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Holly, 31, is part-owner of Fish&Pips, which offers gastro chalet holidays in Meribel and Val d’Isère. Susannah Osborne finds out more about the successful chalet owner.

2539 holly fisher


What first brought you to the Alps?
A love of skiing, food and adventure! My dad is a keen skier, so I already had the ski bug in me and a season was always in the back of my mind as one of those things that had to be ticked off the list before getting a ‘proper’ job and settling down. My oldest pal had already done a season in Val d’Isere which she adored and said that we had to do one together once we finished university.

What are your first memories of the mountains?
ESF ski lesson aged four. My dad was determined to turn his girls into extreme skiers, as he didn’t have sons. I remember long, tortuous mornings at ski school being pushed to the back of the 18-child line. I remember the freezing cold and the inappropriate skiwear. But there were some amazing first memories of skiing down the mountain for the first time between Dad’s legs, making new friends, going fast, eating big breakfasts and drinking hot chocolate.

Ski or board?
Skiing, definitely! I would love to do both but whenever I have tried boarding I have been utterly abysmal.

What’s a typical day for you during winter?
My typical winter day is never typical! Things are always changing because there are so many variables that play a part in running a chalet company – the staff, guests, vehicles, maintenance, travel, injury, skiing, chalet owners and weather! I spend a great deal of time at my computer four days a week, at least one day a week travelling to and from Meribel. Skiing goes to the bottom of the pile, but if I get two outings a week on the slopes I’m happy!

Describe your path to becoming the owner of Fish&Pips?
Towards the end of our first season working in Meribel, my friend and now business partner Philippa and I had long talks about what to do when we got home. We always came back to working together, cooking yet learning new skills in business; and if it could facilitate skiing and living in the mountains then that would be pretty good. Setting up a chalet company seemed the logical solution. We spent the summer and winter learning the skills we needed and started putting feelers out for chalets. We eventually had a call about three small chalets in Meribel Village and within a days we’d signed a three-year contract. The year that followed was the hardest yet most rewarding year of my life.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Outsiders would probably say that my greatest achievement would be setting up a chalet company in France in my early 20s, or writing a cook book, or winning the Times Chalet Chef 2010, or opening and turning round a restaurant in the Channel Islands. But I would say my greatest achievements are taking the plunge, following a gut feeling and finding something that I love doing.

Do you feel like you’re living the dream?
I ski in winter and I surround myself with food, which is my main passion in life. It is not as glamorous as everyone imagines, though, and I rarely switch off from work. But it’s my dream and I enjoy it.

Where is your most treasured place in the Alps?
It would have to be Meribel and Les Trois Vallees as this is my Alpine home and where it all began. One of my most treasured spots is watching the sun set from the top of Saulire, then skiing empty slopes with legs burning and a grin on my face.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to move to the Alps?
Try to learn the language, as it gets you a long way in France. Be prepared for lots of bureaucracy and paper-pushing! Think of something that will fill your summers, not just your winters.

What would you be doing if you weren’t The owner of Fish&Pips?
Absolutely no idea, I can’t possibly imagine where or what I would be without it!

Fish&Pips (+44 845 474 1054;
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