Mount Abbey home to world class chef (an expert skier)

From the Mount Angel Letter, Mount Angel Abbey,
By Abbot Peter Eberle, OSB

In the Rule, Saint Benedict declares that monks should take turns cooking for the community. Such an arrangement probably created some unique misadventures in dining. (“That’s OK, Brother Pambo. I’ll pass on the stew. Just hand me the Pepto-Bismol, please.”) Times have changed. Today many monasteries have hired cooks to manage their kitchens. However, it is rare that a world-class chef should hold that position. Six years ago Mount Angel Abbey found itself in this enviable position when Hans d’Alessio was hired as head chef and manager of the Abbey kitchen.

Born in Interlachen, Switzerland, right at the foot of the Alps, Hans’ early ambitions were in professional skiing and racecar driving. Fortunately for countless future diners, both professions were financially out of reach so the young Hans pursued another dream, to become a chef.

Much hard work and undoubtedly native ability turned this dream into reality. After several apprenticeships and chef positions in Swiss resorts, he was invited to work in Aspen, Colorado. Such a deal for a chef who is also an avid skier! Later he moved to Seattle where he began his career with the Westin Hotel chain as the chef in the Space Needle. When the Westin acquired The Benson Hotel in Portland, they turned to Hans to manage the kitchen. Finally, when asked to transfer to Houston, Hans found himself unwilling to leave the Northwest. Hans opened his own restaurant, the very successful Forest Inn at Alder Creek, a few miles east of Sandy. Later he moved to Salem where he established the renowned Inn at Orchard Heights.

In 2002, having been retired for a couple of years he saw a want ad in the paper for a cook. He knew not where — the ad was not overly detailed – but he applied anyway. The rest, as they say, is history. After six years of hard work, Hans has the Abbey kitchen in good shape, and no one, as he puts it  “has got skinny.” Recently he is starting to find time to get himself in shape so he can keep up with his grandchildren when they go swooshing down the slopes.

— Mount Angel is wonderful place to experience.  For information on their seminary, library, retreat houses and festivals go here.

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