By Royal Barnard, Editor Emeritus
I am saddened to learn that the Killington Region has lost a wonderful and important person. I, and other “pioneer” Killington residents and visitors, met Claude Blais when he became chef at the once popular Alpine Inn on the Killington Road in the mid 1960s.
Claude migrated to Killington from Derby Line on the Canadian border in the Northeast Kingdom. Claude (pronounced by him, more in French as “Cloud”) was a graduate CIA Chef and he was more than “good” … he was great. He was great in his ability to assemble and maintain a professional staff, create and serve sustainable and wonderful meals and to do so in a kind and hard working manner. Claude expected nothing more out of staff than he did himself… which was perfection… every day.
My wife, Zip, and I, were among the first diners at the Alpine Inn and we followed Claude wherever he went. In 1986 our relationship with Claude as friend expanded as an advertiser during our 25-year term as owners of the Mountain Times. I am confident that current Mountain Times owners, Jay and Polly, share our sentiments for Claude.
Claude was a kind man who enjoyed life no matter how hard the work or the commitment to his profession. Many aspiring restaurant owners think restaurant ownership might be easy, but it’s not. It’s a very difficult undertaking. While dealing with hundreds of advertisers at the Mountain Times we saw the majority of hopefuls fail. Claude lasted decades and would be serving clients today if he could.
I had the privilege of some “Birthday Chef School” visits with Claude as a gift from my life partner, Zip. I was not a complete amateur to food service, having worked several years in college as a very busy short order “cook” and later being fairly decent in the home kitchen. I know a good chef when I see one. I learned valuable skills, had fun, and grew enormous respect for Claude.
In his personal life Claude enjoyed rest and relaxation trips to The Island, promoting hospitality and enjoyment in the community, and loving his friends. One could not do better with their life. Thank you Claude. Ride on the winds, “Cloud.”