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The Second Life Of Alessandra D.

Sometimes things happen and everything changes from one moment to the next. It could be something joyful and loud, like the birth of a child. Or it could be something quiet and sad, like the loss of a loved one. Or it could be an epiphany, an illuminating moment that lets you know what you need to do, what is truly important and what is not.

Sometimes, however, changes happen slowly, gradually, quietly and without any inner turmoil. That is what it was like for Alessandra Demoz, owner of "La Chaumière," the gourmet restaurant and bistro on top of the mountain. After 18 years of working as a banker, she simply knew: "I've been on this job long enough, it's time for change. It's time to pamper people with really good food and the wine to go with it."

It's not only about food, it's about feelings

"I want to give people the same feeling that I experience when I go out to eat good food. When you've enjoyed a visit to a restaurant, you often forget what exactly you had to eat, but you'll always remember the feeling it gave you," Alessandra, who has always been a foodie, explains. Going out to eat has always made her happy; she has continuously sought out new culinary adventures and experiences. She even completed a sommelier training while still working at the bank. Her professional past actually comes in handy in her present life: When you run a business with 28 employees, it sure helps to know your numbers.

"La Chaumière ", located at the top of the mountain, a fifteen-minute walk from the cable train station, is open during the winter season. "I am so pleased that guests who don't ski come here, too. They come all the way up here just for the food and the atmosphere," Alessandra shares and tells us about guests that have been coming for eight, nine, ten years. "I've watched their kids grow up."

When Alessandra speaks about food it seems as if she slips into another realm. She probably sees all the lovely dishes in her mind's eye: warm chèvre with apple compote, blue cheese with red wine jelly, wafer-thin slices of aromatic dry-cured ham. The homemade tagliatelle with venison ragout, the mouthwatering, steaming polenta pans with melted mountain cheese or the tender veal medallions. And of course, desserts! Like the peak of after dinner treats, named after the most famous mountain in the region: Mont Blanc. A delicate, melt-in-your-mouth creation of puréed sweet chestnut, whipped cream and meringue. All the ingredients for the new interpretations of classic alpine dishes served at "La Chaumière" are almost exclusively sourced in the region. Master chef Claudio expertly marries tradition and modernity in his creations. "My favourite thing to hear from guests is something like: ‘Alessandra, your pasta à la Bolognese reminds me of my childhood.' "

Alpine minimalism

Even the most restless minds can find peace as they soak in the view of Mont Blanc and the surrounding mountain panorama that seems to go on forever. When Alessandra took over the house, it was much more closed than it is today. She moved in with little more than a coffee machine, her inner banker telling her with a smirk: "You must be crazy!" And yet there was this strong inner feeling that she had made the right decision. Two years later, it was time for a thorough remodelling, which opened up the introverted little house to the magnificent view. Windows, several metres high and wide, now let the mountain panorama inside the restaurant. The first-floor bistro opens onto a large terrace, while the restaurant below includes an outdoor area as well. The old, simply decorated house was turned into an open, inviting space furnished in a minimalist-alpine style. Not too modern, not too traditional, with lots of natural elements such as wood and stone from the region. It is easy to see that interior design is another one of Alessandra's passions. She designed it all herself. 

Alessandra remembers how one day – it was cloudy, windy and cold – guests from Iceland approached her and one of them said: "This is your restaurant, isn't it"? Alessandra affirmed and asked them how they knew. The guest replied: "Because you glow in this place." Alessandra truly has a symbiotic connection to her restaurant. Sometimes, with a twinkle in her eye, she even calls herself "Alessandra La Chaumière."

Text: Martha Miklin
Photos: Sophie Kirchner

May 6, 2020

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