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Hugh Millard, head chef at The Lodge in Verbier

Meet the man behind the innovative menu in Verbier's premiere chalet

Featured in: | Greg van der Donk, Verbier Contributor | Published
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Located just an easy walk from the centre of Verbier is The Lodge, a 5-star luxury chalet catering for your every need. As one of the properties within Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Limited Edition Collection of luxury of retreats, The Lodge is a 9-bedroom chalet, complete with an indoor pool, indoor and outdoor Jacuzzi, spa and Michelin-star trained chefs. 

For most weeks of the season the chalet is booked exclusively for groups of 18 but, in the summer months and during selected winter weeks, guests can book an individual room for a shorter stay. To cater to this variety of guests and their tastes is quite an undertaking, that's when Hugh Millard comes in. As Head Chef, Hugh is responsible for sourcing and creating the menu, keeping things fresh and fun while also making sure the guest's needs are met. We've sat down with him to ask him a few questions about The Lodge and what makes cooking there so special.

Top Chef

Tell us a bit about yourself and how you ended up in Verbier?

My name’s Hugh and I’m the Head Chef at The Lodge. I grew up in Scotland, but the travel bug bit me young and at 21 I flew to New Zealand. I spent a year travelling and working in restaurants there, before heading back to Europe and arriving here in Verbier in 2011.

What started you on the path to becoming a Chef?

The first job I had working in a kitchen was when I was about 14 washing pots after school and at the weekend in a bistro. I already had an interest in food and was always keen to help out in the kitchen when I could. I stayed in this job for three years, eventually moving away from washing dishes and into the kitchen permanently, that's where it began. 

What makes cooking at The Lodge special?

Our guests! We are lucky to welcome a really diverse range of people to The Lodge, and always work to create menus that accommodate their requests while also showcasing the local cuisine. The menus change daily, and a lot of our guests come back year after year so it’s always a fun challenge to come up with new and interesting dishes to keep them excited.  

How does it compare to other chalets or restaurants you’ve worked at?

Working in the Alps is amazing because everyone is so passionate about the local food. In restaurant kitchens, you might be working on the same menu for several weeks, but ours changes every day so I really get the opportunity to showcase seasonal ingredients and try out new dishes and techniques. It certainly keeps me on my toes.

Mountain influences

How do the mountains affect your cooking? Have you been inspired by local techniques and ingredients?

I love making the most of local ingredients wherever I am, and I find that the producers here in the mountains are incredibly passionate. There is so much amazing produce available throughout the year, from the cheese to the Val d'Herens beef, to the wild berries and mushrooms in the summer and autumn. Being located where we are on the border of France and Italy, we are also lucky enough to be able to easily access products from these regions. 

Verbier has some great restaurants on and off the mountain, what are your favourites? Are there any in particular that you recommend to guests?

My favourite restaurant in town has to be Le Fer a Cheval for the great food and even better atmosphere.  

Obviously, Verbier has some great skiing. Do you get out on the mountain much? What are some of your favourite spots to ski?

Getting up the hill is one of my favourite ways to spend a day (or a couple of hours!) off. When we’ve had good snow, there’s no end of incredible freeride terrain in the area and you’ll often find me at my favourite spot, Mont Gele in the centre of the resort.

Homemade from home

What are your favorite dishes at The Lodge?

Everything we serve is made on site. From the bread and muesli at breakfast to jams made from fruits we pick during the summer to see us through the winter. It’s one of the simplest dishes, but fresh bread with a big dollop of apricot jam has to be the best way to start the day!

Any surprises or new menus you’re working on? Something different?

We have started doing a fair bit of BBQ cooking and slow smoking in our ‘Big Green Egg’ and it’s fast become one of my favourite cooking methods. I’ve been really enjoying using smoking methods with less traditional cuts of meat, like Mangalitsa pork which we buy directly from a small free-range farm near Lausanne.

Have you met Richard?

The Lodge is Richard’s ‘home from home’, so I’ve spent time with him and his family over the years. 

More inspiration...

The Lodge is usually rented out as a whole chalet but this year they are also offering a number of "Hotel Weeks" so that you can rent just one room at this luxury retreat.

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