For all you Chalet Hosts and Chefs heading out on a Ski Season shortly, it must be that time of year, when you are trying to perfect your weekly menu plan. Knowing that it needs to WOW your guests as well as staying within (what can sometimes be a fairly tight) budget. But don’t worry. This guide will help you to create the perfect plan for the whole week, ensuring your guests get what they want and need. While also being stunned by your culinary genius.
Breakfast needs to be quick, simple, impressive and varied. Remember, a lot of your guests will be wanting to catch first lifts which means early risers and big appetites. Every day the table will be laid with continental options but it is down to you to fuel their day with a hot option.
Most chalets hosts/chefs get 1 day off per week (usually mid-week)so you only need to think of 6 days’ worth of food.Something that looks really impressive, doesn’t always need to be time-consuming. A stack of American pancakes for example. The batter will be quick and simple, plus it’s really easy to batch cook the pancakes and hot hold them in the oven until needed. Giving you more time to prep for your other meals. Alternative ideas include eggs benedict or sausage beans and home-made hash browns.
For transfer day your guests could be leaving very early in the morning so why not opt for big bacon baguettes? A quick fix on a busy morning!
After a big day on the mountain, your guests are going to be starving. Part of your job will be presenting a daily cake (or biscuits). But don’t panic, there’s no need to scour your cookbooks, the well-known yogurt cake is a firm favorite for all chalet staff. Altitude means normal cakes don’t rise properly, but this recipe will never fail you. One day you can add carrot, raisins and spices for a delicious carrot cake, the next you can simply fill it with jam and cream for the perfect Victoria sponge. Simple.
Of course, you can mix this up a bit, mince pies at Christmas, flapjacks on a Friday, but make sure you always make enough. How gutted would you be if you came in last from the mountain and someone had eaten the last slice?!
This is something you need to consider throughout your whole menu plan. You don’t want to waste food but nor do you want your guests to go hungry. Spend some time write out exact ingredients and quantities, this will also help you keep within your budget. Over-ordering can be a nightmare not
just for the purse strings but also for your storage! Make sure you consider where things are going to fit (think about freezer, fridge, and cupboards)
In chalets, dinner is usually 3-5 courses. When planning your main meals, you need to think about the kind of meal this is going to be. Is it a fine dining menu or a homely family style meal? Either way, you want your food to impress everyone, which also means taking into account dietary requirements. You will usually be warned in advance if any of your guests have any specific requirements, but it’s always worth checking in person when they get there. How embarrassing would it be if you served up a steak to a vegetarian because you hadn’t got the memo! Make sure there are always some back up ingredients in the cupboards for any surprise vegetarians, vegans or gluten frees.
A canapé is a small savoury bite usually served with drinks. Note the word small, this should be something they can eat in one bite, they have a big meal ahead and you don’t want your guests full before they’ve even started. You can make something very simple look elaborate without having to use many ingredients at all. Smoked salmon and cream cheese blinis take minutes to make yet when delicately placed on a slate board and topped with a small bit of fresh dill-they suddenly look far more glamorous.
Other ideas include Sticky Pigs in Blankets (particularly suitable around Christmas time) and Mini Croque Monsieurs. As with all of the items on your meal plan, this is a great one to practice at home for friends and family.
It is often a misconception that your starter should be vegetarian, however, to make it easier for yourself, you should make it so that the meat element of the meal is easily substitutable for any dislikes/dietary requirements.
Another factor to think about is the variety of ingredients. You wouldn’t want to serve Tomato and basil soup, followed by chicken tagine and an apple crumble with custard.
- HOT HOT HOT, you should include at least one cold element in each meal.
- Two tomatoes-both your started and main are made with a tomato based.
- All 3 courses contain a fair bit of liquid, mix the textures up a bit.
Suitable starters would be carrot and ginger soup, goats cheese and caramelised onion bruschetta or asparagus, Parma ham with a poached egg.
This course needs to be filling and hearty, yet also presentable on a plate. When you are designing your meals, its sometimes useful to draw out how you would present each element on the plate. Choose your meat, carb, veg and sauce, then go from there. You will be plating up for quite a few people in one go so nothing too complicated.
Usually in chalets you will be serving each person an individual plate but occasionally its quite nice to ‘family serve’. I used to make a Tartiflette once a week, a totally delicious, traditional French meal that when whole looks amazing, but not so great when it’s been served up. Pop the whole thing on the table with a charcuterie board and a big leafy salad – your guests will be impressed for sure.
Desserts are simple, there are so many to choose from, most can be prepped in the morning which is a stress saver in the evening (this will help maximise your time on the mountain too).
Again, avoid repetition. You must consider what you have done for afternoon tea, if you have made Chocolate Cake that day, don’t have a Chocolate Brownie for dessert too. Maybe chose a Lemon Cheesecake for dessert. Similarly, a Tarte Tatin on Monday followed by an Apple Crumble on Tuesday = Apple overload! Mix it up. Just like the canapés, desserts are easy to dress up, add a coulis or petit four on the side to amaze your guests. Something very simple can then become a showpiece.
There is not much to say about the cheese board, just make sure you get a variety. 3 different cheeses should be enough, remember they’ve had a big meal. They don’t want to be overwhelmed. Accompany this will some grapes or sliced apple, a small selection of bread and crackers – winner! This can often be left out for a while as people may want to pick throughout the evening with their glass of red wine.
So that is my advice to you!
Organisation is key, make sure you fully understand your own menu,
write a shopping shopping list, you can amend the quantities weekly to avoid over ordering.
Enjoy your season!
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