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.
Foundation Course (Intensive)
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 are usually joined by a few local guests to increase the size of the dinner table (to around 10) to give a real life situation for the students that are cooking the evenings meal. Students will have around 4 nights finishing and plating the meal for guests, 4 nights sitting as diners and there are 4 evenings when there are no extra guests and we all eat together.
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 (Arrival dinner in Les Chardons, last evening meal in a local restaurant. Saturday mid-course is a complete day off and students are free to make there own plans )
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
4.00pm: 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 half of the students will be responsible for finishing off and plating the meal (under guidance from the tutor), the following evening sitting to eat as a dinner guest
7.30pm: Canapés are served
8.00pm: Dinner is served
Cookery Retreat (A little less INTENSIVE!)
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, Arrival day meal in a local restaurant)
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 - 1pm: Practical session, cooking towards lunch. Most days you will cook your own lunch.
1pm: Lunch and time to get out and get some fresh air in Val d’Isère
4pm: 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