A quest for passion

Anneke Van Sande tells us her dining room story. And her love found in a kitchen in Verbier

Anneke and the kitchen team at Chalet d'Adrien: t

Anneke and the kitchen team at Chalet d'Adrien: this was a life-changing experience for her, it made her learn many important and different things, from filleting a fish to taking care of every detail. Today she uses these skills at restaurant Chez Dany, also in Verbier

There are people who have always known their destiny. Football players, doctors, scientists, musicians that grow up with a talent, a dream and go for it. These are often big succes stories.
For me it has been a chain of coincidences through the years that brought me to realise what I am destined to do.

At 18 years old I finished my science and art diploma in Belgium. Afterwards I jumped to law school for 4 years. Very useful for an accurate picture on society. Next idea was to learn Spanish at my uncle's restaurant La Tomaca Blava in Altea, Spain. There I met a friend who got me into the following adventure: becoming a flight attendant. Thought me infinite patience. Then came dispatching at a car assistance company. My colleagues and boss were the best. I got to improve my French and German. My interest in cars never came but at the time, I felt perfectly happy to settle for the big image and signed a fixed contract.

ON HOLIDAY. Anneke and husband Mirto Marchesi, who conquered a Michelin star working as chef at Chalet d'Adrien

ON HOLIDAY. Anneke and husband Mirto Marchesi, who conquered a Michelin star working as chef at Chalet d'Adrien

March 2011 was the first time I went skiing in Verbier, Switzerland. The scenery was just breathtaking. The idea of working and living there appeared in my head and never got out.  About three months later I went to talk about it with my boss. I will always be grateful for her reaction. She thought I should go for it. She didn't want me to regret ignoring my gut feeling. Most importantly, she reassured me that if something went wrong, I would be welcome to return. No risks. I needed a job in Verbier!

All staff seemed hired though, so short to summer season. Just 3 days before I got a phone call from Chalet d'Adrien. The only 5 star hotel in town! Score! Only, they didn't call for a job at the reception as I applied for, they wanted me in service... Hey, at least it bought me some time. I had no idea what I got myself into. The army is probably the best way to explain what it is like for outsiders of the business. Discipline. Order. Ranks.
The only way I would survive summer was going to be to play this game. Funny thing was that this acceptance soon changed into sincere appreciation.

Chez Dany, Anneke’s current workplace, one of the most popular restaurants in Verbier

Chez Dany, Anneke’s current workplace, one of the most popular restaurants in Verbier

The year I worked at Chalet d'Adrien was definitely the most important one in my life. It has blessed me with a serious vision on service. It has brought a long list of new skills. From filleting fish and a basic knowledge of wines, to an eye for perfection. I got promoted. Talking too much all of a sudden became a quality. Every day I practised my 5 languages. My patience turned out to be extremely useful. On top of that I fell madly in love with a guy from the kitchen.

Soon we made a joint choice to separate business and private, to work in different restaurants. Good thing Verbier had the perfect opportunities. I was breakfast responsible at a Nevai Hotel and ran their coffee house Kings Café with the best profit it ever made. Today I serve at Chez Dany: one of the most popular restaurants around. I speeded up and developed a calmness at the same time. Everyday clients thank me for my smile.

I am happy to feel passion. I found it in the dining room. This time the enthusiasm just keeps growing and growing. My boyfriend turned chef at Chalet d'Adrien and is now rewarded with a Michelin star. He told his mom he was going to, at about 7 years old. «There's nowhere you can be that isn't where you're meant to be.» John Lennon once said. The road is not that important after all.

See also
Challenging oneself in Norway by Lucia Tellone
I want to make bread
by Roberta Pezzella
So young for everything
by Rosanna Marziale
Rigour and cheerfulness by Serenella Medone
The chef from Northern Naples by Marianna Vitale
In team with my mother
by Serena D'Alesio
Men, what a disaster
by Marzia Buzzanca
A total vocation
by Antonella Ricci
A full life
by Maria De La Paz
Mind and heart
by Marta Grassi
Effort with a smile
by Nadia Moscardi
Nothing is impossible by Emanuela Tommolini
The other side of the dish
by Elisa Arduini
Giving value to differences by Viviana Varese
Weaker sex? Not at all by Sara Preceruti
Double effort by Iside De Cesare
Dear Santa Claus by Ana Roš
I am a cook by Antonia Klugmann
Talent has nothing to do with gender by Aurora Mazzucchelli
It’s not easy but it’s not impossible either by Loretta Fanella
We’re not angels of the hearth by Cristina Bowerman


Female chef's life stories

Women who, for a moment, leave pots and pans to tell us their experience and point of view