What are the chefs of Vana Retreat in Dehradun doing in the Engadine Valley in Switzerland? Renu Chahil-Graf unearths the story behind this strange happenstance…
The story emerged during an interview with the General Manager of Grand Hotel Kronenhof, following a mountain weekend getaway organised by him for the Cornell Club of Switzerland. Have you ever been to India? I enquired, as an aside to the conversation. Yes, came the prompt reply, to Dehradun.
Dehradun?! Not Rajasthan or Kerala? No, only to Vana Retreat, he replied, which had been highly recommended by a friend as a calming antidote to the stress of everyday life. Taking his friend’s advice, Marc Eichenberger, immediately planned his trip to Dehradun – and the rest, as they say, is history.
Not only had he found the perfect retreat, but he had also bagged an opportunity to introduce a unique experience for guests at his own hotel in Switzerland; so impressed was he by the cuisine he enjoyed in Dehradun, that he invited the chefs from Vana Retreat to cook for a season at his five-star hotel in Pontresina, neighbour to glitzy St. Moritz.
The move was an immediate hit with the customers at the hotel, as well as with his staff in the stunning spa, who were talking about it months later. The food, the elegance, the style, the presentation, the sophistication… the photos speak for themselves.
What about pairing wine with Indian food? I asked Marc. Ah, an Ayurvedic menu abstains from wine, he reminds me. But if some diners so desire, he suggests the white house wine, Strata Bianco, a blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Pinot Bianco and Incrocio Manzoni, straw yellow in colour, with a scent of ripe apples and apricots; and, Strata Sassella, full-bodied red made from 100% Nebbiolo grapes, ruby in colour, with a bouquet of red fruits. Both wines come from the nearby Valtellina Valley in northern Italy, only 30 minutes away from Pontresina and are special creations for Grand Hotel Kronenhof.
So successful was the event that Marc is preparing to invite the Vana Retreat chefs again during the next winter season to the mountains of Pontresina.