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The Valais, in Switzerland. My favourite region. The place where my wife, Severine, comes from. And where the Hostellerie du Pas de l'Ours is. My father-in-law Armand Bestenheider, its owner, handed me over the keys to this Property’s kitchens in 1994. I was 24 years old… and had a lot to prove. He was a leading innkeeper at Crans-Montana and taught me the art of hospitality. Others took it upon themselves to pass on to me their passion for gourmet cuisine. Chief amongst these was my grandfather, Jacques Malet, who founded the Chateauneuf family estate in Nans-les-Pins, followed by Jacques Maximin, my mentor at the restaurant at the Theatre in Nice and at the Diamant Rose in La Colle-sur-Loup. My Mediterranean roots and constant self-questioning did the rest. I owe everything I am to them. Today, they still lie behind my seasonal cuisine with its delicate, sun-kissed, local ingredients from the heart of the Valais.
Gruyère cream is one of Switzerland’s most exceptional food products. Like the country’s inhabitants, it has lots of character and savor. It’s made with only the best milk and is very rich, containing 45% butterfat. It has a mild flavor because it doesn’t undergo fermentation.
We use Gruyère cream in both savory and sweet dishes. However, I think it’s best to season it a little in order to bring out its characteristic flavor and intensity. Of course, we can offer it for the traditional dessert, with meringue, but it also goes perfectly with blended herbs or red fruits, as the final addition to a soup, in a sauce… As another example, this winter we made a Gruyère ice cream with chestnut honey and Périgord truffles. The possibilities are endless, bounded only by the limits of the imagination and the chef’s creative spirit.