Photos by Scott Harris

Considered to be one of the finest places to dine in the Crans-Montana region of Switzerland, Chef Franck Reynaud has been showcasing his culinary passion for over 20 years. His Michelin star shines brightly at Le Restaurant Gastronomique L’Ours within the Hostellerie du Pas de l’Ours. Astute, articulate and always striving for perfection, Chef Reynaud stays true to the Crans-Montana region with his creative, locally sourced and ever changing menu. We met with Chef Reynaud in Switzerland and asked him to share his reflections and insights on his culinary journey. 

Being raised in a culinary family, was there ever any time that your father tried to steer you away from being in the restaurant industry, being that it is so difficult a profession?

I was born in the south of France in a third generation of culinary professionals. They did not say you need to work in the kitchen or do the culinary profession. They gave us the education. Whether we chose the culinary or education profession was our choosing. They showed us how to receive people and give pleasure to the people. When I am in the kitchen I want to give pleasure to the people. My work is my passion. If I was a school teacher I think it would be the same mentality.

You try to source your ingredients from the area, correct? 

50% of the menu is to have fresh ingredients. It is very difficult in the mountain region especially in the winter season. I try to get the maximum local products. We try to do lake fish, and there are good vegetables 4-5 months maximum, and spices too such as the saffron, aromatic herbs, and for the meat, we have the best beef. 

The skiing season is coming. What do you do to creatively prepare your dishes during the winter season?

We often change the menu every day. We use venison, lamb and fish. It is a pleasure for me to change when I want. The people trust me after 20 years since we opened.

What tool, with the exception of the knife, is one of your favorite kitchen utensils?

First we need to cook. We work with the oven, a really great oven. My new toy now comes from the United States called the Green Egg. It can both cook and smoke at the same time. People are really interested in BBQ right now.

What advice would you give to a young culinary student?

Don’t go! (Laughs) You must like to give pleasure in the kitchen but it will be impossible if you don’t. You need sensibility and must work in service. It is hard work but good work and you need to find where you want work; in pastry, with bread, you need to understand how to give a story, how to be a leader, not a follower. In the kitchen it has to be about the passion. I tell my son to make his own way, not to follow.

Are there any trends that are no longer viable?

We need to be aware of the new things around, but I don’t want to be persuaded by that. I keep it artisanal and true to what I believe.

What do you see as the most important aspect of your profession as a chef?

Really it is the ingredients. Have the best ingredients you can. If you make a sauce with bad wine you have a bad sauce. When the plate arrives in front of a guest it must be really superb. It is really simple; it is about creating maximum taste and texture. I was very fortunate to go to many kitchens with my parents to learn from the best in the world. It is about the kitchen, a certain kitchen in New York may not work here. When you work all day, you go to a restaurant to have a good time.