Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No. It’s “Gluten Boy”.

My brother and his girlfriend have just been out for a few days. Not much skiing but did get utterly wasted. Typical. The food, it has to be said, is not always brilliant out here. Go to a random restaurant on the high street and grab a burger and its not gonna be great. It will be expensive…. But rarely brilliant. We did go to La Savoy for a few drinks one evening –  proper classy- it was great to get away from what is basically a student lifestyle. Not every seasonairre’s smashing €60 on a bottle of wine – let alone five times in one sitting. But just like the fine wines… you can find good food here if you go to the right places. We didn’t. We stuck to the wine.

It was good timing having them here, and much needed. I was starting to miss home. And the finer things.

On their last day we headed over to Meribel Mottaret for lunch (There’s Meribel Centre, where I’m staying, and then five minutes to the left is Meribel Village, which is smaller, or five to the right and you’ve got Mottaret). Before finding somewhere to eat we headed through the town to find La Lac (which effectively is… the lake). At this time of year it is frozen over and fucking beautiful. There’s a hut on the other side where you can get a bite to eat but we just got a beer… obviously. Then we went to find a restaurant with a veranda and watch the skiers wiping out or being stretchered down. Cheap entertainment – not so cheap food. €18 for a croziflette – a regional speciality which is basically a Mac ’n’ Cheese with Reblochon on top. It tasted great and my Big Sam paid for it so even better!! They drove me back and headed on to catch the flight back to London Town. I couldn’t work out whether I wanted to join them or not.

Not, it seems; I went skiing today and remembered how lucky I am.

The work is starting to feel easier. Had a big wobble about a week ago. At times I feel I can’t do it and at others it is easy. Breakfast for eighteen? Piece of piss. And three courses for eighteen are starting to seem pretty drama-free too. At times. Of course there’s still the odd moment when I’m looking at the prep list blue-tacked to the wall and I bang my head up against it and wonder what the fuck I’m doing here and If I’m gonna get it done tonight. I do. I always have. But sometimes it’s pretty daunting.

New guests. Last weeks’ were brilliant. There was one particular group who were a real laugh. Three of them used to work for the same company and two of those had met on the season and had come back to propose. They’d all bought t-shirts with “will you marry me” spelled out. Think she got the idea. She definitely got a ring. If you want it…

So they went off and we welcomed a new set. One couple have been at the same chalet seven years in a row so I better be on my toes. Ironic. She broke her foot yesterday. Poor lass.
They’re another easy group in so much as: easy to get along with and, from the selfish chef perspective, not too many dietary requirements. There’s a ‘no egg’… I knew about that… but the ‘no gluten’ was a bit of a surprise.
We get a manifest that tells us of any allergies etc that the guests have noted but I always ask when I introduce myself on the first evening and up until now there’s been a silence and then I say: “good, we can all get along then” and everyone laughs. Not this time. Had to wait a bit for my laugh because when I asked one gent said ‘yep I’ve actually got an intolerance to gluten”. Shit. Wasn’t expecting that.

I was quickly running through my menu back in the kitchen… what am I gonna have to change for tonight. Nothing. Good.

So I go out and talk them through the menu for the evening.

“ So we’ve got:

Sweet Potato, Coconut and Chilli Soup.

Beef Bourguignon with a green panache… which is lots of green veg… get it in now because you’ll not be seeing many more of them this week…” They laugh.

I pause. I look at the gent in front of me. He’s probably just hit sixty. And before I can stop myself I’ve said it:

“Except for you: ‘Gluten Boy’”

He’s sixty for fuck sake. In front of people he’s never met. And it’s an intolerance.
Awkward. Where did that come from?

Everybody laughs. Including him. Thank fuck.
Testing the waters!!!

He said later he has been looking for a new super hero name, might get a t-shirt with a big ‘G’ on it, and was particularly pleased to be called ‘boy’. Lad.

So we’ve been having a fun week, except for our poor northerner who snapped the tibia. My brother and his girlfriend were a well needed distraction, and “Gluten boy”’s enjoying the food. More than my brother enjoyed his three burgers anyway. Maybe don’t come to Meribel  and expect to find a Byron.


_e1a5496Swarve. Un Lac dans Mottaret.

_e1a5507A Long Walk To Freedom.

img_0026Canapés: Somosa Cigars.


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