Diet and allergies
A substantial proportion of the public now needs or wishes to eat different food from the rest of their party, be it for religious, ethical or health reasons, or just because there are foods they don't like. The easiest thing for us is to accept the booking and take the money, knowing that chalets chefs and cooks work out of domestic kitchens, often with just four rings and an oven, and that it is practically impossible for them to serve more than one different menu unless they simplify everyone's food. YSE does not work like that.
We are committed to serving the best food we possibly can, without being unfair on our staff, so we have certain systems in place. We started this when one chalet cook in a chalet for eight was expected to cook six different menus from her four rings! It was not physically possible, the food could not be up to the standards we aim for, and nobody benefited.
There are certain diets we simply cannot provide. We do not have the separate fridges etc required for Kosher diets. We do not have access to Halal meats. And we will never take another booking from the man who only ate fried chicken and chips!
There are some allergies we cannot guarantee to be able to cope with safely, notably nuts. There are always nuts in our chalets, and although we will do our best to remove every trace, we cannot guarantee it.
There are diets we will try to provide, but may need help. Gluten-free foods are increasingly available in France, but less so than in Britain. Coeliacs may need to bring their own breads etc.
Our chalets are all able to provide one alternative meal at each dinner. It may be vegetarian, carnivorous, pescatarian, no red meat, no fish, no salt, no spice etc. Our philosophy is that the minority of guests who eat differently from their fellow-guests should eat as well as the majority, but without detracting from the quality of the majority's meals. This is only possible if the cook puts in extra time, and we ask the minority to pay £25 per person per week for this. The money all goes to the chef as a thank you. YSE does not keep any of it. If a guest just cannot eat one single meal, a simple alternative will be normally be provided without charge.
The Different Diets supplement is not aimed at vegetarians, but it is probably they who most often end up paying it (though we have had parties where the majority were vegetarians and the meat-eaters paid). Be assured: our vegetarian food is not the classic omelette or red pepper stuffed with leftover vegetables. It is almost unheard-of for a YSE vegetarian to say that his different diet was not worth the £4 per day!