Our Training Kitchen
At the start of summer the Les Chardons dining room becomes home to our Foundation Course and the Cookery Retreat.
Catering comfortably for up to 8 students at a time, it offers plenty of light, airy space to spread out and work at your own pace. Where other schools cram as many students as possible into a disused domestic kitchen, we have invested in plenty of ovens, induction hobs, quality knives and everything else essential for cooking from scratch.
Our commercial kitchen in the basement will take care of all the washing up to ensure you make the most of your time cooking. Cleaning up after yourself is a skill that is as important as the cooking itself, but something that you can learn when you aren't paying for our time.
Our store cupboard is stocked with a vast range of interesting ingredients of the highest quality. A generous portion of your fee goes towards making sure that you are learning to cook without cutting corners.
Your time in Val d'Isère can be as action packed or as relaxed as you choose. There is something for thrill seekers and sports nuts as well as plenty of options for those that want to relax and soak up the stunning summer scenery. In order to maximise your time we start early and finish a little later than most other schools, so we have 2 to 3 hours in the middle of the day to get out of the kitchen and make the most of the mountains when they are at their best.
The nuts and bolts of cookery - 12 days
- Our foundation course will take students through from basic knife skills to a level where they should be competent with cooking full dinner parties or joining a larger kitchen brigade
- It's a course that moves quite quickly, covers a very broad range of topics and has the flexibility to ensure the individual can take away the skills that are relevant to them. Each day builds on the last so joining for a day or two isn't really ideal as there will be a lot you will have missed. Backtracking too much also holds the course up for the other students
- We emphasise teaching people about food and how to cook, instead of teaching a set of recipes for a specific job (like a ski season)
- Our approach is to cover as much as possible in the time we have and leave the practice and repetition for the individual once they have finished the course. We offer strong follow-up support after the course allowing our students to take the experence as far as their interest allows
- For the evening meals, we may be joined by a few local guests to increase the size of the dinner table (to around 8) to give a real life situation for the students that are cooking the evenings meal.
- For students that have finished the course there is a solid support base via our own forums and contacts.
The course covers:
- Knife skills and general vegetable preparation
- Understanding quality ingredients and how to tell the difference
- Meat cuts and different approaches to cooking them including jointing / boning chicken
- Stocks and sauces including reductions, roux, and emulsion sauces (Mayonnaise and Hollandaise)
- Filleting round and flat fish
- Buying, cleaning and cooking shellfish including scallops, squid and crabs
- Chargrilling and barbecuing
- Boiling, steaming and poaching - fruit and eggs
- Frying - deep, shallow and stir frying
- Custards, ice creams, sorbets
- Rubbing-in method, short and puff pastries
- Bread making including rich yeast dough - brioche / doughnuts etc
- Fresh and dried pasta
- Buying and using oil and vinegar
- Dressings, chutney, salads
- Gelatine and Agar
- Cakes and sponges
- Meringue and meringue based recipes
- Breakfast / brunches and family food
- Different styles of dining including an outdoor meal over coals
- Our menus cover a lot of regional cooking including European / Mediterranean, Indian, Middle Eastern and Asian.
- Each lesson includes a retrospective discussion on the origin of the previous meal, the presentation, seasoning and flavour balance along with the cost
- Around 70% hands-on and 30% theory
2 weeks (12 days) - Sunday to Friday (Saturday mid-course is a day off)
- 8 - 8.30am: Breakfast
- 8.30am: 2 hour teaching session, including theory of cookery, discussions, demonstrations, and an analysis of last night’s evening meal
- 10.30am - 12.30pm: Practical session, cooking towards lunch
- 12.30pm: Lunch, then time to get out and get some fresh air in Val d’Isère
- 3.00pm: Return to the kitchen for a quick discussion of lunch and recap for the afternoon's practical session. Cook towards the evening’s dinner party
- 6.00pm: Wind things up for the day. Have a shower, relax and get ready for dinner
- 6.30pm: On alternate evenings you and 1 or 2 other students will be responsible for the dinner service (under guidance from the tutor), the following evening sitting to enjoy the evenings meal
- 7.30pm: Canapés are served
- 8.00pm: Dinner is served
Improve your skills and enjoy all Val d'Isère has to offer in summer - 6 days
The retreat course is designed for those who enjoy cooking and would like to spend some time in Val d'Isère during the summer whilst boosting their cooking skills. It is a shortened version of the foundation course that retains the key points we feel will improve students' existing skills.
- Analyse and improve your current cooking skills
- Boost your knowledge of the ingredients available
- Teach you some new techniques and add to your cooking repertoire
- Answer all of the questions that have built up during your previous cooking experience
- Teach you to work efficiently saving time, cost and mess
- Offer ongoing support long after the course has finished
The course covers:
- Meat, fish and shellfish preparation, special diets, vegetarian cookery, pastry and desserts, canapes etc
- Cooking from scratch, eliminating bad habits and learning about how to plan your cooking efficiently
- Taking a closer look at the ingredients we cook with, and how to use them properly
- A little more time will be given to theory as in our experience people that have more cooking under their belt have a great deal more cooking related questions they want answers for. Practical sessions need less time spent on the basics.
- Practical sessions will be focused around good working practices, clean presentation, maximising flavour and running stress free dinner parties that will impress
Sunday to Friday (6 days)
- 8 - 8.45am: Breakfast
- 8.45am: 2 hour teaching session, including theory of cookery, discussions demonstrations, and an analysis of last night’s evening meal.
- 10.45am - 12.00pm: Practical session, cooking towards lunch. Most days you will cook your own lunch.
- 12.00pm: Lunch and time to get out and get some fresh air in Val d’Isère
- 3.30pm: Return to the kitchen for a discussion of lunch and recap for the afternoons practical session. Collectively cook towards the evening’s dinner party
- 6.30pm: Wind things up for the day. Have a shower, relax and get ready for dinner. Some evenings are four course dinners and some are buffet style. You are welcome to either return to the kitchen to help with or witness the finishing off of the meal or simply join us as a dinner guest and leave the meal to the tutor to finish off.
- 7.30pm: Canapés are served
- 8.00pm: Dinner is served