Profile: Bighorn chalet Executive Chef Peter Hughes

Profile: Peter Hughes, Executive Chef at Revelstoke's Bighorn chalet, helped the exclusive establishment win the World's Best Ski Chalet award at the 2015 World Ski Awards. We caught up with Hughes to find out more about this world-class chef in our midst.

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Bighorn Lodge Executive Chef Peter Hughes. Photo: contributed

Revelstoke’s Bighorn chalet is located at the base of Revelstoke Mountain Resort. The exclusive lodge has won the World’s Best Ski Chalet award for three years running. Executive Chef Peter Hughes is a big part of the chalet’s success. We caught up with Peter to find out more about this extraordinary chef. 

Peter at work in the kitchen. Photo: contributed
Peter at work in the kitchen. Photo: contributed

Revelstoke Mountaineer: What inspired you to become a chef?

Peter Hughes: A lifelong passion for good food and wine. I have an almost encyclopedic memory for flavors and can even recall flavor profiles of dishes I ate on holidays as a kid. Family meals were a big part of growing up, especially my late father’s Sunday roast beef dinners; they were extraordinary! As a family we always turned off the TV and ate together at the table.

RM: Tell us about your career as a chef?

PH: I was self-taught for the first eight years. Using total immersion tactics with cookbooks, dining out and studying everything food related. Then I fast tracked a three-year pastry and two-year City & Guilds cooking course (the European equivalent of Red Seal) into one solid hectic year! I passed both courses with distinction. No one had ever done that before and as a result I was nominated for National Chef of the Year. I was then accepted into the Worshipful Company of Cooks in London and offered the job of my dreams at the time. I worked for a backstage catering company and over the years cooked for The Red Hot Chili Peppers, James Brown, David Bowie & The Who to name drop a few! My wife and I owned a bistro for five years before the work/travel bug got a hold of us. We then worked on private yachts throughout the Caribbean and Pacific. After that we decided to work a ski season in France, which turned into seven. Six years ago Bighorn was born and it has been a massive honor to be involved with them since inception. Bighorn was recently crowned The Best Ski Chalet in the World at the highly prestigious World Ski Awards for an unprecedented third consecutive year which has really made everyone’s efforts here worthwhile.

The Bighorn Lodge. Photo: contributed
The Bighorn Lodge. Photo: contributed

RM: How long have you been in Revelstoke?

PH: For six years now. This quiet little mountain town has got a serious hold on us. It’s such a beautiful friendly community driven town that this is home for us now. We bought a house and a beautiful Golden Retriever, we are very much settled here.

RM: What is a typical day for you at the lodge?

Wake around 5:30 a.m. and reply to emails! Get into my kitchen at 6 a.m., start up the engines (ovens) and get cooking. Breakfast is a big deal for our heli-skiing clients with multiple options and choices including really amazing sausages from BA Sausages, homemade granola, great yoghurt, berries, pastries, homemade compotes and breads. Then I move on to prepping afternoon tea and spend the rest of the morning prepping dinner. Usually consisting of five courses, except Friday evening, when I prepare a 15-course Asian inspired menu in the kitchen on a teppanyaki table. When I feel like I’m 75% prepped for dinner I’ll go and walk my dog with my wife and get some fresh air before returning at two and serving afternoon tea. Then the dinner prep starts and service begins at 7 p.m. It’s long hours but I’m a very lucky chap and genuinely love what I do, so most days it doesn’t feel like work even if I’ve been on the go for 15 hours! I’m also very much involved with guest satisfaction front of house too and really enjoy that interaction.

A recent dessert dish. Photo: contributed
A recent dessert dish. Photo: contributed

Do you do private catering as well?

I do some private mountain heli picnics for our clients. We fly into the middle of nowhere and provide an epic multi-course lunch in a very romantic snow kitchen and dining pit with fur throws and tablecloths! It’s really good fun but with changeable mountain conditions we sometimes have to adapt quickly!

Your website is phenomenal, do you enjoy writing and capturing your work as well?

Thank you! It’s a huge part of my work and private life. Travel and food photography have always been a big focus and I really enjoy writing too. When I eventually find the time my cookbook will get finished!

In the off season, Hughes travels the world working for international clients. Photo: contributed
In the off season, Hughes travels the world working for international clients. Photo: contributed

What’s next for you?

I’ve always worked to a five-year plan and that’s still rolling! For the time, life is pretty perfect and I can’t see us moving anywhere, but you never know!!

Best dish in Revelstoke that you would recommend?

Kawakubo’s ‘crunchy’ roll is epic as is the Village Idiot‘s aptly named ‘brilliant’ burger!

Catch of the day from the Columbia River near Revelstoke. Photo: contributed
Catch of the day from the Columbia River near Revelstoke. Photo: contributed

RELATED LINKS:

Bighorn: http://www.bighornrevelstoke.com/index.php

Peter’s Website: http://www.themountainchef.ca/

 

 

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