Fondue Stube: Melting tradition and cheese since the 1970s

Written by Anna Husted on at

Beginning in the 1970s, Chet's Bar had a traditional fondue stube with Austrian singers, servers, and cheesy hot goodness in every pot. After a hiatus, the stube reopened a few years back and is better than ever. Cheese, oil, chocolate, and interactive eating, what a grand idea.

Originating in the confluence of Switzerland, Italy and France, this communal pot (called a caquelon) over a portable stove (a rechaud) was made fashionable by the Swiss as a way to increase cheese consumption, and therefore, cheese sales in the early 1900s. Fondue was then popularized in America at the 1964 World's Fair. Then, not long after, at Big Sky Resort.

Fondue means "to melt," and the first written fondue recipe called for the melting of cheese and wine as a dip for bread. At Big Sky Resort's Fondue Stube I had the chance to drink a glass of wine, while dipping bread in a melted pot of cheese (Gruyere and Emmentaler). This palatable experience was as delicious as it sounds, and it only gets better. I sat around the table with friends, none of whom had experienced fondue before, and we became curious about fondue's origin story as we ordered our second course of hot oil for elk, shrimp and chicken. What we found most surprising was that fondue, as silly and entertaining as it can be, has its own formal etiquette. For instance, if a man loses his piece of food in the communal pot he must buy a round of drinks for the table, and if a woman loses her piece of food in the pot, she much kiss those she is sitting next to. It is not proper etiquette to double dip any food, and the dipping fork is only used for dipping and not to be used for eating. Finally, beverage choice is important when eating fondue, but it varies from country to country. In the United States anything goes, but in Switzerland white wine or black tea is the way to go to avoid any cultural embarrassment.

The Fondue Stube at Chet's, where flavors mingle and stories will be told.
-Anna

Cheese
The Cheese Fondue Experience with apples and bread

Apples and Bread and Wine
The Cheese Fondue Experience with a glass of red

Main fondue course
Aged Elk Tenderloin Entree dipped in oil fondue

Shrimp in fondue
Tempura Tiger Shrimp Entree with batter 

Fondue forks
All four forks in the Fondue Oil

Chocolate Fondue
Chocolate Fondue with bananas, cherries, strawberries, mint marshmellows, chocolate cookie dough, and pound cake.