Jean-Michel Chelain

Jean MichaelA native of Grenoble, in the French Alps, Chelain began pursuing his culinary muse at a tender age. Chelain recalls, “when I was about nine years-old I began baking cakes, in the French school system we had Wednesdays off and all I ever wanted to do on Wednesdays was to bake cakes.”

Chelain began his two-year apprenticeship at age sixteen, and at age eighteen he began working in kitchens in Cannes and on the Cote d’Azur before coming to the United States in 1996. Once in the U.S., Chelain went to work in Carmel, California at Stone Pine a 4-star rated Relais Chateau, before moving on to Vail.

Though traditionally trained, and a purist when it comes to how he prepares classic French fare, Chelain describes his cooking as not very traditional at all. His menu supports this claim. Dishes such as  a Fresh Bonelss Trout sauteed with olive oil, capers, caper berries, tomatoes and fine herbs or his Fresh Salmon baked with olive oil, garlic, tomatoes and fresh herbs share billing with such traditional dishes as Bouillabaisse de Crustaces au Fenuill, and a well known dessert favorite  like chocolate souffle.

Chelain augments his set menu, which he updates seasonally and allows his creativity and artistry to flourish.

It’s important to Chelain to establish a standard and continue to meet it. He says that they can serve between 150 and 180 patrons in an evening. Beyond that and the ability to serve them well suffers and so does their experience.

Chelain has a personal affinity for the apprenticeship method of learning the culinary arts. It served him well, and now he’s the master training his own prot’s.