You’ve spent a week in the mountains and don’t want to leave – we know that feeling. But what’s it like to ‘do a season’ and how do you go about finding a job? We asked Christina Hadden of The Hive Cookery School, which offers summer courses training up Chalet Hosts.
“Chalet hosting is extremely competitive, but if you’re willing to learn we can get anyone cooking to a good standard within 2 weeks. Even if you couldn’t boil an egg before, by the end of the week you’ll be serving up peppered duck with mushroom ragout and vanilla mash.
Learning the job in the Alps gives you an authentic experience. You get stunning scenery, the chance to try all the mountain activities and, most importantly, you get to know the quirks of French kitchens. Many chalets in the Alps were kitted out in the 1970s and haven’t changed since.
Did you know that altitude has an effect on your cooking? You’ll hear it commonly used as an excuse for sunken cakes, which is a problem that can be overcome with the right amount of baking powder. The boiling temperature of water is lower at altitude so vegetables and eggs take longer to cook too.
There are so many aspects to the job – budgeting, shopping, presentation. One of the most difficult things is cooking for large numbers, so we make sure every student produces a 3-course meal for 8 to10 people. We invite locals to taste the food and give the students serving practice.
Hosting is hard work. Your day starts at 7.30am preparing breakfast. Often you get a few hours’ break during the day then you’re back on the dinner shift. But if you’re organised and efficient, you can manage the job and get lots of ski time in – let’s face it that’s why you’re here!
Replacing staff who couldn’t hack it is a problem for tour operators, so now many insist you go on a course like ours. If you’re properly trained and know what to expect, everyone gets more out of it.
We help our students apply for jobs. Many tour operators ask you to design a 6-day menu plan and the trick is to get the most from all your ingredients and budget. Use up what’s left from dinner one night in canapés the next, for example.
We get a complete cross section of people on the course, from teens fresh from exams to older people looking for a new adventure in early retirement. All those that have applied for jobs after the course have been successful.”
Hive Cookery School, based in Plan Peisey, Paradiski, run 1 or 2-week courses from July to September.
Click here for some Hive Cookery School recipes.