The following is the day in the life of a Chalet Chef Seassonaire. A day in my life… currently.
The clock reads 6.59 as I turn over and pull a warm, comforting breath. That minute clicks on and Radio Meribel’s smooth DJ gives me my reason to get up. “… as overnight 25 centimetres fell all the way down to street level: no need to stay up high today. Not a cloud in the sky so get out and enjoy the sun and that snow”. I roll over and out of bed, catch myself smiling in the mirror, grab my towel and jump in the shower.
Before long the breads arrived, croissants are out of the oven and the pans are a-buzz. One for scrambled, one sizzling with la beurre et la champignons. Another two hold water for the dippy’s and the poached and below in the oven the bacon’s crisping. Today’s gonna be a good day and it starts out heartily.
I’m in my chalet which caters for 18 guests. There are three of us : two hosts and myself. We pride ourselves in making sure they have the best week possible: nothing’s too much trouble. It’s a basic that you can choose your eggs but here you get a three-course evening meal with options for each one. And a cheese board. And afternoon tea.
The checks fly in. Three scrambled, two poached, one fried egg hold the mushrooms. Everyones up early today longing to be the ones to grab those first tracks. All this means breakfast is done by 9 and I’m onto my afternoon tea: Hummingbirds Chocolate Fudge cake. No problems. Whipped that out many a time and it’s a doddle. Next a little prep for tonights meal and a quick wipe down. I’m not sure how we used so few pans this morning.
We change and are on the chairlift right behind the guests. The snow is epic. Some of the best runs we’ve had. We get a solid five hours in, fill our ski boots with the apres, jump in the shower again and onto evening service.
The three courses are a doddle and we’re out by 9.30 and down Le Pub with the rest. A few beers and time for kip: we’re in early tomorrow and hoping for that little bit more snow… which comes.
NOT!!!! That is not how it goes.
So this is how it really is:
The alarm is screeching on my left as I turn in agony to slap the snooze: I cracked three ribs the other day. My fault. It’s icy out there though.
I eventually manage to pull myself up and get the water tepid and step under the drizzle. I’ve barely enough time to wash before stepping out into the cold (careful not to slip on the ice – again) and into an even colder van. It’s pitch black as we wind our way up the curving mountain to our chalet. It’s a mad rush before the guests come down. My gas oven takes an gage to heat up and when its hot it’s burning (burning hot and burning everything). I’m three espressos in before the guests trickle in. They invariable all ask for different types of eggs all at the same time and soon I’m seven checks down.
How have I managed to use every damned pan in the kitchen. I need to wash up and then get prepping for dinner. I’ve got three courses with two options for each course. And then a third option for someone who decided to be a gluten intolerant vegan who doesn’t like peppers or cucumbers or onions or anything really. An apple? (That hasn’t happened yet).
It feels hardly worth going skiing by the time we’re done but we’re here for a reason so up we go for an hour on the ice. On the ice because it hasn’t snowed in weeks.
Back for service which takes much longer than it should and then to washing up again… which takes much longer than it should.
We walk down the hill for half an hour to our staff accommodation to find that everyone else is already out having fun. We decided we’ve had enough ‘fun’ for one day and should probably just… get to bed. All again tomorrow!!!
Seems a bit harsh. I suppose the life of a chalet chef is somewhere in between. It’s definitely not all play. Its long and it’s tiring… but as soon as you’re on that chairlift being risen up to the fresh snow, headphones blasting… all that washing up and all those vegans suddenly seem well worth it 😉 An apres not bad either. This is one of those things that you do in life and look back on thinking: I had a bloody great time…you won’t remember the washing up. Or you can look back and think: why didn’t I do that? Why didn’t I do a season. There’s still plenty of time. And plenty of snow. Sometimes.