity, making sure people with an intolerance do not feel left out.
Examples of this creativity can be seen throughout our catered chalets. For example, at Chalet Joux Plane in Morzine you can sample the delights of Japanese cooking with a multi-course tasting menu of five to ten dishes based on the ‘Kaiseki’ principles. At Chalet Pont du Cam in Meribel, the menu is all about variety, offering everything from fine dining to Middle Eastern sharing platters and American slow cooking. Local and seasonal produce sourced from markets and farms are common place and chefs are only too delighted to discuss requirements before and during your stay to ensure the menu satisfies your needs.
Fine wines and craft beers
Although the food is important, so too is the drink. Guests expect champagne on tap, craft beers, signature cocktails and à la carte wine lists. Several of our chalets such as Chalet N in Lech have vast wine cellars boasting some of the finest wines you can buy. Guests are encouraged to sample different wines and tastings can be arranged. Chalet Marco Polo in Val d’Isere has its own fromagerie for the perfect wine and cheese pairing, whilst Chalet Truffe Blanche in Verbier has a sushi and vodka bar. When it comes to luxury no stone is left unturned.
The perfect balance
The other aspect of the catered chalet experience that is changing is the number of dining nights being offered. Although the top end of the luxury market still offers six or seven nights, many mid-range operators have reduced the number of nights dining ‘in’ to five. This is a direct result of changes to labour laws across the Alps. Nevertheless, guests have seemingly not been fazed by this and are in fact enjoying the flexibility it gives them. After all, the Alps is home to some of the best restaurants in the world and it would be a shame not to have time to sample them.
In summary, creativity, individuality and flexibility are the order of the day. This more tailored approach is good news for clients giving them more freedom and agency in the process so that the dining experience is one to remember for all the right reasons.