While skiing in Val d’Isère recently, I discovered an innovative project that combines ski history and lifestyle with mountain dining. The Ski Gallery and Fondue Factory on Avenue Olympique is the concept of Dimitri Killy and Mick Killy, nephew and younger brother of Olympic ski legend Jean-Claude Killy.
“Because Val d’Isère has such a fascinating history, the idea of combining a contemporary museum with a restaurant and bar showcasing local specialities took shape,” explains political-science graduate Dimitri. The large space, formerly Le Perdrix Blanche, considered one of the resort’s finest eateries, now houses 130 pairs of skis alongside a 180-seater “fondue factory”, designed with neo-chalet industrial attitude by architect Michel Covarel and opened last December to mark the 70th anniversary of family business Killy Sport.
We sit at table 205 in the shadow of the majestic revolving glass cabinet displaying the lengthy 2.2m skis used by Jean-Claude to win the World Championship at Portillo, Chile, in 1966 and the Dynamic VR-17’s on which he won several gold medals during the 1967 World Cup. At the semicircular bar there are beers on tap and a selection of sharing dishes, and a TV screen showing Dimitri’s documentary on Olympic ski history.
Dimitri suggests a bottle of Côtes du Rhône (€59), a fruity blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre grapes that, he says, goes well with every dish on the menu. From the open kitchen, headed by local chef Cyril Benisse, we order Salade Savoyarde (€16) and vegetable mille-feuilles (€19), the layers mixed with French-Swiss cheese, lamb’s lettuce, truffle oil and vinegar dressing, before moving on to the house signature: fondue. There are 11 to choose from, paying homage to the French and Swiss Alps, and they can be served individually. I choose Fondue 50/50 (€29) with black truffles, farmhouse bread, tiny tender grenaille potatoes and a few lettuce leaves. Other regional dishes include Tartiflette (€23) and Raclette (€29), while the desserts include creamy chestnut Mont Blanc (€12) – vanilla ice cream and Swiss meringue, drizzled with chocolate sauce.
As I leave, there’s a long line waiting to be seated, but no one seems to mind since there’s the museum to explore. I ask Dimitri if he plans to roll out his concept to other resorts. “Well, it’s definitely an idea we may develop one day, but at the moment, local is the name of the game,” he smiles.