For the past few years Heston Blumenthal has been bringing his inimitable gourmet style to Italy’s Aosta Valley and ski haunt Courmayeur, where he hosts a three-day foodie extravaganza, the Mountain Gourmet Ski Experience (from £4,500 per person, excluding flights), which offers a chance to mingle with top-end chefs in a relaxed après-ski environment. “This year I have invited two new hugely talented guest chefs, Claude Bosi and Jason Atherton, who will be collaborating with Sat Bains on our two mountain dinners,” says Blumenthal. “Courmayeur has quickly become one of my favourite ski haunts, as it offers such amazing hospitality in its mountain restaurants: big plates of regional antipasti, bowls of homemade pasta, great wines and grappa.”
On Friday March 17, guests will arrive at the Grand Hotel Royal e Golf in the heart of Courmayeur, where the next few days will offer a mixture of skiing for all abilities and some hearty gastronomy. Skiers will be taken care of during the day, either on or off piste, by the Scuola di Sci Montebianco. Saturday night sees a seven-course tasting menu cooked by all the chefs at La Chaumière restaurant, plated in front of guests and paired with fine Italian wines – this year Blumenthal will offer guests a different slant on wine tasting and perception.
After another day on the slopes on Sunday, diners will be whisked up the mountain by cable car and snowmobile to Rifugio Maison Vieille. The jolly wooden venue is something of an institution here, and convivial owner Giacomo Calosi will host guests to a backdrop of music from band Kudos Live with a menu created by Atherton, Bosi and Bains, this time inspired by what the chefs would cook at home for their families. Monday is a chance to blow away the cobwebs with the optional extras of a dog sled or a jaunt up the Skyway cable car to get some stellar views of Mont Blanc, followed by a cocktail presented by The Fat Duck team by the open fireplace of the historic Caffè della Posta.