An Interview with a Chalet Chef
Have you ever wanted to do a ski season as a Chalet Chef, but aren’t really sure what to expect? It’s easy to look through stuffy job descriptions or look online for advice and information about what your day-to-day life will be like out in resort, but we’ve gone one step further and have spoken to one of our Chalet Chefs to give you a real-life account of what it’s actually like!
Our chef, Louis, has been doing ski seasons as a Chalet Chef for the past few years, and is just getting ready to start his third winter out in the Alps. He has worked for some of our favourite clients and by this point, has seen it all when it comes to awkward guests, kitchen disasters and housekeeping duties.
We asked Louis what made him want to do his first ski season?
“Truthfully, I had never been skiing or snowboarding before, but I knew I wanted to go travelling, to explore new places, but I didn’t have the funds for the trip I wanted. I’d been a chef for my whole career, so thought I would look at a way to combine travelling with some work to keep me going. Being flown out to France and looked after for 5/6 months seemed too good to be true! [Most roles include accommodation, transport to resort, food, insurance and your lift pass as part of your salary package] I grabbed the opportunity with both hands and three years later, here I am!”
What does a typical day look like for a Chalet Chef?
“So you usually get up at around 7am, and head to the chalet to start breakfast; sometimes eggs benedict, maybe pancakes, etc. and always a full continental spread. Meanwhile, you’re making up your afternoon tea, and getting some prep done for that evening’s meal (if you haven’t already started it the day before). I always try and get as much done in the morning as you can. Between you and your host, you need to turn the chalet over so it looks brand new, which involves making the beds, hoovering, general cleaning and tidying, and then I’d say you’re usually out the door for 11 am. This means you can be on the mountain, suited up for 12pm! I’m a snowboarder, so me and my boys go off to shred some pow for a couple of hours, then head back home for a napres (nap + après!). Around 5pm it’s time to head back to the chalet to finish preparing dinner, then it’s time to serve your 4/5-course meal. Afterwards, it’s important to clean down, before you go home, (either to party or sleep) and start the whole day again tomorrow!”
What is the one dish that all guests love in your chalet?
“I have a lamb dish that always hits the spot. It is lamb, braised in red wine, rolled into rich lean ballotines. The braising liquid is then stained and turned into a spicy, Moroccan-style tomato and mustard sauce to drizzle over the lamb, and it is accompanied by crispy kale, sautéed kohlrabi and a Harissa yogurt. It’s a warming, filling and tasty dish that everyone likes (except the vegetarians of course).
Why did you use Silver Swan to help you find your roles?
“I’ve worked for agencies in the past – for almost 6 years now. I like to let them look for my work as they often find things that are a bit different. My first conversation with Philippa was back in 2015. She told me some very exiting things about what chalet cheffing is about, how it differs from standard cooking roles, and what is on offer in terms of progression. I was sold immediately. I’m now using Silver Swan for the 3rd year running and I’ve definitely progressed every year, in style, level, responsibility and wage.”
What other opportunities have opened up for you as a result of your ski seasons?
“ I would say that employers now take me on simply based on the fact that I’ve worked in some luxury chalets alone. I have a chef friend who wanted to see the type of work I get up to on my seasons, and so he hired me several times to do private functions for him in Cornwall. It also means when I feel I’m ready to move onto Yachts, my experience in the Alps will be invaluable, as they usually need previous fine dining and private cheffing experience. To be honest, it’s probably opened more doors then I’m even fully aware of over the summers and into the future.”
So there you have it! What to expect from a winter season, straight from a Chalet Chef himself. We couldn’t recommend a ski season enough to give you a great experience, meet new friends and, as Louis says, to open up doors for future career moves that you may never have thought of before. We recruit chefs (and many other positions!) for a range of properties in the Alps, from private chalets to luxury tour operators…and even entry-level positions for new chefs and cook/hosts. If you are interested in working in a chalet for the winter, then now is a great time to get in touch with your CV and a bit of information about what you are looking for. You can browse our vacancies here, or simply send us over your details to email@example.com. We can then help you start your career in the ski industry!