Journal

Under the Microscope, Head Chef, Nick Lyon Dean

16 Dec 2016

They are the workers who live to make you happy; the staff focused solely on exceeding your expectations; the team sourced from the four corners of the globe to work for The Boutique Chalet Company and we want to know more about them! This week we are speaking to Head Chef, Nick Lyon Dean for Boutique Chalet’s  Under The Microscope.

So... summer was a hit. We heard reviews such as ‘Better than a Michelin starred restaurant’ 'The best meal I have ever had’ ‘Can I take him home with me’. You had a storming success this summer launching Twenty26. What’s next for winter?


Thank you! We certainly tried to push the envelope a little over the summer and create a different kind of gastronomic experience in Morzine. It feels like we’ve struck a chord with the locals and I’m really looking forward to building on that next summer. This winter I’m taking on the role of Head Chef for the Boutique Chalet Company as well as cooking in the latest addition to their portfolio, Chalet Ferme de Moudon in Les Gets, which is a fantastic chalet and featured on Grand Designs about 10 years ago. I’m hugely excited about both of these roles and the winter to come.



So when did you decide you wanted to be a chef?


It wasn’t really a conscious decision at first – I’d started cooking at university and found I enjoyed it, but my real passion was skiing, so originally cooking was a way for me to work ski seasons. After my first season I discovered I really had a passion for cooking and decided to take it further. It was probably only after I worked in a Michelin-starred restaurant that I settled on cooking as a career.

Where did you train?


After my first season I trained for a couple of months at the Edinburgh School of Food and Wine which gave me an excellent grounding in the basics of cooking. I also studied chef qualifications while working in New Zealand. But for me, I found I learned the most by working in high pressure Michelin starred restaurants.

Why are you passionate about food? Why not wine, or chocolate, or jigsaw puzzles?


Oh I’m passionate about wine and chocolate too! I love to eat, it’s as simple as that. Food is a journey of continuous discovery, there’s always ingredients, flavours and techniques that you haven’t discovered yet; when you think you’ve stopped learning and evolving as a cook it’s time to change career! That’s what makes it so fascinating and exciting.

Why have you decided to stay working in the mountains?


After 6 consecutive ski seasons working in New Zealand I spent two years working as a private chef and in Directors' dining rooms in London. I felt a real yearning to be back in the mountains not only to ski but also so I could be more expressive creatively. From my previous seasons I knew there were plenty of chalet companies offering hearty but uninspiring food, but only a few that guaranteed creative freedom for their chefs and thus a first-rate dining experience for their guests. That’s the level I wanted to be at, and after a season working for another high-end chalet company, Boutique offered me the chance to create something special not only for the summer but also moving forward and I jumped at it. The passion Chris and Sarah have for what they do is incredibly infectious and I knew from the start that we would work well together.

What can we look forward to with this coming winter’s menu at Boutique?


Last winter my food was very much based on French and Mediterranean cuisine. Over the summer I’ve been incorporating and experimenting with Middle Eastern and Asian flavours and I’m really looking forward to continuing that during the winter.

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What is your current Favourite dish to cook?

I’m at my parents’ house in Scotland where it’s a bit cold and wet! So something hearty like Lancashire Hotpot has been produced a couple of times over the last few weeks. I’ve also been relishing autumns’ bounty, so have been making things like bramble jam, elderberry jelly and sloe gin, which I’ll use during the winter.

Who is your favourite or most inspirational Celebrity Chef and why?

I don’t really buy into the whole celebrity chef thing, but if I had to choose it would be Marco Pierre White in his heyday. No-nonsense, mercurial, a brilliant cook and without whom British cooking wouldn’t be where it is today.

Biggest kitchen pet hate …

There’s a few things! Other than signature dishes and the current fad for edible soil (something I find mind-bogglingly pointless), bad hygiene and untidiness are probably my biggest bugbears. I’m a real clean freak. Also poor knife-handling technique – so often I see people not tucking their thumb behind their fingers and think “ that’s going to come off soon!”. Of course I warn them!


QUICK FIRE ROUND

One kitchen utensil you couldn’t live without?

Heat-proof rubber spatula – good for so many things

One ingredient all kitchens should have (and why)

Salt – because without it your food will be bland

If you were stuck on a desert island for the rest of your life,
what three food items would you take with you?

Eggs
Chicken stock
Olive oil

 

Thanks Chef Nick! We look forward to sampling your taster menus at the beginning of winter.

For more information on Chef Nick Lyon Dean, Restaurant Twenty26 or any of The Boutique Chalet Company’s offerings get in touch. For Nick’s top tips on “How to poach the perfect egg” click here.

 

 

Author: Claire Garber



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