Our last Team Close-Up for this season – with chef and host Johnny and Lou!
Johnny Loveday – Chef, Chalet Du Guide
Cheffing runs in the family for 23-year old Geordie lad Johnny. His ambition to work in kitchens originally came from his uncle, whom he claims gained a lot of respect in the Loveday family for his ability to cook and dedication to his career.
Johnny enrolled in catering college at the age of 16, and by 17 was already working in a professional kitchen, at an Italian bistro on the Newcastle Quayside.
“After a couple of years I decided I wanted a new challenge – I hadn’t been abroad much, so looked online at jobs overseas and all I could find were positions in the Alps. I didn’t really know what to expect but I thought ‘What’s the worst that can happen? It’s only five months.’
Johnny describes the epic ‘two-day round trip’ he took to attend his first chalet chef interview in Surrey, which was thankfully successful, and saw him placed as a chef in a hotel in Saas Fee, Switzerland.
Although he almost never made it there.
“I missed my train to the airport, so had to get a later train then I missed my bus out to the Alps and I was ringing my Mum from Reading train station, so annoyed with the whole thing I was honestly considering throwing it all in. But she persuaded me not to and eventually they got me on the next coach to a different resort. Ultimately it took me three days to get there.”
“I’m so pleased I did. I had never skied before so didn’t know what to expect but I loved it, and caught the ski bug entirely.”
Following Saas Fee, where Johnny met girlfriend Louise (also his host in Chalet Du Guide), Johnny worked consecutive seasons for various companies in resorts across the Alps, whilst the summer saw him work in villas in the Med.
In the summer of 2017, whilst cheffing at swanky summer resort The Peligoni Club on the Greek island of Zakynthos, Johnny came across Philippa (The Pips) whilst she was on holiday who suggested he apply for job. The rest was history, and Johnny – along with Louise – found himself embarking on a season with Fish & Pips.
As a first time Fish & Pipper and Mèribellion, Johnny’s loving the community vibes of Mèribel-Village.
“It’s a separate village in itself but you have the bright lights of Mèribel not so far away, so everything’s there if you want it. I love that everyone in the village knows each other and gets along. Plus down here you never have to queue for the lift.”
“The snow has been amazing this year, it’s the snow that everyone has been praying for, for the past five or six years.”
His highlights of the season include the first ever season gig of legendary Three Valleys band Bring Your Sisters, attended almost exclusively by seasonnaires, and Toss The Boss Sundays at The Lodge Du Village, in which punters can win their round of drinks for free if they roll higher than the barman.
Following the season, Johnny and Louise are excited to be heading back to Peligoni, who work closely with Fish & Pips in a spot of cross seasonal recruitment!
“Beyond the summer, I don’t have a plan. I don’t like to think too far into the future. Louise and I will carry on doing seasonal work until it’s no longer as fun as it is, that’s when we’ll stop.”
And to finish..
Desert island dish? Probably my mum’s Sunday roast. Because no one cooks a roast a well as your mum. It’s all the memories of your family sat round the table that makes it so great.
If you could ski to one album? Probably Ed Sheeran’s first album, Plus. It’s chilled to ski to, perhaps on a gentle blue or red run.
If you could only drink one après drink forever more? At après I’m a beer man.
Favourite ingredient? Garlic. I learnt to cook in an Italian restaurant and everything is smothered in garlic, you have to learn how much to put on each dish.
Ski resort or beach resort? Ski every time. I’m northern and pale we don’t tan too well. I find it hard to lie on a beach and relax.
Chef you’d most like to work for in the world? Heston Blumenthal.
Best dining experience of your life? There’s a place right by Peligoni where you’re sat on the beach and they serve the most amazing braised lamb with Orzo pasta. In the summer we went there with Lousie’s family watching the sunset and drinking wine. It was amazing food and amazing company. You can hear the waves crashing against the rocks. It’s the perfect setting.
Four Fantasy chalet guests? It’d have to be Alan Shearer (I grew up as a Newcastle fan in the early 2000s), The Rock because I watched him a lot as a kid, Kevin Hart the comedian and Britney Spears just because she was my first ever crush.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? I’d have probably given up seasons by that point and I reckon I’ll go to London to try the Michelin star restaurant scene, so I’ll be working my way through that world instead.
Louise Armitage – Host, Chalet Du Guide
During her time at college Lou began exploring the possibilities of working abroad and quickly realised discover the demand for nannies the world over. At the age of 18, straight after graduating, she took her first overseas job in Corsica working for Mark Warner.
Instantly enamoured with the perks of seasonnaire life and eager to experience the work-hard, play-hard dream in the snow, Lou spent the winter season working as a nanny in St Anton, the following year in Morzine and then the uber-luxurious Swiss resort of Saas Fee, which is where she met Johnny. And the rest was history.
Several summer and winter seasons together across Europe, to include Gressoney in the Italian Alps and Val D’isere, it was in Greece where Lou found her summer home and in particular the sun-soaked seaside resort of the Peligoni Club in Zakynthos.
‘We had an amazing summer in Zakynthos traveling round the island and seeing new things. We are going back to Peligoni this summer myself working as a creche manager in the creche at the club.’
Despite having a boyfriend as a chef, Louise enjoys experiencing the phenomenal range of indulgent, cheesy mountain grub to include one Three Valley classic, the legendary mountain burger, only to be found in the Mèribel-Mottaret valley.
Recently turned 24, Lou celebrated her birthday enjoying a cheeky cocktail at Mèribel town centre bar La Poste and bopping to the groovy tunes of alpine band The Dominoes.
And will we see you again next year Lou?
“After this summer season me and Johnny are hoping to go travelling hopefully to India but we’ll see what happens! We always seem get sucked into doing another season.
It’s a very addictive way of life.”
We feel your pain Lou..
Desert island dish:
Mum’s steak and red peppers or Johnny’s aubergine melanzane
If I could ski to one album: Oasis and Definitely Maybe
If I could drink one après drink forever more: It would be a Mojito, a passionfruit mojito if they have one. It’s definitely the best drink ever invented.
Favourite cleaning product: Mirror cleaner as it makes everything shiny
Ski resort or beach resort: Depends on my mood, half way through the winter I want it to be summer and half way through summer I want it to be winter so I’m never really happy!
Best dining experience in your life: Me and Johnny went to Athens when we were working in Greece for the weekend and we found a little curry house on a side street and it was the best thing I’ve ever had.
Four fantasy chalet guests: Anna Wintor (I love American vogue), Lou Teasdale (she’s an amazing make-up artist and her Instagram is insane) Charlotte Tilbury, (for a similar reason as before) and Sarah Ashcroft (she’s a really good blogger and I love her Instagram and style.)
Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?: Working in London for a family doing childcare in a private household or doing photography (quite a lot of Johnny’s food pictures are ones I’ve taken).