Supplying mountain restaurants
It’s midday! After 3 fantastic hours hurtling down the resort’s ski slopes, your stomach is starting to rumble. You don’t want to tear yourself away from your beautiful surroundings for even a second. It’s settled: you’ll have lunch in a mountain restaurant. But do you know the journey that your burger has taken to reach your plate? A behind the scenes look at the process of supplying mountain restaurants.
Essential advance preparation
One operative word: or-ga-ni-sa-tion! When it comes to feeding thousands of famished skiers, there’s no room for improvisation. So, all products that keep (groceries, dry goods, drinks etc.) are stockpiled well before the season begins.
At Le Panoramic, between 100 and 140 crates of foodstuff are transported by funicular in late August/early September.
A race against time
Each morning, several hundred kilos of fresh products are transported to various mountain restaurants by funicular (Le Panoramic), by cable car (La Tovière) and groomer or snowmobile (Lo Soli restaurant).
Jean-Michel Bouvier (Le Panoramic): “We have chosen to prepare the vast majority of products ourselves, even for the self-service restaurant (gnocchi, pasta, sauces, burger buns etc.) This means we have to use the funicular to transport between 1 and 2 tonnes of fresh products every morning “ (see video below, 8-12 seconds).
Lo Soli restaurant manager: “We purchased a snow groomer to help us transport fresh products. It’s the price of independence: we no longer have to rely on the lifts“.
Transporting food from the delivery truck to the restaurant, preparing the terrace, firing up the ovens... It takes a small army of staff to satisfy your tastebuds.
"20-25 people are mobilised at opening... and closing time! And let’s not forget that, afterwards, all the rubbish needs to be brought down!”
Jean-Michel Bouvier (Le Panoramic)
Up to 20 people come down the mountain to take delivery of fresh products for Lo Soli restaurant. And if there’s no room left on the groomer, on the way back up, they have to lie on top of the boxes.
When all goes smoothly, supplies are delivered to Le Panoramic between 8.30 and 9.15am and Lo Soli restaurant from 7am onwards. But nature being what it is, things don’t always go according to plan.
Occasional extreme weather
When the weather is mild, fresh products can be transported without too much hassle. But if several feet of snow have fallen during the night, it’s a completely different story. Roads that are almost impassable by delivery truck, epic operations to transport supplies to ski lifts, near impossible access to the front of the restaurant etc. Things get a whole lot more complicated with the arrival of heavy snowfall.
Jean-Michel & Clément Bouvier (Le Panoramic): “Imagine negotiating Val Claret base village carrying armfuls of boxes, packed with fresh produce, knee deep in snow… that will really wake you up! Sometimes you reach the top (Ed: Le Panoramic terrace, at 3,032 m above sea level) and there’s more than 1.5 m of snow on the terrace. You can’t just clear a path through to the front of the restaurant... You have to remove a huge amount of snow before the day can really begin.”
Photo credit: Le Panoramic
Lo Soli restaurant tries to outsmart the cold weather by transporting their fruit and vegetables in the snow groomer’s cab so they don’t freeze during the 10 minute journey.
We laugh about it ... after the event!
Working in such conditions, mountain restaurant owners have always some story to tell.
Jean-Michel & Clément Bouvier (Le Panoramic): “Last winter, we ordered a fridge...it took us two weeks to get it up to Le Panoramic! It was impossible to send it up on the funicular. So we had to call on a helicopter...which couldn’t land because of the wind! In the end, we had to take it up in a snow groomer.”
“Sometimes, in the past, we’ve slightly overloaded the groomer! We came close to getting stuck on the slopes because of the weight of the load... Eventually, we managed to get out by digging large holes in the slopes. The ski patrol team was none too pleased!”
Lo Soli restaurant manager
Perhaps now, you’ll see your burger in a whole new light!