The Alpina Gstaad has announced that two Japanese chefs are already ensconced in the first European outpost of MEGU, the Japanese restaurant that forms part of the property when it opens this December.
A culinary team will be led by chef Takumi Murase who has more than 20 years of experience at luxury hotels and restaurants in Japan. He returns to the MEGU family as Japanese head chef in Gstaad.
At the same time, another alumnus of MEGU has arrived to serve as head sushi chef at MEGU at The Alpina Gstaad. With more than 15 years of experience as a chef in Kobe, Japan, New York and Athens, Tsutomu Kugota has specialized in sushi and charcoal grilling. Most recently he was head sushi chef at NOBU Matsuhisa in Athens.
MEGU offers artfully presented dishes that are a modern take on authentic Japanese cuisine.
MEGU’s interiors were by Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance who was inspired by the traditional houses and temple architecture in Japan in designing the restaurant. For MEGU at The Alpina Gstaad, he adapted some of the principles of Japanese design to the Swiss Alpine environment playing with filter, frame and composition, with nature as the common thread.
MEGU, which means “blessing” in Japanese, will combine antique kimonos, with traditional alpine fir wood and accents of vermillion, to create a sense of two different alpine cultures. Borrowing from the concept of different levels found in traditional Japanese homes, Duchaufour-Lawrance created an open, yet more intimate space. The sushi bar is on one level and a few steps above is the main dining area with a large communal table. Still another level extends up and out to a terrace where diners can take in the gorgeous alpine views.
Murase studied in Kyoto under chef Isomoto, one of Japan’s revered master chefs. After his stage at Eizankaku Kyoto where he performed Kasiseki and specialized in cooking seafood and unusual types of fish, he spent 13 years in California holding sous chef and executive chef positions at some of Southern California’s leading Japanese restaurants. In 2003, he was chosen as one of the first chefs to open MEGU in New York and later was name executive chef. He subsequently returned to California to join the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn. Earlier this year, he was tapped by the Windsor Hotel TOYA in Hokkaido, a member of Leading Hotels of the World, as chief chef of its banqueting department.
Kugota began his career at Tonkatsu Musashi in Kobe in 1997 and held the position of Japanese cuisine chef at the Nishijin Oriental Hotel there. After two years, he moved to Tokyo to take the position of Charcoal Grill Chef with Food Scope Japan, the parent company of MEGU.
The Alpina Gstaad is set on five acres in Oberbort, the exclusive hilltop area of the village which is in Saanenland in the heart of the Bernese Alps. Part of a $337 million luxury development which includes private chalets and apartments, The Alpina Gstaad is said to be a contemporary interpretation of traditional Swiss architecture incorporating local materials and authentic Alpine style. Blocks of Ringgenberg limestone, the rich brown stone from local quarries; hundred-year-old fir wood, gathered from old Alpine farm houses, and natural slate have been used in the construction. Huge windows allow for plenty of natural light and offer views of the surrounding mountains.
The Alpina Gstaad will have two restaurants in addition to MEGU, featuring traditional Swiss and international cuisines, a bar and lounge, a wine-tasting room, a private cinema, a cigar room, a ballroom and several boardrooms. The 21,500-square-foot spa will offer holistic treatments and programs and will include a hammam, a fitness center and an 82-foot lap pool. An outdoor swimming pool will be set in the gardens. The 56 spacious rooms and suites – all with balconies – range from 330 square feet to 4,305 square feet.