At the foot of the Mont Blanc massif, where picturesque slopes, forests, pastures and lakes intertwine, lies a culinary gem that celebrates this lush landscape: L’Alpaga Megève. Home to two dining venues and a bar, this luxe hotel offers guests a distinctive taste of the Alps, where the local bounty takes centre stage. Behind the property’s elevated sweet offerings is talented Pastry Chef Tess Evans Mialet.
Passionate about gastronomy and sustainability, Tess brings a unique touch to the resort’s dining experience. Utilising only locally sourced, seasonal ingredients, many of which she harvests herself, her sincere, eco-conscious desserts are infused with the flavours of the surrounding mountains.
FOUR sits down with Tess to learn more about her culinary philosophy, creative process and the delightful dishes she creates at L’Alpaga Megève.
Who/What inspired you to become a chef?
Without hesitation, it was my grandmother Cécile who was a fabulous cook, as well as my parents, who are both epicureans. I have always loved food from an early age and always took an interest in what was on my plate.
Had you always seen this as your future career?
I always saw myself working in a gastronomic environment. The eco-responsible side has always been important for me, and to integrate it into my baking. After graduating from Ferandi Paris, I started working on the salty side of the kitchen, but after a few years, my passion for the sweet side took me on a different path.
How do you feel your approach or style has evolved over the years?
As a pastry chef, sourcing with low environmental impact has invariably been my priority. Since my arrival at L’Alpaga, my creations have been positively impacted by the surrounding mountain and all its offerings!
If you had to describe your creations in 4 words, what would they be?
Sincere, seasonal, local and gourmet.
How do you translate these words/ideas onto the plate?
With precise sourcing, caring teamwork, acquired technique and the desire to give pleasure to our guests.
Tell us a bit about some of the dishes you make for L’Alpaga and what inspired them…
I decided to reinvent my favourite dessert: the infamous St Honoré. While keeping the traditional French recipe, I chose to use local ingredients, and by that, I mean using our meadow queen flowers picked on our doorstep to replace vanilla and dairy from “Ferme La Croix du Planay” farm for the milk jam instead of caramel.
For the Bistrot, La Table or room service, I use numerous ingredients that I harvest myself when hiking with my team.
Key dishes include:
- Strawberries, Brebis cheese and nettles
- Peaches, meadowsweet and honey
- Millefeuille with raspberries
Do you source most of your products locally? What makes the area ideal in terms of produce?
All our produce is sourced locally. Some of it is even from the hotel’s grounds – I spend my time outside the kitchen up on hillsides collecting herbs, edible flowers and wild plants. I also work closely alongside small producers in the area, such as the local honey supplier and “Ferme des Deux Savoie” for their sheep dairy products, used in my strawberry, Brebis cheese and nettles dessert.
I have removed items from our dessert menu, such as vanilla pods that don’t grow locally. Instead, I use the Meadow Queen flower, which grows everywhere around Alpaga in the summer. The flower has an exciting flavour that works well as an alternative to vanilla, with almond and tonka bean notes. For me, it is, of course, fantastic to be able to go straight out into nature and find something that I can then create a dessert from. We also have a kitchen garden with aromatic herbs like thyme and basil and lots of wild strawberries.
You offer a wild herb-picking workshop during the summer months. Can you explain a bit more about this and what participants can expect?
We will head out on a wild herb-picking expedition where we’ll learn about the local plants’ benefits and how to prepare them.
What are the key elements that have led to the success of the restaurants at L’Alpaga?
I work closely in collaboration with Alexandre Beaule, the restaurant’s Head Chef, and Alexandre Cuvillier, our Head Sommelier. The three of us make a fantastic trio. We complement each other nicely and share the same vision about the seasonal kitchen and the choice of products paired with the perfect wine. I think one of the things we do well – that I think some people overlook – is that every dish at ‘La Table’, while unique, is part of the same flavour story. I don’t like it when you’ve had a fantastic food journey during the savoury dishes, but when you get to the dessert, it feels like an entirely separate entity. The meal must continue all the way to the end.
What have you got planned for the year ahead?
Alpaga has begun serving a new afternoon tea menu in the hotel’s Le Bar, inspired by my British heritage but with a very French twist. I’ll be there between 2.30pm and 5pm every afternoon, serving up potato and Beaufort cheese waffles, saffron brioche, walnut biscuits and more!
To find out more about L’Alpaga, a Baumier Hotel, Megève, and its gourmet offerings, visit the links below: