Six till ten. Often the quicker of the evening shifts. Finish helping with dinner prep then laying up the tables for dinner. When there are few guests, we all eat at the same time as the guests and the two on duty fit in serving and clearing away at the same time. It makes us pace the courses and we can keep an eye on which tables need extras, a top up of water or bread, more wine or when they have finished and plates need clearing. During busier times the two on duty eat before service so that we can keep up with serving and clearing away and feeding the dish washer as we go. It gets things finished earlier and is much more efficient as there isn’t a huge pile of dry dishes to contend with later in the evening.
The second evening shift starts at seven thirty, when dinner is served and continues till the bar closes and guests have gone to bed.
Duties are split between serving and washing up. All the guests are seated on one or two long tables together and the three courses are served in large bowls and dishes. Each person then gets to help themselves to as much or little as they require, less wasteful and far far easier than plating everything up in the kitchen. Unless special dietry requirements are requested beforehand there is no choice, just plenty of good wholesome homemade food with the active skier in mind. I can mention the menu selection later on if I get requests!!!!
Once the three courses have been and gone, orders are taken for coffee, tea or infusions, the french love their herbal teas and like to select a tea bag and dunk it in their own cup of hot water. Stories of tea being made with water from the hot tap or by pouring hot milk on tea bags are plentiful from horrified english folk. These drinks are individually prepared using one of those wonderful expresso type machines that sits behind the bar hissing and straining under the pressure of hot water contained within its self, waiting patiently to prepare coffee, hot water, or using on tap steam, hot milk or vin chaud at a moments notice. the sort that requires the used coffee grounds to be noisily banged out into an open drawer under the counter and sends out clouds of hot steam if you inadvertently press the wrong button. Marvelously efficient when thirty assorted hot beverages need to be served at the same time. Just remember the right sized cup and corresponding saucer, with mini tea spoon, one sachet of sugar and a miniature home made amaretti biscuit, before they go to the table, and who ordered what and where.
Dinner service and tidying is usually easily finished by ten, leaving the last person on shift to continue serving drinks and tidying empties away into the night. Thankfully most guests are tired from a day on the slopes and head off to bed quite early, there are times though, that a particularly enthusiastic group come to stay and party on into the night, playing card games, chatting and consuming large quantities of alcohol, they are the fun nights to have, conversations in broken english and french, brought on by an alcoholic confidence and an excitement of being somewhere new.
We had one group in that drank us out of beer and a couple of spirits over two nights and were still the first ones up in the morning and spent the whole day out on the slopes.