When it comes to the apres ski scene in Chamonix, it doesn't get better than a night out in Chambre 9. With great live music and a fantastic atmosphere, it is little wonder that the bar in the Hotel Gustavia is one of the favourite haunts for Chamonix locals and visitors alike. But Chambre 9 is more than just a place to party in your ski boots. The food at the Hotel Gustavia and Chambre 9 is also equally legendary around these parts as anyone who has sampled their infamous chicken caesar salad, spicy curries, delicious quesadillas or international Sunday Brunch will tell you!
To find out a little bit more about what goes on in the kitchen of one of Chamonix's busiest and most popular bar/restaurants, we had a little sit down with Stefan Jerkfelt, the original Swedish chef!
Tell us a bit about yourself, where you're from and what you do at the Hotel Gustavia
I'm from Sweden and am the Executive Head Chef at the Hotel Gustavia in Chamonix and also for all the winter hotels in the Langley group.
How long have you been a chef and when did you first come to Chamonix?
I have been a chef since 1989 but first came to Chamonix way before that, back in 1982 when I stayed at the Hotel de l'Aiguille du Midi. I actually ended up working at the Hotel Gustavia but back then it was called the Hotel Etrangers.
Why did you leave, where did you go and why did you come back?
To broaden my horizons, satisfy some of my curiosities, and to see what else was out there in the world. I went away for 25 years travelling and working all over the world - first to study Hotel Managment in Switzerland where I was trained by the best chefs, then I worked for the national Swedish Tennis Team and also for the Ritz Carlton hotels. I came back because I love the town of Chamonix and the people.
What changes are you hoping to bring about in the Hotel Gustavia kitchen?
Well I'm coming back totally inspired by all the flavours I have encountered on my journey and hope to bring these to the kitchen and the entire Hotel Gustavia establishment. I am also keen to see what the Hotel Gustavia can bring out of me…
What is it about Chambre Neuf and the Hotel that makes it such a popular venue year after year?
A spirit that never dies.
Describe your average working day in Chamonix....
It truly is different every day. I honestly have no schedule other than to make sure that what needs to get done on that particular day is done!
Do you get time to ski and if so, where are your favourite areas/runs etc....?
Not so far, but when I do get out I just head wherever there is good snow.....
What are the best bits about your job?
The opportunity to truly be creative with no limits is a real gift and more than makes up for the hours and the stress of being a top level chef.
Which chefs and styles of cuisine inspire you?
The chefs I most look up to are Alain Ducasse and Nobu Matsuhisa. As far as style of cuisine is concerned, I take my inspiration from Asian, French, Swedish, American flavours - all together in a pot. I have blended together all the experiences and tastes I have discovered while travelling and working around the world.
Describe your cheffing style - are you dictatorial in the kitchen or do you lead by example etc....
Military discipline with a touch of Fawlty Towers!
Do you have any particular goals for 2013 - either personal or professional?
Nothing other than to just continue what I have always done. I don't generally set goals for one year, I set goals for my whole life.
Thanks to Stefan for taking the time to answer our questions and to Anais Kerroc'h at the Hotel Gustavia for arranging the interview.