The Alpina Gstaad, situated in an ultra exclusive Swiss chalet resort surrounded by the beautiful Saanenland peaks, celebrates a decade of superior and sustainable hospitality. What makes the hotel so cosy and familial 'a home away from home' is its exceptional, international team. In our interview with Chef Othmane Khoris, we discover the philosophy and high standards saturating his work as well the effort of the entire team. Chef Othmane joined Alpina Gstaad a year ago, bringing to the Alpina Gstaad his cosmopolitan experience from destinations like Dubai and the renowned Parisian patisserie Stohrer, founded in 1750.
Chef Othmane Khoris, in front of The Alpina Gstaad. All Images courtesy of www.thealpinagstaad.ch
Where did your love of pastry begin?
It was my grandmother who had a bakery, and my father took it over later. I was only 4 years old when I started to play around in the pastry laboratory... I think I have always wanted to do that since then.
Where did you gain your first experience before taking the position in Gstaad?
My first experience was at Stohrer, in Paris, which is the oldest pastry shop in France, it was founded by King Louis XV’s pastry chef, Nicolas Stohrer.
What are the advantages and benefits of having such a unique work environment as the award-winning Alpina Gstaad, one of the best Swiss luxury hotels, dedicated to working with best practices in mindful luxury and maintaining a holistic approach to sustainability?
It is an incredible chance, really. A few years ago, I was working in Dubai, and let’s say that sustainability and food waste were not really topics! It is incredibly challenging and exciting to do my job with sustainability in mind. How to use all the products, even the usually non-edible parts, and get to know and use local products instead of the typical luxury ones that I’m used to working with... Yes, I would really say it is challenging, and I love that!
What is your leadership/management style? How many people work on your team?
I hate micromanagement! I am always pushing my team to take responsibility. I spend a lot of time training them as soon as they arrive at the hotel so that they can be autonomous during the daily operations. We currently have four people to run all the desserts at the Alpina Gstaad.
How important is a sustainable approach in your profession today in Switzerland? (Does the demand for sustainable portions come from the guests, the employer, or both?)
It is not different from 10 years ago... We constantly hear about sustainability as if it were a novel concept. But, in reality, paying attention to the provenance of products and attempting to support and use the most local ones... using as much of one product as possible while avoiding food waste...I mean, this is how our grandparents lived and cooked! I think that everyone is pushing us to work sustainably, guests, owners, my chef...
How many of the ingredients in your recipes are produced locally, and where do you get some of the most commonly used ingredients? Which are your current favorite flavor combinations?
I try to use as many of our local and regional products as I can, mostly dairy products. We were currently working on a Swiss chocolate and pin cone dessert! I can’t wait!
"It is incredibly challenging and exciting to do my job with sustainability in mind. How to use all the products, even the usually non-edible parts, and get to know and use local products instead of the typical luxury ones that I’m used to working with... Yes, I would really say it is challenging, and I love that!" - Chef Othmane Khoris
What surprises do you and the team have for guests for the 2022/2023 winter season, the Alpina Gstaad's tenth season since it opened and what are popular recipes with "day" guests?
For this winter season, we have desserts with an interaction with the customers, where I finish the dressing of the plate at the table, in front of the customers... This is, I feel, what they really enjoy—getting to talk with the people behind these creations, talking about our producers, the products, and also about ourselves and our own experiences.