I am currently working as a chalet chef on my third ski season in La Tania in the French Alps. When I did my first season, I really didn’t think I’d be back for a third and making it into more of career choice. It is a great job with an awesome lifestyle. Being a ‘seasonnaire’ can often be hard work with long hours but those times are totally worth it for the days you get snowboarding in the epic French mountains. If you’re contemplating becoming a chalet chef but not really sure what it’s all about then I’m going to tell you!
This is what I get up to on a typical day in the Alps.
7.00 am – Wake up!
Sometimes there may have been a huge dump of fresh snow so that needs to be cleared before breakfast can be prepared. If there isn’t any, then I’ll whack the oven on and get my cake made for afternoon tea.
7.30 am – Hungry guests rise
I begin preparing the hot breakfast options such as porridge, bacon, sausages and/or eggs. There is a different hot selection every day for the guest to choose from. Usually by this time, some of the early rising chalet guests are starting to appear and I have boiled the kettle so coffee and tea is available. My lovely host, Pete, sets up the table for breakfast with a range of cereals, jams and spreads.
8.00 am – Breakfast begins
The chalet guests appear in dribs and drabs to feed themselves up for the day. There is a lot of chatter about the weather, snow conditions and where they are going to ski that day. We offer a baguette service so we begin to make any that have been ordered so the guests can have a picnic on the piste.
8.45 am – Have a good day!
The guests have been fed and caffeine booted and are getting ready to hit the slopes. Breakfast has stopped being served and children are being bundled off to ski school. The more laid back skiers will relax in the lounge area until they are ready to leave. The dining table gets cleared and is set for afternoon tea. Prep begins for the evening meal.
9.o0 am – Prep prep prep
I tend to prepare as much as I can for the evening meal as it gives you more time in the mountains. I usually have finished all my food prep between 10.30 am and 11.00 am and have cleaned my kitchen. It can vary from day to day depending on the what has happened the night before at the pub! I try to aim for on or before 11.00 am so I can make the most of my day on the mountains.
So between the hours of 11.00 am and 6.00 pm is your time to do whatever you want! In the resort of La Tania and Courchevel, there is lots to do other than just skiing and snowboarding. You can go hiking, relax at Aquamotion swimming pool, visit the local bars, cafes and restaurants, go ice skating, shopping, bowling… whatever takes your fancy!
6.00 pm – Three course dinner
I come back into the chalet kitchen after a great day out in the mountains. I have a catch up natter with the guests then get started on cooking their dinner. I worked for the company Snow Retreat. Their delicious menu has been specifically designed to be mainly prepared in the morning then easily executed in the evening. It is filling, home cooked food that is what you need after a long day in the mountains.
6.30 pm – Hostess with the mostess!
My chalet host arrives to set up the dinner table and help with any salad preparation. Whatever I am cooking, such as tartiflette or lasagne will be put in the oven and starter and dessert preparation will be finalised.
7.30 pm – Dinner time
When everybody is ready we lay the starters and freshly sliced baguette on the table and call the guests to the table. The host serves wine and checks everyone is okay. All being well the guests will enjoy their dinner and they will be full and satisfied. When the evening meal is finished, I tidy the kitchen and set the dishwasher off.
10.00 pm – Time for the pub!
If you haven’t had enough of making breakfast, skiing all day, après and serving dinner then there are events every evening revolving around socialising, drinking beer/toffee vodka and dancing to live music. This is when you can meet other seasonnaires working in the same resort, where you can let off steam and have even more fun!
If working on a ski season is something you are thinking about then I definitely recommend it. There are a variety of different jobs too, not just traditional chalet work. Don’t be put off if you think you’re too old either, ski resorts generally aren’t full of 18 year old gap year kids. I know retired couples running chalets and people who are just taking a break from the “real” world.