If good food and winter sports happen to rate as your top two pleasures in life, a trip to the Fish & Pips Chalets in France should be high up on your Wish List this season. Recent winner of the Times newspaper ‘Chalet Chef of the Year’ Award – the F&P experience is about delicious dining in cozy chalets set a stone’s throw from the slopes.
Fish & Pips was founded by two food-fanatical and lifelong friends – Holly Fisher (Fish) and Philippa Eyles (Pips) – who, having had enough of slaving away for big chalet companies, decided to go solo and try chalet hosting for themselves. They soon found that focusing on fuss-free gourmet food was a surefire recipe to success. Now in its fifth season, their empire extends to eight chalets – five in Meribel, three in Val d’Isere – including their latest addition Chalet Killy (pictured). Each chalet comes with a carefully handpicked Chef, who’ll tirelessly seduce you with his fuss-free, gourmet food from morning till dusk.
Their formula is stunningly simple: by day, burn off the calories by ripping through the expansively glorious terrain of Espace Killy (25,000 skiable acres, to be precise). By night, enjoy some of the best cuisine you’ll ever have in your life with daily five course dinners, feeling smug in the knowledge that you can burn it all off the next day. Oh, and let’s not forget breakfast (pancakes or English?) or the yummy afternoon tea and cakes.
Part of the magic stems from Fish & Pips’ infectious enthusiasm, who make you feel like a friend as well as a guest. Both in their late 20s, they’re amazing hosts and will inspire you to go out and set up your own business too. They’ve put particular focus on attention to detail, with handmade soaps and bath bombs in your bathroom, slippers and a stash of chocolates by the front door! A few days before your arrival you’ll receive a phone call from Chef himself, enquiring about your specific foodie likes and dislikes. Without getting all Mariah Carey, now is the time to mention those intense likes or dislikes, and it certainly adds to the impending excitement of your ski trip…
As a fish-eating vegetarian amongst a group of six hardened carnivores, I feared I might be in for the short end of the ski pole. Not so. Chef gently catered to my whims whipping up starter delights such as smoked mackerel pate, heavenly salmon-teriyaki canapés, chili oysters, pea and cream pastry puffs, and the perfect tomato gazpacho.
Main courses were like going to heaven and back. Individual potato dauphinoise, roasted spiced celeriac and the most divine pumpkin risotto (served in a scooped out pumpkin) provided enough wow factor to have the carnivores all asking for a taste. And for desert? Sumptuous chocolate brownies with red berry compote, homemade Eccles cakes and a divine rice pudding set the scene of utter calorific delight, topped off with the most amazing cheeseboard.
But if you’re worried that six days of five course dinners is going to play havoc with your waistline, you either need to ride harder or have a quiet word with Chef who will whip up something a little less calorific for an evening or two. We recommend you ride harder and make the most of your week in gastro-heaven.
Fish & Pips are offering a week half board at their Santons Solaise chalet, Val d’Isere from 12th March reduced from £795 pp to £695 pp for Cooler readers with a complimentary Espace Killy pass for group leader (Promo code COOLERF&P)