February 18, 2014
Fondue virgins, take note. There are rules when it comes to fondue, and you best pay attention, otherwise prepare to pucker up or ante up, depending on your gender.
"Tradition says that if a man loses his item in the pot, he buys the next round of drinks. If a woman loses her item in the pot, she must kiss her neighbors."
This morsel of info is included in the "Traditions and Etiquette" section of a flier that Derek George, owner of the newest food delivery service in town, Fondue at Home, drops off with the fondue spread as part of his new business venture. He likens Fondue at Home to something in between pizza delivery and a private chef, but after experiencing it firsthand recently, we can attest it's much more similar to the latter of the two options.
Simple, yet amazing
On Valentine's Day Eve, George showed up at our door with a big plastic box containing fixings for a three-course fondue experience for four people, complete with both cheese and chocolate fondue, two fondue pots, forks, a fondue burner, lighter and fuel.
He only asked that we provide a handful of serving items: four plates, four small bowls, two larger bowls and a platter. Immediately, George went to work in the kitchen, preparing the cheese fondue and plating the food. It's about 30 minutes from the time he walks in the door, to when he slips back out it, leaving behind a convivial party centered around a red fondue pot filled with bubbling, creamy cheese.
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George does much more than hand you a box of food — he dons a white apron, heads straight for the stove, whips up the cheese fondue and then prepares bowls of cubed French bread, blanched broccoli, hunks of ham (he'll do roasted fingerling potatoes if you're a vegetarian), cubes of apple, cocktail onions and gherkins.
If you opt for the three-course option, George will leave a mixed green salad with homemade Dijon vinaigrette (another family recipe), traditionally eaten between the fondue courses. He leaves chocolate fondue, a simple-yet-amazing blend of semi-sweet chocolate chips melted into warm cream with a pinch of salt, warming on the stove. The decadent chocolate is served with pieces of pound cake and fresh fruit, such as strawberries, bananas and kiwis.
The three courses will run you $50 per person ($35 per person for just the cheese fondue), with a two-person minimum requirement. It's more than enough food for dinner, but it would be a very fun apres spread as well. The thought of having George meet you at your house or condo after a day on the mountains and having him prepare the food while you change out of ski gear sounds pretty amazing. After you're done, you simply pack up the forks, pots, burner and any other supplies in the box and leave it outside your door; George will swing back by and collect it.
'Something special about fondue'
George's love for fondue started young, passed along from his parents who traveled to Switzerland, eating the national dish at restaurants throughout the country. They made fondue for the family back at home, instilling in George a lifelong appreciation for the gooey, communal style of eating.
"It was our family tradition," George said, confirming that indeed, his recipe for traditional Swiss cheese fondue — a combination of cave-aged Gruyere and Emmentaler cheeses, melted into white wine and topped with kirschwasser and finished with a touch of nutmeg — is a family secret.
Now with his own family, fondue is a tradition George continues. He and his wife, Jodi Link, host fondue parties with friends often at their home in Avon, and their one-and-a-half year old daughter, Indiana Rose, already loves cheese fondue, George said.
"I just love the social aspect of fondue," George said. "It's so fun to have friends over and have fondue. It's just more fun than just having dinner; for some reason, there's just something special about fondue."
For those interested in wine pairings, be sure to ask George to take care of that detail as well. He can pick up pairings he recommends from a local wine shop for you. The crisp white wine he paired alongside for our fondue party, Pierre Boniface Domaine les Rocailles Apremont from Savoie, France, cut through the sharpness of the cheese.
"It has these beautiful, subtle fruit flavors and citrus characteristics," George said. "And it's nice and light too, which is important when eating heavier-style foods, like cheese fondue."
Word of mouth
With a background in food and wine (George is a sommelier) and an entrepreneurial spirit, it wasn't a stretch to start a fondue delivery business.
"I love fondue, and I basically thought other people would love fondue, too," he said. "I hadn't seen anything like that around here, so I thought it'd be a great business here in the Vail Valley."
The Avon resident came up with the idea in December and promptly built a website (www.fondueathome.com), set up a mobile app for payment, enabling him to use his iPhone to accept credit card payments — "There are lots of cool tools for entrepreneurs out there now," he said — and launched the business in January.
So far, feedback has been all positive.
"People are really excited about it," George said. "So far, all of my clients have been from word of mouth, that's pretty cool. People are telling their friends about it."
For more informaion, call 844-4-FONDUE or visit http://www.fondueathome.com.
High Life Editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at 970-748-2984 and firstname.lastname@example.org.