David Jewell's legacyFebruary 1, 2019 | By Admin
By Neil English
Thanks to Consensio for letting us re-publish
One of the best loved restaurants in this fabulous ski area nearly suffered an early demise when one of its founding partners was tragically killed by a shark.
But British businessman, Richard Learwood, a financial backer of the Cookie Café Mossettes, along with his wife, Julie, were determined to prevent their refreshing concept in alpine mountain food from, metaphorically, falling off the dramatic cliff it so proudly sits on at nearly 2,300 metres. Moreover, they were driven by the desire to keep alive the legacy of their close friend and restaurateur, David Jewell.
David, originally from Fremantle in Western Australian, had built up a small portfolio of restaurants in the Swiss ski resort of Villars and wanted to introduce the cool vibe of his alpine gourmet pub concept to the nearby Portes du Soleil.
With Richard and Julie's financial help it was possible to take on the restaurant at Mossettes, where views of the Dents du Midi and beyond are jaw-dropping - and access via the two Mossettes chairlifts (one from Les Lindarets on the French side, the other from Les Crosets on the Swiss side) is quick and easy.
But in September 2016, only three seasons into this enterprise, David took a well earnedwell-earned water sports holiday with like-minded, adventure seeking mates, on a giant catamaran, off the coast of New Caledonia in the south-west Pacific. In a freak accident - while kite surfing a mile off shore -– the 50-year-old suffered a powerful shark bite through his thigh. Despite desperate attempts to drag him aboard the catamaran, David lost critical amounts of blood, went into cardiac arrest and was pronounced dead shortly after by maritime rescue services.
“It was a huge shock and personal blow to us both”, said Richard, “but we didn't have long to decide whether or not to continue with Cookie Café, since preparations for the next ski season were already under way.”
They faced a number of challenges with licenceslicenses, suppliers, exchange rates and staff but with a lot of hard work, Cookie Café Mossettes has survived and evolved into an important Portes du Soleil institution with accolades galore, including a rating in the Daily Telegraph's Top Mountain Restaurants in the Alps.
The beef for the legendary Cookie burgers is sourced from a noted Swiss butcher and the buns still delivered from Charlet, the artisanal boulangerie near Villars. Craft beers from the canton of Valais, great wine list, homemade shakes, soups, salads and pizzas have all helped conjurconjure the Cookie culinary niche. For me, the success is as much to do with the laid back ambience, plush sofa suites, huge sun terrace with Swiss flag table cloths, the free wifi, the free phone charging units, the sought after playlists, the bar, the chill-out lounge, mini library with book exchange facility, the general, cool vibe that reflects its Australian creator, right down to the life-sized, colourful reindeer mounted in the snow outside, proven to be a hit photo-op for kids and adults alike.
“Last winter was our most successful yet”, said Richard. “DJ (as David was affectionately known), would be proud to see the popular following that Cookie now enjoys in the Portes du Soleil, especially that we now employ some of his top team from Villars. PAnd part of that success is down to our policy of price matching our menu to that of the best quality and best value restaurants on the French side, so our guests need not fear the Swiss Franc effect.”