Purple Ski has had several press articles written about it recently. Some extracts are below:
The Times Chalet Chef 2010
We were delighted that, following the cook-off competition, at which Dan Hughes, our Lapin Blanc chef of 2007-8, 2008-9 and 2009-10 represented us, Purple Ski was voted the winner of the Times Chalet Chef 2010 Competition – “up-market” category (there was a separate mass-market category)
The Times 18th November 2009
The winners of the Times Chalet Chef 2010 are Purple Ski and Fish and Pips for the mass market. Six chefs took part in cook-off on Monday. Their task was to prepare classic chalet fare within a fixed budget of £20 (mass market) or £30 (upmarket).
The judges were looking for flavoursome, well presented, seasonal and local sources après food.
Purple Ski’s Dan Hughes prepared a scallop tartare with wasabi and radish salad, roast duck breast with butternut squash, roasted shallots, kale ravioli and chive and garlic gastrique (a classic French reduction sauce) and a carrot cake with orange and pistachio.
See articles and a video on The Times Web Site.
The Times Chalet Chef Competition
Purple Ski has been short listed with two other companies for the The Times Chalet Chef Competition. A cook off between the three “up market” companies, as The Times describes them, will take place at Food at 52 on 16th November. For more information on the competion please see the article on The Times web site.
The Times Video Article
Check out the wonderful video review of Chalet Lapin Blanc and Méribel by Sean Newsom and Mark Frary of the Times on The Times of London web site.
Sean Newsom says:
One of the best chalet companies in Méribel is called Purple Ski. They have been here for a long time and what really distinguishes them from lots of the run of the mill chalet companies is the fact that they take a lot of trouble to recruit proper chefs with real experience. And this now goes very well with the quality of the chalets they are offering which includes Chalet Lapin Blanc.
The article continues about Chalet Lapin Blanc:
“Where to stay: Chalet Lapin Blanc
This stylish, spacious chalet sleeps 14 and has stunning mountain views. There’s a cinema, sauna, outdoor hot tub with views of the piste, heated boot warmers in the ski room, flat-screen televisions in every room and the Purple Ski’s signature top-class catering. The chalet costs from £610 – £2,436 per person per week including half board plus afternoon tea, wine with dinner, beer, newspapers, baby sitting on one night and chauffeured minibus around Méribel.”
The expert guide to Méribel
Lapin Blanc, Méribel
“This stylish, spacious chalet sleeps 14 and has stunning mountain views. There’s a cinema, sauna, outdoor hot tub with views of the piste, heated boot warmers in the ski room, flat-screen televisions in every room and the Purple Ski’s signature top-class catering. The chalet costs from £610 – £2,436 per person per week including half board plus afternoon tea, wine with dinner, beer, newspapers, baby sitting on one night and chauffeured minibus around Méribel.”
Full article can be found on The Times web site.
Top 5 places to stay
1. Purple Ski chalets, Méribel Centre
“Purple Ski is a British-run operator specialising in high-end catered chalets in Méribel. Each of their four chalets is tastefully decorated and comes with a hot tub and/or sauna, expert chef and minibus service. Chalet Lapin Blanc and Chalet Roussillon are located in Méribel Centre. Chalet Iamato is in Méribel Village.”
Full article can be found on The Daily Telegraph web site.
“If you’re considering a holiday with a small, independent tour operator that specialises in one or two resorts, it’s worth asking them for recommendations. After all, the owners often live in the resorts during the winter and get a lot of feedback from their guests about who the best instructors and guides are. Méribel specialist Purple Ski (01885 488799, www.purpleski.com) is a good example – its website is loaded with detail about the ski-school scene there.” Read the whole article on The Times of London web site.
Sloping off – Bored with Britain, bored with restaurants, but love cooking? Ever considered a life on the piste? (excerpts)
You’ve put in a few years’ hard graft as a chef in a clutch of well-respected UK restaurants. If you’re looking for a change of scenery as well as the next big career move, what are your options? Well, there are always foreign restaurants crying out for talent in the kitchen. But what about becoming a chalet chef?
Purple Ski luxury chalet operator, which runs seven operations in popular ski-resort Méribel, is aiming to bunk the myth that off-piest catering consists of chalet boys and girls whipping up stodgy play-safe lasagnes to refuel worn-out tourists, in between cleaning the loos and ensuring they get plebty of time on the slopes.
Michael Broom-Smith, owner of Purple Ski, says although food wasn’t top priority when he set up the company in 1991, the first chef he hired had worked for Michel Roux “and there was no looking back”.
As he happily tucks into duck with savoy cabbage and pancetta and sauteed whole new potatoes, Broom Smith adds, “We’re trying to appeal to the more adventurous traveller and move away from the package holiday mentality. I wouldn’t want to offer them a meal I wouldn’t eat myself.”
His wife Karen is operations director and is in charge of recruitment. The right qualifications are vital and chefs are often a bit older than you’d imagine, typically in their late ’20s or early ’30s.
“Usually we look for some experience in fine dining,” she says. “That can be tough with applicants often coming from Australia and New Zealand, in which case I look up the restaurants they’ve worked at, get references and see if they can talk through recipes competently.” Chefs from further afield must hold a British passport. Personality is also important in a job where some chefs live on site. It’s also important to be sociable, get on with other staff and make guests feel at home. “I have to like all potential staff.” Karen admits.
Chefs thinking of applying should bear in mind that the season runs from mid-November to mid-April, so if you’re thinking of doing it on an ongoing basis it might be worth considering the other six months of each year. The kitchens are of a domestic rather than restaurant standard and chefs, like the other staff, live in shared rooms of up to three people. But, says Karen, in return they get “a great opportunity to see what it’s like running their own restaurant”.
The Lady magazine – November 2004 – Andrew Kaye (complete article)
The moment I walk through the door of the chalet I am handed a glass of champagne – and that fairly sets the tone for the rest of my week at the luxurious Chalet Rousillon in Méribel.
I have stayed at a few catered chalets in my time and although the general bonhomie between the mixed bag of guests is invariably good (unity through shared adversity, perhaps?), such holidays have generally been a letdown for me due to mediocre facilities and uninspired food – I have experienced ‘positively plain’ in Le Plagne and ‘basic’ in Banff. The latter also involved numerous tequila slammer sessions and firm refusals on my part to join my fellow guests running naked in the snow – not my cup of tea at all.
This year, however, ready for some pampering, I have chosen a chalet operator dedicated to ensuring my entire week – on slopes or in chalet – is hassle-free and thoroughly enjoyable.
The Rousillon is one of seven chalets operated by catered chalet specialists Purple Ski in Méribel and nearby Mottaret, at the centre of France’s largest ski area. The directors, Michael and Karen Broom Smith, are dedicated to providing a sophisticated experience for the more discerning skier and bon viveur.
After my welcoming glass – or three- of champagne, I settle into my pleasant room with en-suite bathroom and a large balcony giving views across the valley.
Seen from the outside, my chalet appears to be constructed of granite and ancient timbers. Inside, however, the facilities are those of a modern hotel, but with lovely touches that gave the feel of a large mountain hut; a massive log fire, a pile of outdoor shoes by the front door, a strange assortment of old ski and mountain paraphernalia scattered about and quaint nooks containing arrangements of dried flowers and maize husks.
The friendly chalet staff soon remind me that this is definitely a chalet holiday with a difference. The open-all-hours ‘help yourself’ bar, which contains a selection of wines, beers and soft drinks, is pointed out, as is the ski room with its heated boot-warmers.
Within a couple of hours, a member of the Purple Ski team had taken my photograph for my lift pass, which appear first thing the next day. A representative from ski and boot hire company measures my boot size and asks some pertinent questions about my skiing abilities. The skis and boots will be ready for me in the ski room the next morning, and will be collected at the end of my last day.
Now let me tell you about the food – ah, the food!
Before I start waxing lyrical, maybe I should mention that cooking at altitude is not easy. Did you know that water boils at 73 degrees Centigrade in Méribel, and you can safely dip your hand into it as it furiously bubbles? Strange, but true. This makes boiling eggs, vegetables and cooking in general, something of a black art and one not likely to be mastered by a chalet girl or boy with only a last-minute crash course in cookery under their belt.
Purple Ski believes that eating should be an experience. To this end it employs only the best. Its chef at the Chalet Iamato, for example, which is just down the road, was, until recently in charge of six other chefs at the Savoy Hotel in London. Our equally accomplished man at the Rousillon is Darren Martin, a fanatical snow boarder and erstwhile head chef at an AA two-rosette restaurant in Bournemouth.
We all sit at one long table, but there are no menu cards as each mouth-wtering courses is announced just before it was served. We enjoy, for example, buttered braised quail, stuffed with Tuscan-style paté with red onion marmalade and melba toast; then seared Scottish salmon on potato rosti with sweet potato mash and salsa rossa accompanied by broccoli with toasted almonds and nut brown butter; followed by chocolate crème brulée with raspberry and honey sorbet. Coffee is served in the lounge, together with a different local cheese every night, plus a glass or two of a delicious digestif, Pineau des Charentes.
Next morning we are greeted by a table laden with fresh fruit segments, cereals, hot croissants, fruit juices, muesli, fresh baguettes, cheese, ham and porridge served with drizzled honey, diced apples and a sprig of mint sprinkled with icing sugar. Egg dishes, including Eggs Benedict, can be cooked to order.
Afternoon tea awaits our return from the slopes and comprises a choice of teas (or in my case a large glass of red) to accompany a slice of yummy home-baked cake.
Getting down and back to the Chaudanne area, where all the Méribel lifts are found, is simple because Purple Ski mini buses run at specified times. For transport at other times, we just call the duty driver’s mobile phone.
It is hard to beat the Three Valleys as a ski area. Opt for the full lift pass and the comprehensive lift system enables you to ski not only in the Méribel valley, but also the valleys where Val Thorens and Courchevel are found.
One word of warning though: when I take a wrong turn on the ridge between the Méribel and Courchevel valleys about 25 minutes before the 4.15pm lift-closure, I find myself in the wrong valley at the top of what must be the longest mogul in the world. I loathe moguls and nearly die from exhaustion trying to ski as fast as I can down to a lift that will take me back up to the ridge and the right valley.
Even after 25 years on the piste, I still need the occasional lesson and can heartily recommend the English-run and English-speaking New Generation Ski School. The advice from my instructor Tom Saxlund was easy to understand and our discussions on technique and mental attitude (mine) would not be possible with a French instructor.
My week in Méribel dispells a wavering confidence in catered chalet holidays. Purple Ski’s excellent staff and service, exquisite food and attention to detail bring the genre to new heights. It is not cheap and does not include arrangements for getting to the resort (although they will arrange transfers at a price), but you certainly get what you pay for – and more.
Mixing with kindred spirits, people with independent and gregarious natures and all with a common love of skiing, is what this kind of holiday is all about. You begin as strangers and end up as friends – albeit each four pounds heavier.
“It’s chalet champers” (excerpts from article)
Purple Ski is the kind of chalet operator you dream about: a well-run single resort specialist charging three-star prices and offering five-star cuisine.
Iamato is its best property: bedrooms are small, but they have ensuite bathrooms, and the valley views are stunning. The wine list is a delight, and this year Jimmy Powell, erst-while saucier at the Savoy – and master of the chocolate tart – is doing the cooking.
SKIERS GET FUSSY – Chalet Chef Shortage (excerpts)
Ski chalet owners are complaining that there are not enough qualified chefs to go around this winter. A recent boom in eating out in Britain, and subsequent demand for chefs, means there are fewer available to work in resort during the ski season.
Owners are struggling to fill positions aren paying up to a fifth more this year to attract qualified chefs. Many salaries now top £1,000 a month, with transport to-and-from resorts, meals accommodation, winter sports insurance, ski passes and equipment thrown in.
“Many chefs in London are earning “£25,000-£30,000 and they don’t want to take a pay cut,” said Efrem Leigh, wgo runs www.findaskijob.com.
“There is also still a stigma about working in chalets that dates back to the ‘On the Piste’ style TV programmes about working in a chalet. It’s moved on since then and become much more of a career – not just girls from West London having a laugh for a season.”
“Simple catering qualifications are not enough any more,” said Karen Broom Smith, co-owner of Purple Ski, and upmarket operator that offers chalets in Méribel and Mottaret in France. “We are looking for people with experience in good restaurants.”
Méribel BOUND – Cook who was tempted
Jimmy Powell, 24, a chef from Chester, trained at the Michelin-starred Chester Grosvenor Hotel, before moving on to the Berkeley Hotel in Knightsbridge and the Savoy, where he was in charge of six chefs.
But his love of snowboarding has got the better of him, and this winter he is heading to Méribel, where he is running a five-star chalet for Purple Ski.
“The wages are not as good as back home, but it’s a good overall package. You get lift passes, equipment and accommodation,” said Powell, who has previously skied at Lake Tahoe in the United States and Whistler in Canada.
He has prepared his menu and is looking forward to seving pan-fried scallops with caviar and shrimp, follwed by fillet of beef with sun-dried tomatoes, spinach and basil, and warm plum tart with cherry sauce and Armagnac ice-cream.
“I don’t mind taking the time away from restaurants – I get to snowboard, save some cash and be in charge of everything myself,” he said.