29 Jan Under the knife with Head Chef, Michael de Vries
Gourmet fine dining is absolutely central to the Le Chardon chalet experience. What better way to share our culinary ethos than to ‘grill' our Head Chef, Michael de Vries:
What is the role of a Head Chef?
It's to handle all the personnel, provide training and offer direction when it's needed. Fortunately mostly all of our chefs this year have worked here before. They need very little direction from me.
The joy of working as a chef here at Le Chardon is we have complete freedom with the menu. There is no ‘set menu'. We use the finest locally sourced produce and are free to flex our creative culinary muscles!
What is your signature dish?
Well my style is classic French. So foie gras, scallop dishes, Tornedo Rossigny...
How long have you been a chef?
My father has a hotel in St Andrews and I started helping out in the kitchen from the age of 14. I was always interested in food. At the age of 16, I spent a few years in a seafood restaurant in St Andrews. I started as a commis chef and within 8 years I had worked my way up to Head Chef of a three rosette restaurant. I've also been Chef de Partie in Tom Kitchin's Michelin starred restaurant.
My father was a chef. My father's father was a chef. I guess it must be in the genes!
Which chef do you most admire?
It would have to be Raymond Blanc.
What has been your most difficult experience?
That would be cooking for one of our guests, who just happened to be a very famous celebrity chef who was treating all his executive chefs to a ski jolly! They actually wanted fairly simple dishes but I did prepare four whole turbots for them one evening and they were very happy. That's a great compliment for a chef.
What is your biggest challenge?
As head chef you don't have anyone else to ask questions to any more but we do work closely together and share secrets. Everyone has their own specialties and style of cooking. Jose is influenced by Spanish cuisine. Mike and Jamie are Scottish - so they have been known to tackle Scottish nights with a cullen skink to start, haggis for main followed by cranachan for dessert! Leila has a delicate touch and is an incredible baker.
What is your greatest experiment to date?
Spiced roast wood pigeon and confit leg lollipop with textures of beetroots, Romanesque and a date purée. It looked magnificent on the plate and tasted delicious if I may say so.
What is your favourite local produce?
It would have to be the local cheeses - Reblochon and Beaufort. The cheese we serve comes from the cows that we can literally see outside grazing on the hill.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I love discussing menus with guests, looking for inspiration and coming up with the very best I can imagine. I like working with the guests, making them feel welcome rather than just working behind closed doors as is typical in a restaurant.
Thanks to Mike for answering our questions.
All our menus are personalised for our guests on a weekly basis, however, sample menus to whet your appetite are available here. For all other queries please contact our concierge team on +44 (0) 131 209 7969.