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Gables Cookery School Case Studies

Case Study 3: Claire W 

After completing the course at GSoC I bought my own chalet/bar/restaurant in a ski resort in the French Pyrenees which isnít well known to English visitors so attracts mostly French and some Spanish clients. During my first summer here I did all the cooking myself with the help of a fellow student from the course using mostly recipes from the course folder. We received many compliments on the meals and excellent feedback in general from the guests, who were frequently surprised to find that a) weíd learned to cook in England, and b)English cooking isnít just edible but can even be delicious.

Iíve been here for two years now during which time iíve continued to receive very positive feedback on all aspects of guestsí stays and have had to deal with a variety of scenarios from septic tank problems - never pleasant - to being confined to the chalet for 2 days with 28 guests and no chef, as a result of heavy snow and an avalanche on the terrace.

I employ professional chefs to do most of the cooking as itís a full time job in the holiday season. Although I donít claim to be capable of cooking single handed for a full restaurant of lunching skiers, I still do my share of cooking and am very involved with all decisions regarding the menu and purchasing. I also make a lot of the desserts and it gives me peace of mind to know that i can step in and take over in the kitchen when necessary. The skills and confidence i have gained have also facilitated relationships with and earned the respect of the cooks and suppliers with whom i work.

I recently accepted an offer of partnership in the business from a French cook who worked here during my first winter season, and we are planning to increase the restaurant area and provide meals using organic and locally sourced fresh produce. This is a relatively new concept to the very rural south west of France. We are also making our own bread on the premises as a practical, organic and cheaper alternative to buying it; the nearest boulangerie being 10kms away and only delivering during the holiday season. The dessert menu will include a lot of English desserts as they have proved so popular and are very different to desserts found in most restaurants in the area. A particular favourite is fruit crumble, according to the recipe in the course book. Itís very simple, but Iím frequently requested to make it for French friends and it sells out quickly in the restaurant. Its an exciting time for me at the moment and we have lots of ideas to put into practice over the coming months which will hopefully attract more clients and double the turnover!

Take care and keep in touch

Love Clare

Clare W. 30 April 2007 4 week course



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