We have finally arrived at our destination, our new home and our place of work for the next five months, we speak of course of the beautiful alpine village of Meribel.
Now at first we weren’t completely sure where we were, as we flew from Heathrow to Geneva then we were greeted by a lovely group of our fellow workers and our new boss, all of which are as English as you get. Now, if your picturing chimney sweeps and small street kids from the set of Oliver twist then think again, English they be but cockney slags they are not. Then it was into several work vehicles and on to a 2 plus hour drive to France (so they tell us), but up to this point I still hadn’t heard or seen any Frenchman. Was this an elaborate rouse, were we now smack bang in the middle of the international world of sex slavery? Well with fingers crossed and baited breath we sat there hoping to soon meet our slavers or maybe they prefer captors, not really sure I’m down with the lingo at all, but regardless we were soon to arrive somewhere and we had driven up a hill or two, so either of the previous outcomes are at this point possible.
As it so happens Karen our new boss wasn’t head of a sex ring, in fact she and her Husband Michael run a very top end chalet business, which contrary to popular opinion is nothing like the very bottom end sex slavery world, although they do both service people… Fact!
So we arrived in the very picturesque town of Meribel, the lack of white stuff was the first thing that caught me by surprise as we were here to work for the ski season, not the slide down destroying all your gear on mud and rock season, but we were here early and as Kevin Costner once said “build it and they will come” now either he was talking about brothels or he was a very wise man, most likely the latter and for this particular occasion I’m hoping for the best, and am confident that the precipitation that is inevitable will sooner rather than later come in the form of snow.
The second surprise of the season was the largest fuck off bag of Yorkshire tea I’d ever seen, not quite the French experience we’d expected but a lovely surprise.
The third surprise of the evening was being driven up the mountain in the back of utes. This was a brilliant way to get to know your fellow workmates, but having a large Manchester lad called Grant firmly wedged in-between my legs was still a shock to the system. Now I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy it but it was a shock. We arrived at the Refuge as it was aptly called, then the crazy cardigan wearing drivers of the manically driven utes changed out of their cardies and into their pinnies and in that second become our hosts. It was magical and off putting all at the same time. Within seconds bottles with no labels were being dished out willy nilly, the fondue pots on the tables were lit giving us a small clue to what was about to come… I knew we were either having cheese fondue or that this crazy French folk had skimped on the heating bill.
The fondue arrived in all cheesy glory. A cheese fondue is a thing of beauty; it’s like having a shit ton of cheese and small grill at you table, it allows food not normally associated with melted cheese to become acquainted, it is basically a get together for food form all over the place to meet this nice guy called melted cheese… and if for some reason they don’t get on, then Mr Melty Melty McCheese just drowns them in love and love always wins in the end.
This particular fondue was no exception, although the creators had not added the small amount of corn flour needed to bind the wine and cheese together leaving us fishing for pockets of molten protein, but that just added to the game. Just to be clear the game was gather as much cheese on the wooden spoon as you think possible then lift it from the cheesy depths and if you rise form the pot with nothing then ye shall be mocked by all (Liam was terrible at this game), now this was my kind of game. Props for the game were potatoes, salumi of various types and bread, always bread in this country, nothing is complete with a French stick or just a stick as they call it here.
With dinner complete and a very successful first night of bonding complete we walked back down the mountain, this was by far less bumpy and felt quite a lot safer then our journey up.
Over the next few weeks we set about training, they have 5 chalets here in town and each has its own Chef and chalet manager, as well as drivers, chalet assistants, masseurs and nannies. So they really do a stand up job of making sure everyone knows what is expected of them and what everyone else is meant to be doing. They manage to do all of this whilst allowing everyone to drink, eat and be incredibly social all at the same time, this is impressive as most people coming out here to work seem to think that there genitals will explode if they are not in contact with someone else asap. So the next game called ‘sleep with fucking everyone’ begins and I can’t see the end of this game in sight.
But for me this training meant I got to work along side some amazing chefs and share knowledge as well as actually getting to try their food, and believe me these boys can cook. So it was full testosterone mode engaged and cocks were out, massive fuck off cave man stick were being swung around, but fuck me it was a great laugh. This hit its crest at a dinner which myself and three other chefs cooked for. We were drunk as sailors by the first course and to be quite honest I have no idea how mains and dessert even got plated, all I do know is I served main course naked and Grant tried to snort a serve of pudding. But we made it through and still have jobs for the season… hooray!
As for everyone else we work with, they are all made up of consummate professionals and are an absolute pleasure to work with and in turn try their hardest to sleep with each other, so the game continues.
I really do feel that we are going to have a great season of creating some amazing food, memories and friends.