Skip to main content

We notice you're blocking ads.

We carefully manage all our local “ads”, to be relevant to Chamonix and your trip here. We fund our site by featuring these offers, many of which you might like. Please "whitelist" us - thank you for supporting our work!

Roo Hasan - Owner at PomPom Private Catering

An Anglo-Indian chef passionate about food and the mountains

Featured in:

| Ana Hernández, Chamonix Editor | Published
  • Photos
  • Map

Roo Hasan decided to set up a private catering business in the Alps after training as an illustrator in the UK. In Chamonix, she found the perfect produce, cosmopolitan clientele and inspiring landscape to make all her professional dreams come true.

Thanks to her dual background, with an Indian father and an English mother, Roo's approach to cooking is deliciously diverse. She's well versed in the art of cooking with spices and can whip up the perfect dhal but also a quintessential Eton Mess. Her menus are also full of influences from other corners in the world, from Turkey to Japan, Italy, Peru and Morocco, turning her kitchen into a small world on its own.

However, her approach to private catering doesn't just stop at offering incredible food. Roo wants to create an unforgettable experience for her customers. That's why she focuses on the communal aspect of dining, preparing shared platters that everyone can enjoy.

We met up with her to ask her about her business, cooking, her life in the mountains and her top tips for Chamonix visitors.

The beginnings of a private chef

Tell us a little bit about your business, how it started out and where you're based. Why did you decide to set up business in the French Alps?
PomPom is a private catering service that provides a bespoke catering experience, focused on the joy of sharing exceptional food in good company. Established by myself, Roo Hasan, PomPom was created out of a passion for good food and entertaining. Chamonix is where I am based but I work across the French Alps, it is nice to leave the valley occasionally. I decided to set up a business here for the same reason that draws most people in – the magic allure of the mountains, the fresh air, the outdoorsy lifestyle that people are here for… and the cheese. It’s not always easy living in the mountains, they have a habit of making the bad times seem really isolating but, on the flip side, they make the good times, awesome. There is something equally sobering and equalising about the mountains which not all landscapes have – it’s special.

What were you doing before?
I studied as an Illustrator in sunny Brighton, UK, and worked as a printmaker and designer for a short while, before deciding to focus on food (my number-one love and means of procrastination) full-time.

Why did you choose catering as a job?
Food is one of the greatest human equalisers and the most powerful bonder. It is essential to nourish our bodies but it is also a creator of memories and is capable of teaching history and culture from every part of the world. Food is used to celebrate and commemorate, it’s inspiring and people will always need it and be fascinated by it. Simply put, though, I chose food because I am the most greedy person I know.

Where did you get your love of cooking?
I have my mum and both grandmas to thank for that. We grew up with homemade food at the epicentre of our daily lives, my mum made sure that we ate well and I’ll always be grateful for that. Each Friday we would feast as a family at my Asian grandma's ('daddyma') house (I have her to thank for my perfectly round roti) and Sunday we would visit my English nan where we would bake a cake together (I have her to thank for my perfectly-risen Victoria sponges). 

Cooking in the Alps

What is your most memorable moment in the French Alps?
The first day that I “got” riding fresh powder. I don’t think I’ll be able to top that very first moment of floating through untouched powder on my snowboard, listening to Toots & the Maytals with the sun on my face.

What makes the Alps a special place to be for someone in the private chef and catering business?
The variety of people that I get to cater for is what keeps me on my toes. The Alps is a special place to work because, no matter how different clientele are, there is a deep respect and love of the mountains that everyone shares here. Also, everybody is ever-so-slightly unhinged in some way as they like to throw themselves off mountains in some way or another - it keeps people young at heart out here. 

Does Alpine or French produce influence what you prepare?
Living in the Alps really forces you to cook mindfully and with the seasons. Unlike the UK where every possible ingredient is available at any given time, ingredients in the Alps are not as readily available. It forces you to be creative as a chef and to really capitalise on what is in season. It is how I’ve always wanted to cook as a chef, and I’m grateful for the abundance of fruit and veg that you can forage for yourself. I’ve also learnt to make the most of produce around me; whereas in the past I would have made my own bread, butter and pastries, French produce is so excellent here that it is would be a crime to not use it. The saying, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” rings a bell. 

What is special about your business? What sets you apart from everyone else?
I offer more than individually plated dishes like the traditional way of dining. I focus on shared food; exceptional food becomes a necessary resource for connection, community and relationships. Picture huge platters, plentiful bowls, trays, dipping pots and jars, artful table decoration and flowing drink. A dining experience which encapsulates all the nostalgia, fun and warmth of feasts with friends and family. My food is as much about the experience surrounding it – the conversation and time spent relaxing – as the food itself.

Describe your business in one word.

'Sobremesa'. It is an untranslatable Spanish word that describes the time spent after a good meal – the conversation, digesting, relaxing, enjoying. Certainly not rushing. Not reserved for weekends.

What is in store for the future with your business? Any exciting projects in the pipelines that you can share with us?
I am going to launch some supper clubs in Chamonix – pop up events that celebrate food, community and the seasons. As well as encouraging community, supper clubs are an excellent way to make new friends and try new food in a truly immersive dining experience. Check the Chamonet Events Calendar or the PomPom website to keep up to date with future events. There are also some exciting charity projects with Patagonia in the not-so-distant future and watch this space for yoga retreats in the spring.

Delicious dishes with Anglo-Indian influences

Do you draw inspiration from any other cuisines?
Indian. Without a doubt. My dad is Gujarati so I have grown up eating a fusion of West Indian and Anglo food. Most people have a food which reminds them of a childhood memory; almost all of my most nostalgic memories are rooted in food, eating and sharing. Having dual British Indian heritage, my foodie memories are a mix of clashing smells, tastes, textures, colours, cultures and traditions but always rooted in the recurring theme of feasting. I feel so lucky to have dual-heritage and don’t think my foodie upbringing would have been nearly as exciting without it.

What are some of the essential ingredients one should stock up on to make Indian food at home?
Spices, of course. Indian cuisine relies on a cupboard of well-stocked masalas. The essentials for me are cumin, coriander, turmeric, curry powder, mustard seeds, garam masala, cardamom, cinnamon and curry leaf. Toast whole spices before grinding them to a powder to maximise on their full flavour profile. Homemade ginger and garlic paste is a fridge must and tamarind is my secret weapon to bring umami to Indian dishes. 

What dish always tastes like home to you?
Dhal. Although it is my mum who is English and my dad Indian, she cooks incredible Indian food and her dhal is the ultimate comfort food for me. Finished with something completely contrasting but reminds me of home and growing up - a rhubarb crumble. I have very vivid memories of picking rhubarb for my nan as a child. 

What is your favourite ingredient to use?
That’s like asking what my single favourite film is. My favourite spice is cardamom, it’s completely unique and I’m obsessed with using it and its health benefits. In terms of fresh produce, a perfectly ripe, juicy tomato that still smells like the vine is the best base for so many dishes. 

What is your most indispensable kitchen item?
After my knife, my coffee pot. I rely on a lot of coffee to get me through jobs.

Insider tips for Chamonix visitors

Any restaurant in Chamonix you can recommend for a special occasion?
Munchie. I still crave the tuna sashimi I had there with wasabi tobiko, nashi pear, goat cheese, hijiki salad and chilli honey.

Where would you go for the freshest local produce?
The Saturday market at the Place du Mont Blanc in is a real treat. I get a bit carried away there.

And the best cake?
There is a giant macaron which a few of the patisseries sell which is my kryptonite. It’s a fuchsia pink macaron filled with fresh lychees, crushed raspberries and rose cream. I highly recommend it with a pot of fresh tisane.

What’s your favourite season or holiday?
I’m spoilt here, really. Whereas autumn in the mountains looks most magical, winter offers a playground and spring brings sunny slush days, nothing recharges my batteries more than blazing summer days. Any excuse to cook and eat outside and a good swim at Lake Passy.

Give our readers a Christmas present idea for their loved ones
This is my time to shamelessly plug my Private Chef Experience Gift Vouchers. Treat your loved ones to a really memorable gift that they can decide well after Christmas.

More inspiration...

So, if you want to enjoy scrumptious food in the privacy of your chalet while you're on holidays in Chamonix, or if you want your next event's catering to be memorable, get in touch with PomPom Private Catering.

Book My Private Chef