Executive chef at Chesa CheesefondueisthehotpotoftheWest.Abubblingpot of melted cheese and wine served over an open flame, this ultimate winter warmer is beloved in Europe, particularly in the Alps. “Cheese fondue is very important in Switzerland,” says Florian Trento, executive chef at The Peninsula Hong Kong’s Swiss restaurant,Chesa.“Almosteveryfamilyhasapotandburnerathome and willeatitonceamonthorevenonceaweekduringwinter.” Trento’s passion for cooking began with a one-week internship at a Swiss motorway rest stop with six food joints. He continued his culinary career in Saudi Arabia before moving to Hong Kong in 1987 to join The Peninsula as sous chef. Twenty years on, Trento is now the group executive chef for The Peninsula Hotels and executive chef at Chesa. As a teenager he would have cheese fondue with friends ataclassmate’shome.“Iusedtohavecheesefondueevery Wednesday. We really enjoyed it, especially with the company of each other,” he says. “Also the discovery of Swiss white wines, which was especially great when you were only 16.” Literallytranslatingto“meltedcheese”,fondueoriginatesfrom the French part of Switzerland, where it is a national dish. It is typicallyenjoyedwithcubesofbreadfordunkingandcoldcuts or a salad are sometimes served beforehand. While fondues vary across Switzerland, it is the concept of sharing that draws diners tothedish.“Havingfondueisasocialactivity.Itisaboutsharing since it brings people together. Often we will have [fondue] for dinner since people will have more time to enjoy it.” As jetting around the world becomes more common, so does the ability to experience different cuisines. Authenticity is important to Trento, so for Chesa’s classic fondue he uses two types of cheese – a mixture of mild and strong flavours – along withatouchofgarlicandwhitewine.Herecommendsbuying cheese from specialist stores rather than supermarkets since freshcheeseisthesecrettoagoodfondue.“Agoodcheese should be around one year old. It can’t be too old or it will be too salty,” he says. Themeltedcheesemustbecontinuouslystirredsoitdoesn’t burn.However,foratrulyauthenticfinishtothemeal,Trento recommends letting the last bit of cheese crisp up and turn golden brown at the bottom of the pot. Called la religieuse (French for “nun”), this cheesy crust has a crunchy bite. It is also common to add an egg to la religieuse to make a cheesy scrambled egg. It’s not the only fondue tradition. “Anyone who loses his bread inthefonduehastobuyaroundofdrinksforthetable,”he says. It is traditionally paired with wine or alcoholic black tea tocutthroughthegreasygoodness.AccordingtoSwisslore, other liquids, water included, will cause the melted cheese to coagulateinyourstomachandcauseindigestion.Trento’sfinal tipistohavefunandenjoysharingthisgreatdish.“Fondueis averyeasydishtomake,butitisabouttheatmosphereandthe company you bring that makes the cheese fondue experience different,” he says.