Q&A’s with our French Chefs

Valmorel Head Chef, Cyril Delbecque

The head chef at Club Med Valmorel tells us about how he fell in love with cooking and what we can expect on his menu this season

Get to know our ski resort chef in 10 questions

Who is Cyril Delbecque?

Cyril Delbecque is no flash in the pan. From his beginnings as a pork butcher, the Burgundy native has steadily worked his way up from an apprentice demi-chef to head chef:
- Apprentice demi-chef de partie
- Chef de partie
- Sous chef
- Head chef

At each stage along the way, he’s learned the valuable skills that – when combined with the passion for food that he inherited from his brother – would lead to his current position as head chef at Club Med’s Valmorel resort. He tells us the secrets and trends he’s spotted in his four years at Valmorel and shares some of his favourite dishes.

CLUB MED: What inspired you to become a chef?

CYRIL DELBECQUE: I learned to cook in Decize, my hometown in Burgundy. My passion for food comes from one of my brothers. We both started as pork butchers.

CLUB MED: What’s your favourite ingredient to cook with?

CYRIL DELBECQUE: I spent a lot of time during my adolescence near the Atlantic Ocean, so I love to cook with fish. I’ve also worked close to the sea in Gregolimano , Opio en Provence and La Caravelle .

CLUB MED: Have you noticed any changing trends or enduring classics during your time at Valmorel?

CYRIL DELBECQUE: Burgers, using local beef and cheeses, have become really trendy. Up in the mountain, lake fish are more present on the menu than ever, with the trend for local products. The traditional Savoyard dishes such as raclette or fondue will never go out of fashion.

CLUB MED: Have you seen any foods that were out of fashion come back into trend recently?

CYRIL DELBECQUE: I think chefs are now focusing more on the quality and sourcing of the products than on a real evolution in the types of food.

CLUB MED: According to recent Club Med research, one in seven people actually change their diet in the run-up to a ski holiday. What are your thoughts around this?

CYRIL DELBECQUE: In my opinion, it’s never good to change lifestyle or food regime right before a holiday. However, I’m sure a lot of them will be on a diet after their stay.

CLUB MED: What do you think the best dishes are to help skiers keep their energy up on the slopes?

CYRIL DELBECQUE: For me classic dishes are perfect, such as cheeseboards, Tomme des Bauges, Summer Beaufort or Abbaye de Tamié, all with a glass of local wine – moderately, of course.

CLUB MED: What are some of the most popular dishes at Valmorel?

CYRIL DELBECQUE: For local dishes, raclette, tartiflette and fondue are the most popular and pan-fried foie gras will be always a success. It’s not very local, but the couscous is always successful; it’s a favourite dish of our French customers.

CLUB MED: What’s the best-kept secret about local cuisine in Valmorel?

CYRIL DELBECQUE: It’s not very well known, but we have really tasty local wines, both white and red . We also have a few famous cheeses such as Beaufort and Emmental de Savoie cheese.

CLUB MED: What can we expect to see on your menu this season?

CYRIL DELBECQUE: Pan-fried veal sweetbreads with morels, golden chanterelles , truffle jus and creamy truffle polenta. Chicken baked with raspberry vinegar, button mushroom cream and crusts. Pan-fried foie gras, in a coffee jus and mini apples in a Calvados syrup.

CLUB MED: Do you ski and if so, what do you eat before and after you ski?

CYRIL DELBECQUE: I don’t ski as much as I used to, but I love to drink a tasty hot chocolate after a big skiing session, with a glass of Chartreuse or Génépi… and a local pastry.

Cyril Delbecque’s turbot with creamy mashed sweet potatoes

The head chef at Club Med Valmorel showcases his love of fish with his recipe for a hearty yet simple dish of turbot fish and sweet potatoes

Steps

  1. Peel the sweet potatoes, cut them into little pieces and brown in sesame oil.

  2. Add salt and pepper, add the milk and cook over low heat.

  3. Drain the potatoes and keep the milk.

  4. Mash the potatoes with cream and adjust the thickness by adding the cooked milk according to your taste.

  5. Brown the turbot in a large skillet with soft butter. Then bake it in a preheated oven at 180C for 15 minutes and serve with the potatoes.

You can add spices in the mashed potatoes while cooking, for example add curcumin or turmeric for an Asian touch, or ras-el-hanout for a North African touch. Or why not infuse two or three sprigs of fresh coriander during the cooking of the sweet potatoes?

Serre Chevalier Head Chef, Stéphane Dessarce

The head chef at Club Med Serre Chevalier offers his views on food trends at the resort and shares his recipe for a true French classic

Get to know our ski resort chef in 10 questions

Who is Stéphane Dessarce?

The only real way to give your food an international flavour is to be well travelled, and that is exactly what makes Stéphane Dessarce such an excellent head chef. The Frenchman learnt his trade in the Loire region of France, before embarking on a culinary tour that saw him work in kitchens across Italy, Switzerland, Greece, USA and Portugal, before landing in the Italian alps in 2001 as head chef of Club Med’s Cervinia resort.

His wanderlust saw him head up Club Med kitchens in resorts in France, Italy and Switzerland, before he finally laid down roots as head chef at Serre Chevalier. We spoke to Stéphane to get his take on the latest food trends, the relationship between skiing and food and the recipes for his own personal favourite dish, pot au feu.

CLUB MED: What inspired you to become a chef?

STÉPHANE DESSARCE: I have always enjoyed cooking; it’s a true passion. I respect the traditions of French and Italian food and love to share my passion with my clients and the future generation of cooks. I hope to pass on my passion and savoir-faire to them.

CLUB MED: What is your favourite ingredient to cook with?

STÉPHANE DESSARCE: I enjoy working with spices. Many kids don’t eat spicy dishes, so it’s a nice way for them to discover something they don’t usually eat at home.

CLUB MED: How have food trends developed over the years you’ve been cooking at ski resorts?

STÉPHANE DESSARCE: We had the verrine – a culinary speciality served in a little glass – trend, the vegan trend, the gluten free trend… but the majority of customers like to eat traditional food. The emphasis is returning now to regional products, highlighting the best of the region by incorporating local produce in our dishes.

CLUB MED: What local produce and ingredients do you enjoy using?

STÉPHANE DESSARCE: Tomme de l’Izoard and local fruits and vegetables, according to the seasons.

CLUB MED: Have you seen any past trends come back into fashion?

STÉPHANE DESSARCE: Everything is an eternal return, a loop. A lot of things come back into fashion, especially classic cooking.

CLUB MED: What’s the most important thing for skiers to remember when choosing their meals?

STÉPHANE DESSARCE: It’s really important that the skiers eat well because they are going to be a lot more active and spend a lot more energy than they do during the rest of the year. They need a lot of energy, so eating slow-burning sugar (pastas, cereals, rice, etc.) is important.

CLUB MED: Is there a big difference between your summer and winter menus?

STÉPHANE DESSARCE: Yes, in winter there is a lot of raclette, tartiflette and sauced meals, while in summer we focus more on fresh salads and BBQ’s due to the heat.

CLUB MED: What are the most popular dishes during the ski season?

STÉPHANE DESSARCE: Paella, sauerkraut, couscous, beef stew, rib eye steak with béarnaise, and veal blanquette are all winter best sellers. And raclette and fondue, of course.

CLUB MED: Do you like to ski?

STÉPHANE DESSARCE: I don’t ski, I don’t have the time. I’m too busy cooking!

Stéphane Dessarce’s pot-au-feu

Stéphane Dessarce, head chef at Club Med Serre Chevalier, shares his recipe for a true French classic, perfect for warming you up after a day in the snow

Steps

  1. Put the braising steak in a large casserole dish and cover with cold water. Add the chopped onion, garlic cloves, two of the carrots (roughly chopped) and the celery. Cook at a simmer for around three hours, taking care not to let the water boil.

  2. While the beef is cooking in the stock, peel and chop the remaining carrots and turnips into roughly 2” pieces.

  3. Rinse the kale well and then chop roughly.

  4. Cut the leeks in half and rinse them, then cut them into small pieces, around the same size as the carrots and turnips.

  5. Remove the steak from the stock, cover and keep warm. Cook all the vegetables in the beef stock with the thyme and the bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

  6. Once the vegetables are cooked, remove from the dish and keep warm. Add the marrow bones to the beef stock and bring to the boil.

  7. Serve on a large plate with the meat in the centre and the vegetables arranged around it. Add the marrow bones and pour over the hot beef stock.

Garnish the plate with some celery leaves. If you wish, you can serve with mustard on the side.

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