What are our chefs up to now? Part 1

23rd July 2019

We are very lucky to have recruited and worked with some extremely talented individuals over our years of running chalets across Méribel and Val’d Isère.

Our chefs are chosen for their high level of skill, chef wizardry and delightful food pre starting with Fish&Pips, so we thought we would start by taking a look at where these skills have lead them after their time with us and find out whether working for Fish&Pips has helped them get to where they are now.

We start the series with two fabulous chefs who you may recognise. They both worked for us for two seasons and are now taking the cheffing world by storm, we couldn’t be prouder of them both.

 

Introducing chefs – Rebecca Byard, (2014-2016) and Rhys Bennett (2010-2012).

Rebecca Byard (Bex)

 

 

What year(s) you worked for F&P, how many seasons did you do in total with us?

I worked with Fish&Pips for two seasons, first as a Chef/Host in Chalet Arbe in 2014-15, then again as Chef in Chalet le Christophe in 2015-16.

 

What are you up to now/since you left F&P?

Thanks to Fish&Pips training programme with Chef Adam Byatt, I was able to secure a stage (chef work experience) at his restaurant Trinity in Clapham following my second season. I was offered a job with at the restaurant, and over two years worked up to a senior position within the team.

 

Working at the restaurant was one of the best decisions I ever made. However, after two years I started to miss the intimacy of cooking for a private group of guests that I had come to love working with Fish&Pips.

 

Armed with Fish&Pips hospitality and Michelin restaurant training, I launched my own private catering business, R.Byard Private Dining, specialising in intimate dinner parties for 6-25 guests.

 

What learnings did you take from F&P to your new job?

My time at Fish&Pips enabled me to design bespoke menus for guests and gather first hand feedback from them; it offered me a platform to explore my own cookery and plating styles; and the comprehensive training equipped me with a practical knowledge of how to create a memorable dining experience for guests.

 

These experiences have been instrumental in developing my own business.

 

Have any of your chalet chef dishes made the cut in your new place of work?

No exact dishes, but I have taken a lot of inspiration from my chalet menu for dinner parties. Since leaving Fish&Pips I’ve refined my cookery a lot more so the dishes have come a long way, but their flavours are the same.

 

Where was your favourite place to eat in the Three Valleys?

The best meal I ate in the Three Valleys was at La Bouitte in Saint-Martin. It took a good few weeks of saving up tips to afford it but was well worth it!

 

Le Farcon was also fantastic and had a very reasonable set lunch.

 

Do you have a ‘season made’ moment during your time with Fish&Pips that stands out in your memory?

None appropriate for a professional platform…

 

Where do you aspire to be in the next 5-10 years?

Living somewhere coastal, growing my own vegetables and owning lots of dogs.

 

Career wise, I’m not sure. My business is perfect for me right now but there may come a time when it’s no longer possible for me to travel all over the country (and continent!) Possibly running my own café or neighbourhood bistro..

 

Any words of advice for someone starting off as a chef or wanting to work as a chalet chef?

My main advice to aspiring chalet chefs would be the think about what your guests want to eat, rather than what you want to cook. Whilst intricate techniques and unusual flavour pairings may excite you, they may not be exactly what your hungry guests would like to devour after a hard days skiing! I found the best chalet dishes to be the old favourites with a more refined delivery.

 

Check out Bex private dining on Facebook: @R.Byard Private Dining. Any events coming up… she is your girl!

 

Rhys Bennett 

What year(s) you worked for F&P, how many seasons did you do in total with us?

I worked for Fish&Pips for 2 seasons, my first winter (2010 to 2011) was in Val d’Isere, with a very brief stint towards the end of that season in Méribel, covering for an injured host. I enjoyed Méribel so much in the small time I had, that I returned for the second season (2011 to 2012) in Chalet Braye.

 

What are you up to now/since you left F&P?

Towards the end of my first season, Holly Fisher approached me about the opportunity to work on Alderney for the coming summer, and help open and work in the kitchen at The Georgian House Hotel, alongside Kevin Honeywood (a fellow F&P chef) and a wonderful couple (Jessica and Chris), among many other amazing individuals from the winter seasons and elsewhere!

 

After my second summer in Alderney, I made the move to Australia, initially with a years working holiday visa. I was very fortunate to find employment with a Spanish restaurant called MoVida, who thankfully sponsored me, and thus allowing for me to stay past the years initial time stamp. I stayed with MoVida for over two and a half years, and still to this day has been some of the tastiest food I’ve had the pleasure of both cooking and eating! I moved straight from MoVida to Dinner by Heston and was part of the team to open the restaurant in Melbourne’s Crown Casino, once The Fat Duck ‘pop-up’ had left. I stayed for just under 3 years, and got to work on Meat/Stocks and Sauces/Hot Larder/Cold Larder and Garnish sections, unfortunately leaving before I had the chance to work on the Fish section. The techniques, systems, managerial requirements and sheer amount of hours worked at DBH was incredible, and has taught me to look and think about food very differently, with the idea of consistency, without compromising flavour and possibly aesthetic being the focus. With the two jobs behind me, I took some time away from the kitchen to learn more about food service and improve my knowledge of wine, so after a conversation with one of the managers I had previously worked with at MoVida, I returned, but in a FOH capacity. This ‘time’ allowed me to also look for a job which I had been longing for, a senior position, as there were so many ideas I had with no outlet to express them. To do so required for me to be in a position where I was no longer being told what to do, but for the first time, I was the one being able to freely experiment and put the ideas into practise! I have now found that ideal job as head chef at the Westwood in Melbourne: www.westwood3003.com

 

What learnings did you take from F&P to your new job?

Working with Fish&Pips taught me to budget for the first time (which, if you were to ask both Clare and Judy, they’d tell you I still wasn’t the best). Being efficient with my time, as I had no one telling me I needed to be ready at a certain time, but also not being stuck in the kitchen all day. I learnt how to organise myself so I could have a healthy balance between mountain time and working. Taking on board what the guests wanted, listening and adapting to their needs is vital, as the whole reason why I love the Fish&Pips brand and concept so much, is the service that Holly and Phillipa require to be delivered to guests, from the moment they book the holiday to post holiday care too. Plus I hadn’t had much experience in dealing with customers up until this point, which was a fun and challenging prospect to be faced with. I’d worked as part of a team before, but the role with Fish&Pips requires you to get involved with pre-season set up, during the season, you may be asked to do jobs outside of just cooking for the guests and then the post season pack down, again, it taught me to be a little more open minded about the fact that a job could require me to do more than just cook some food in a kitchen.

 

Have any of your chalet chef dishes made the cut in your new place of work?

We operate 6 days a week in my current workplace, and serve brunch from 8am to midday, every Saturday and Sunday. Again, I hadn’t much experience cooking breakfast for customers before Fish&Pips, but I have stuck to what I learnt over those seasons regarding breakfast. Many of the breakfast specials I would do on a weekly basis have made their way onto my current weekend brunch menu. Eggs Benedict & Florentine, a Croque Monsieur and Madame, even down to a good poached egg!!

 

Where was your favourite place to eat in the Three Valleys?

I couldn’t choose one favourite place, but Mountain burger has to get a mention, as well as La Fromagerie in Méribel town centre. LDV always did a good pizza, especially if a little dusty on a transfer day, after cleaning for the best part of the morning! The Tseretta in Les Allues also did really good Alpine cuisine.

 

Do you have a ‘season made’ moment during your time with Fish&Pips that stands out in your memory?

Season made moment has to be the countless times Judy Smith and myself (along with the majority of the team) would spend the afternoon of our days off at Folie Douce, then ski down to continue in the escapades. Any Bring Your Sisters night also normally ended in hilarity.

 

Where do you aspire to be in the next 5-10 years?

I’ve been in Australia for 7 years this year, and in August, will sit my Citizenship test, which fingers crossed will hopefully mean I’ll be able to remain, not that I can’t already. Since arriving here, I have tried to learn as much as possible, about as much as possible where the hospitality industry is concerned so hopefully I will be in a good position in the very near future to open something of my own. What, where and when…yet to be decided upon!

 

Any words of advice for someone starting off as a chef or wanting to work as a chalet chef?

My biggest piece of advice, is; without cooking I would never have been able to travel as much as I have and continue to do, or be where I am today (geographically speaking). It is such a good skill to have when travelling and working, so don’t take it for granted. In recent years, I would have moments in the kitchen when the realisation would dawn upon me that I’m being paid to work with wonderful ingredients, cook elements of dishes and be around a very creative group of people in a wonderfully busy environment on a daily basis. I always feel so lucky that I have found a profession that I not only love, but get paid to do as well! It very rarely feels like ‘work’ to me, always remember to take a step back every now and then and just take it in, then get back to work, quickly, before anyone realises you’ve stopped…

 

Working for Fish&Pips was my first outing as a solo operator, where cooking was concerned. Be prepared, organised and once again, don’t take it for granted or take advantage of the fact that you’ve got this amazing job, cooking for guests in the French Alps for the best part of 20 weeks of the year. Working for Holly and Phillipa was one of the best starts to my career in cooking I could have had. Choose a good chalet company, but you’d be hard to beat Fish&Pips.

 

If you are in Melbourne and fancy something tasty, make sure you pop in and say hi to Rhys at The Westwood www.westwood3003.com.

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