CHALET TEAM CLOSE-UP: Leandri & Cate, Chalet Killy
Chalet Killy, Sleeps 8, Val d’Isere
There’s more to season work than poaching a few eggs and poncing around resort in a fluffy gilet (although that happens too). Taking care of a mountain residence to Fish & Pips’ exacting standards is an alpine workout in itself, requiring not only a bucket-load of snow-clearing, stair-climbing, log-shifting stamina but an exceptional eye for detail, a knowledge and passion for food and unrelenting chirpiness to ensure our guests are fed, watered and looked after until home time.
It takes a special type of person to do the job well, and taking recruitment super seriously at Fish & Pips, we’re proud to have put together a pretty fabulous team this season in Meribel & Val d’Isere and we think it’s about time we got to know them a little better.
So, from now until the end of the season in our Chalet Team Close-Up series, we’ll be interviewing a handful of our Fish & Pippers, to get a little insight into life off and on the piste.
First up, it’s Leandri and Cate from Chalet Killy.
You’ve got to be a pretty interesting character to carry off a name like Leandri, and this 21-year-old chef from Purley doesn’t disappoint.
Born to South African parents and fluent in Afrikaans, Leandri’s flair for cooking is undeniably in her blood – with her Mum, Dad and Grandma having been the greatest inspiration in her drive to become to chef.
“My Ouma is my earliest influence, we always use to bake Afrikaans treats in South Africa when I was little – so I learnt a lot from her. At home we’re Braai (BBQ) crazy, whatever the weather, sun or snow. Mummzy is the queen of the kitchen, she’s got unbelievable flare, and she always hosts the most amazing dinner parties. She’s my inspiration.”
Now on to her second season with Fish & Pips, Leandri’s still loving the free rein she’s given in the kitchen to experiment with new dishes and flavours; often inspired by middle-eastern and Mediterranean cuisine.
“After a long day skiing, I know guests want some filling grub. I’m always more interested in flavour over frill. I will never shy away from bold flavours.”
When she’s not in the kitchen, Leandri can often be found dancing on the tables at Val d’Isere apres spots Cocorico or La Folie Douce. “I’ve never been a natural skier, but I’ve always been game for apres.”
And her plans for the future?
“My end goal is to own a vineyard in New Zealand or Australia. My Mum will run the yoga retreat and I’ll have a pop up kitchen in keep with the yogi, wine theme. I’m planning to take my parents out there with me when they retire.”
And to finish..
Desert island dish? My Dad’s beer chicken, sweet potato wedges, tomato and onion salad and spanakopita.
If you could ski to one album? Fat Freddy’s Drop – Based on a True Story
If you could only drink one après drink forever more? Whisky soda
Favourite ingredient? Feta
Ski resort or beach resort? A beach resort – Kampot in Cambodia (not really a beach resort, but riverside).
Chef you’d most like to work for in the world? Someone Afrikaans in Cape Town.
Best dining experience of your life? After a night out, going for a falafel wrap at a kebab shop.
Four Fantasy chalet guests? Jimi Hendrix, The Dalai Lama, Amy Winehouse and Frank Ocean
Plans for after F&P? Get a real job.
Born on the Scottish borders to what she describes as ‘a very Scottish family’, Cate has left the chilly climates of her home town Carlisle for the even chillier French Alps, a home from home for the 24-year-old aspiring actress who feels happiest when she’s surrounded by mountains. In fact, she loves mountains so much, she even climbed one of the world’s biggest ones, Mount Kilimanjaro, when she was 19.
Having skied since she was three, where she mainly learnt on a dry ski slope, Cate’s reason for embarking on a season is an unconventional one, and it’s all thanks to her 60-year-old Dad Gerard.
“So my Dad suddenly decided that he wanted to do a ski season. He’s been a teacher at the same school for 35 years and though it was about time he did his gap year. He was the one who inspired me to do it. He actually works for a chalet company about 30km down the road in Plan Peisey close to Les Arcs, working as an odd-jobs person for a chalet company. I’m due to meet up with him for a ski soon.”
As a first time seasonnaire, Cate’s enjoying exploring all the amenities of Val d’Isere.
‘I’m still getting used to resort life, I wasn’t prepared for the amount of snow! One of my favourite things to do is go and explore all the cosy cafes and bars. It’s been so snowy, and we haven’t been able to ski every day so it’s been nice to do that. I’ve always been to resorts that are more family orientated, and I’ve never seen as much après before which is what’s brilliant about Val – Cocorico is definitely a firm favourite.’
Cate has been sampling après life as an important part of ‘in-resort research’, plus attempting to up her score on the infamous ‘Moose Board’ – a list of 20 eclectic challenges listed on the wall at the staff accommodation. Need we say more…
And there’s that feeling of being removed from reality…
“It’s such a bubble here, and in some ways, it’s actually nice to be cut off from the rest of the world slightly; paying bills, watching the news. It’s certainly nice to be away from all that.’
Following the season, Cate – who has a BA in acting from the Royal Conservatoire in Scotland, is off to produce a short film on the Isle of Skye.
So from one tiny, cut-off community to another!
And to finish:
Desert island dish: My Mum’s curry. She produces just the most amazing curry. She makes home-made poppadoms and naan bread.
If you could ski to one album? Annie Lennox Greatest Hits or anything really – it depends how steep the run is!
Apres drink: Whisky and Ginger Beer
Favourite cleaning product: Pamplemousse. You can use it on any surface, it smells like grapefruit and it cleans stuff really well. Is there any such thing as a favourite cleaning product?!
Ski resort or beach resort: Ski resort. I love the Three Valleys, especially La Tania because I have the most memories there.
Television series you’d most like to appear in: Happy Valley.
Best dining experience of your life: There used to be a little tiny bistro in my town, Brampton, called Huntingtons which did the most amazing pasta. It was so mismatched, we used to go there every Wednesday after school. It was unbelievably cheap and my parents would always get a bottle of house red and we’d all sit and eat together.
Fantasy chalet guests: Julie Walters, Andy Murray, Jennifer Saunders, Jodie Comer
Where you see yourself in 10 years time: Performing in something like Doctor Foster, I love BBC and ITV dramas so hopefully doing that!