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‘My vocation was born in the Ardèche, as I watched the pots and pans bubble away in the kitchens of the family inn. My family took me to the top. First my own family and then, very quickly, the family of top chefs: Pic in Valence, La Tour d’Argent in Paris, Le Vivarois in Paris, Gaston Lenôtre in Plaisir… right up to Cimes Blanches in Courchevel 1650, where I met Maryse, my wife; and then we went on to buy Le Chabichou together. This modest hotel, with its ideal location at the foot of the ski runs, only had 9 rooms back in 1963. Fifty years later, our delightful chalet with its typical white façade offers 25 cosy and luxurious rooms, and we also have more than 1100 m² of spa area, a bistro, Le Chabotté, and a gourmet restaurant. With the help of Stéphane Buron, I try to ensure that the fine local produce from our terroir is used to very best effect. The ingredients we use may be simple or noble, but they are always handled with utter respect. Ours is a very simple cuisine of the heart.’ Stéphane Buron ‘It was the same for me as for my mentor, Michel Rochedy, it was my family, in the broadest sense of the word, who pointed me in the right direction. My fellow chefs have fuelled my passion for cooking: André Surmain at the Relais in Mougins, Joël Normand in the kitchens at the Élysée in Paris and Christian Willer at Hôtel Martinez in Cannes. Then my adoptive family took over. My Chabichou family adopted me in 1987 and little by little helped me up the ranks to win the top Taittinger International Culinary Award in 2002, the title of Best Worker in France in 2004, and then the job of head chef for Michel Rochedy. This gave me the opportunity to work as one of a pair and orchestrate delicious contrasts, juxtaposing noble produce and local staples, sweet and savoury ingredients, crunchy and melting textures.
I travel the mountains looking for little hidden treasures with my friend Bernard Mure- Ravaud, who has won the MOF and the International Caseus Award as the world’s best cheesemaker. I buy from about half a dozen farmers. My most recent discovery is La Ferme de Montfort, which makes excellent goat cheeses. All of those Alpine pasture cheeses are a rare, highly coveted treat. We buy our cheeses before they have even been produced…
I alter them as little as possible in order to keep their texture. However, for the past several years I have been offering a recipe in the winter called La Pierre des Alpages in which I cook three different blues: an organic Bleu de Sassenage au gratin on a pear fondue flavored with pepper, a Persillé de Tignes macerated in lemon olive oil and layered with a fig carpaccio, and a Bleu de Termignon in a sorbet with a Savoy apple granita.