It’s 3am. You’re on a coach bombing through France. Someone is snoring. Loudly.
You need to pee but the toilet stinks to the heavens and has dubious fluids on the floor. A tall guy has abandoned decorum and is randomly sleeping in the aisle, comically sliding forward with every jab of the brake. Your teeth are fluffy, you’re regretting that bag of service station McCoy’s, and you definitely smell.
Your mental state is likewise discombobulated.
You are all too aware that in a week you’ll be cooking three course meals, every day, for maybe twenty strangers. You’ll be living in a ski resort. You can’t ski, you hate the cold, and you can’t really cook.
But yet, here you are. And after almost 20 hideous hours, you’re in the Alps. La Tania, Corchevel.
Welcome to your first ski season!
It’s snowing! I cried to the girls sat nearby, having taken our ‘first one to see the snow’ competition seriously.
As we wound up the hairpin turns towards our resort, the views out the window blew my mind. Pine trees, mountains, idyllic snow covered cabins, ski slopes, lots and lots of snow. Beautiful. A white wonderland.
At this, my first ever glimpse of the mountains, I was starting to see why people would want to come here instead of lay on a beach.
In that moment I also put the previous day’s ominous encounter with a discarded Metro to the back of my mind….
Yeah. Smooth, Metro.
The next seven days passed in a surreal blur of eating and exhaustion. And snow.
I was living with 13 other people in a giant log cabin by the slopes.
This is the view from our sumptuous wooden chalet.
And the view from our balcony
We were trained up in all things chalet host, which basically meant stuffing our faces as we took it in turns to cook three course meals, cakes, and sumptuous breakfasts for each other. And occasionally wandering around in the snow. Pinch me.
Soooo surreal. Especially since, as expected, the people I trained with soon seemed like family due to the intense nature of our days, and yet a mere week ago they had been strangers.
We were up at 6:30 for a 7:00 am start. Aside from all the meals and cookery lessons, there was a great deal of theory too, and so generally the days training wasn’t over until 9:30 every night.
That’s a long ass day, but we still found time to play in the snow!
And take obligatory jumping photos. Of course.
And there were plenty of sunny tea breaks on the balc.
And we definitely still managed to party.
That first pint of the season felt epic.
And the socialising was ultimately what really bonded us all.
Besides, where else can you go out in snugly snow boots and not look like a twat? Amazeballs.
So when I finally got over my disbelief that I was actually doing this whole thing… what did we learn during staff training?
We learnt the menu….
We learnt how to run our kitchens…
We learnt how to cook it all…
How it should all taste…
How to present it all and earn yourself those fat tips…
And one afternoon we learnt how to make simple yet amazeball canapés for our guests!
Something I have to do everyday as part of the five course meals i’ll be making and serving…
Which was super fun and a highlight for all!
Especially when Pete made a swan out of an apple.
As you bloody do!
Unfortunately, there was a slight accident with the swan’s head.
If fell off. I caught the exact moment of this tragedy on camera!
But we soon solved the problem with some cream cheese.
Note the egg. Genius.
We learnt how to cook a huge Christmas dinner for 20 people (but I’m still terrified).
We learnt how to shovel snow.
We learnt how to fit snow chains.
We learnt how to make awesome napkin fans. Oooohhh.
We learnt some top tips for getting, well, some top tips.
We learnt to poach an egg at altitude. Impressive.
Incidentally, did you know that in Val Thorens (2300m) it takes 27 minutes to SOFT boil an egg?!! That is mental oriental.
The week flew and before we knew it, we were waving off half our crew to La Planc.
The rest of us would be heading to Belleville valley the following day, to Val Thorens and Les Menuires.
And so, training was complete.
La Tania, it’s been emotional.
Was I ready to run a chalet and cook five course meals everyday? Hmmm…
Actually, despite everything I learnt, perhaps the most practial lesson for me was that cooking and cleaning all day on two on two hours sleep and a fatal hangover is HORRIFIC.
You try cleaning a toilet when you want to vom…. Or cooking and eating a full Christmas dinner when you literally cannot move.
Suddenly that seasonaire discount at the bar does not seem so ideal.
Which leads me nicely an important side point: Priorities.
Apparently, there are four things that dominate a seasonaire’s life.
Sleep. And yes I look EXACTLY that incredible when I sleep.
It is said that you cannot do all four well. You must pick three and make them your priority, or it all goes a bit wrong.
You have to choose work, because if you do a bad job at that then you’ll be going home, or at the very least you’ll get rubbish tips and be very poor, as well as fall out with your manager and the rest of your team.
You have to choose ski, because that’s you’re here, in this ridiculously poorly paid job, sharing a bunk bed with someone who hopefully doesn’t pull too often, working long hours to do everything bar wipe the ass of your guests.
Then what’s left… party or sleep? If I don’t sleep, then I can’t do my job well, nor is it likely I’ll be hitting the slopes every afternoon, because I’ll be recovering in my glorious bunk bed.
And then I’ll get even fatter, and be rubbish at skiing, and probably have horrible spots. Which is just rubbish all round.
But if I don’t party, then really, that’s a bit dull. I want to meet people and enjoy myself, it can’t be all work.
And, I know what I’m like…
But I’m promising you, training week is the last time I attempt Christmas dinner in that state!