FOOD AND WINE
Eating and drinking may not be the most important things on your ski holiday. Good snow, fine weather, comfy boots – these are what will make or break the trip.
But food is an obsession with us. It is the one thing we control totally. Most guests wouldn’t blame us if it snowed every day, they got sunburn or their spouse eloped with a ski instructor, but if dinner wasn’t the perfect end to a good day, or antidote to a bad one, they wouldn’t come again.
We remain one of the only companies offering a proper chalet holiday with meals served by, and daily cleaning done by, our own YSE staff. (We do not offer “Contactless Catering”, where food is delivered for you to cook, and you do all the clearing up afterwards! That formula may suit some people, particularly if it is very inexpensive, but it is certainly not what we’d call a Chalet Holiday.)
To comply with French law, we have to give staff two full days off. We have taken on extra staff to allow for this (as well as any injuries or illness), and our guests will hardly notice the difference. We will provide six dinners – five up to our normal gastronomic restaurant standard, and one a traditional Savoyarde tartiflette* with salad and fruit – as well as five cooked breakfasts and two continental. The chalet’s communal areas will be cleaned on six days per week and bedrooms on five. If you prefer to do without the sixth-evening tartiflette, we will deduct £25 from the price of each person’s holiday.
We start with a proper breakfast. Fruit juice, porridge, cereals from Rude Health, bacon, eggs, baguettes straight from the famous local bakery, yoghurt, tea and fresh coffee from Nespresso machines (with instant or infusions for those who prefer them) on five mornings. If that’s not what you consider a proper breakfast, please see our Serious Breakfast Optional Extra. On two mornings breakfast will be self-service with fresh croissants and pains au chocolat delivered to your chalet.
You return from the slopes to find bread and jam, a freshly-baked cake (except on staff days off), tea and coffee left out for you. If you would like hot chocolate, please inform your chalet staff (and tell them how you like it!).
Dinner is where we pull out all the stops on five nights of your holiday. Our policy on food is straightforward. We start with the best cuts of meat and the best fresh fruit and vegetables, not really counting the cost. Everything we need is available in Val d’Isère. Most people are very happy with our normal formula of canapés followed by a three-course, fixed-menu, dinner-party-style meal. The cuisine is largely French, though with a fusion of other influences – what Londoners call Modern British. (Foreign, in other words.)
But if there is a consensus in the chalet that lighter food, smaller portions or simpler meals would go down well, we’re very happy to adapt. If you want more or less, or hotter or colder, or earlier or later, just tell us.
A small proportion of our guests now needs or wishes to eat different food from the rest of their party. If you request a different diet, we will be able to offer one alternative meal so that the normal meal or this alternative will be suitable for vegetarians, dairy free, no red meat or no onions/no garlic (see the Different Diets page to see the full list). Please note that we can supply a vegan diet but charge a supplement of £50 for this.
Or you could tailor-make a menu for your party for the week and ask us to cook, say, two fish meals, one chicken, one red meat (when vegetarians can simply not have the meat) and one vegetarian meal – or whatever combination suits your group. This way everyone enjoys the same meals all together and, dare we say it, eats a little more healthily.
If a diet is more complicated than those mentioned above, we may have to make a charge for special ingredients but we will let you know in advance. If you want us to buy in special non-dairy milks and yoghurts there will be a charge in the resort, much the same way as the alternative wines mentioned below.
There are some diets we cannot cater for. We regret that we do not have the separate fridges, etc., required for Kosher diets, we do not have access to Halal meats, and we cannot guarantee that our chalets will be nut-free.
This is YSE’s thirty-first winter (as we can’t count 2020-21), and we honestly believe our cooking has steadily improved from year to year. We aren’t sure why. More professional chefs work for us, but even the cooks who’ve just learnt at home or on cookery courses seem to master dishes now they wouldn’t have attempted in the past.
Our pre-season in situ training course gives the cooks three to four weeks of hands-on cooking practice – more than they’d do in a year at cooking school. This is indispensable even for experienced chefs at 6,000 feet, where nothing cooks the same as at sea level.
With dinner, we serve free unlimited quantities of a selection of very drinkable French AOC wine and vin de pays. This is, unfortunately, only with dinner, not breakfast, and we stop serving the wine when the coffee appears.
We also have a wine list from which you can buy everything from slightly smarter wine to Châteaux Lafite-Rothschild or d’Yquem. We sell these wines at less than they cost because you are not drinking the house wine. The more you consume the more you save. Drink enough and you’ll pay for the holiday!
And if you prefer Krug Grande Cuvée to Dom Pérignon, just give the girls the dosh. They’ll be happy to get some in for you.
We are confident that you’ll eat at least as well in our chalets as in any of the local restaurants or hotels. But the toughest comparisons tend to be with previous YSE holidays. ‘Yes, she’s a wonderful cook, but you can’t beat Josh’s orange and butternut squash risotto, or Drew’s mushroom and port mille feuille.’ It keeps us on our toes.
- tartiflette: a traditional Savoyarde casserole of potato, cheese, bacon and onion, or a vegetarian version without the bacon.