The Mountain Cookery School- A Recipe for Success

Paul, European Operations Manager








Back in 1999, my first winter season, I was amazed that somebody wanted to pay me for being in the mountains.
Every second of that season was a privilege and I soon realised that the quality of life, which being in the mountains brought, was far higher than my friends were experiencing in the rat race in Blighty. It became addictive and rewarding to the point where, having now lived in the Alps for 17 years and being Operations Manager for a Chalet Tour Operator (Skiworld) for 10 years, I’ve been lucky enough to meet and help develop around 300 new young (and sometimes not so young!) people each year. I have to say, that that has been incredibly satisfying each and every step of the way.

Skiworlds’ product has developed over those years to become what it is today, the largest independent ski tour operator in the UK, and it’s clear that our guests’ expectations have grown in that time too. Most notably since the financial crash of 2008, when our guests demanded a much higher level of service for their money, and we delivered.
In recent years we have however noticed a change in the skills present in our potential, and new, staff members. They have noticeably less life skills than they had been back in the 90’s. I remember being sat down in 1991 next to my father, and he told me that I now needed to find my own way in life. I would have to do my share of everything – cooking, cleaning, maintenance etc. And he told me that if I wanted spending money for clothes, socialising, or anything else, then I would have to go out into the big bad world and earn it.

Regardless of how you slice it, ‘doing a season’ gives people a broader outlook on life and a skillset which will take them wherever they want to go. It teaches people those core, old fashioned, pre-games-console values that what you put in directly correlates to what you get out of something. Running a chalet gives you skills which can be transferred, not just into pretty much any other career I can think of, but in the appreciation of life, relationships, and the variety of true possibilities they have in life. In truth it changes people, and invariably for the better.


As mentioned previously, I’ve been lucky enough to watch the development of hundreds and thousands of young people, and if I’m honest with myself, that continues to be a driving force behind my motivation to still be doing what I do. To give people the same opportunity as I had, and to help them get the most out of their time with us.

10436668_10152498567523457_6924795660307903036_nSo, this brings me neatly to our new Chalet Cookery course programme. Thought up last year, it has been designed to bring people up to a level of cooking and chalet management that, combined with our chalet training course in November, will fully prepare the students for their opportunity in the Alps, as well as maximising our guests enjoyment of their holiday. These skills and experiences, and the confidence they instil, can of course be taken on through life and be transferred into any career. As mentioned, last year was our first in running the Cookery school and it was a huge success, with 98% of our students who wanted to get a ski season job achieving their goal.

Upon reflection, it quickly became clear that doing a ski season wasn’t the only driver to attending our cookery school, and in actual fact there was another group of people it appealed to and benefited. These are people who are moving out of home for the first time, going to university, buying their first house, or getting their first career job away from home. People wanting to learn life skills so they could cook, better run their home and generally learn skills you don’t learn at schools and colleges in the UK. We then conducted some market research and realised that there wasn’t a course that even came close to offering this. There were a couple of basic cookery courses in a UK backwater, but nothing which targeted this group of people and that skill-set. So furthered our investigation…


We decided to interview a sizeable number of our staff to find out, in hindsight, what they wished they had known when they first left home, whether that was when going to university or indeed on their first season. The results were staggering! They ranged from how to use washing machines and dishwashers, to how to change your hoover bag, how to make a shopping list, how to store or freeze things, how do I eat even remotely healthily on such a tight budget… The list went on.

So, with all our research thoroughly conducted, and a surprised but confident mind-set, we set about pulling all of these topics into one very flexible course, which we can tailor to suit every individual in a fantastic and fun learning environment in the mountains. Our chalets in Tignes offer breath-taking views, and during the summer months we can split the learning up with a plethora of summer alpine activities and sports such as sailing, hiking, mountain biking, tennis, table tennis, trampolining, via ferrata, rafting, hydro-speeding, para-ponting, golf (crazy or otherwise!)…. Indeed, any one of about 100 activities on offer. Or, you could of course just soak up the sun by the pool or on the beach!

Whether you’re looking to work in the mountains for a ski season, or you’re leaving home and want to gain a few valuable life-hacks, The Mountain Cookery School will give you all the ingredients you need for success, in and out of the kitchen…


Book by calling us on 020 8600 1658

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