Tell us more about the inspiration behind the concept of The Refuge?
When I was younger, I flew out to Courchevel to create a chalet company in a beautiful chocolate box chalet by the side of the piste in Courchevel 1550 called Chalet Barragiste.
From there I played host to many a holiday maker, group of friends or family over the next five winters, creating beautiful food for the most discerning foodies and skiers who came through those doors, as well as playing host to a few alpine supper clubs too!
The Refuge is homage to when he used to go touring and at the end of the Season. We would head to The Refuge hut after the last lifts to enjoy an evening under the stars, drinking and eating fondue in celebration before skiing down the back of the run, les avals at Sun Rise. It’s a taste of The Alps at Winter Wonderland!
When did you start your pop ups?
The story of how I started my pop-up food events business is always a pretty good one. Having grown up in Yorkshire with a food-obsessed Spanish father, at 19 I took on a job working as a chalet chef in France, followed by stints as a private chef on a Mediterranean superyacht every summer during uni. Shortly after arriving in London, I really wasn’t enjoying my job in the City as a broker so I instead decided to turn my front room in Balham into a restaurant one evening a month.
I borrowed the tables and chairs from a local church, posted notes about it through neighbours’ letterboxes and asked my housemates to serve everyone, which they duly did! This continued until they got so popular, they kept selling out so I had to start searching for bigger venues. Also my flatmates wanted their living room back!
I then started hosting dinners all over London in places like wine shops and warehouses, to a pub in Balham where during the winter of 2014 I served fondue to all his guests and the winter pop up, The Lodge was born. 7 years on, we’re popping up in the best venues and so excited to be here at Winter Wonderland this year for the first time!!
How do you curate your pop up menus for the winter?
We always say we give the people what they want at our popups- lots of melted cheese and winter warmers in the winter! Dishes that encourage communal dining and that sense of togetherness and sharing on a cold winters night. From fondues to steak stones and charcuterie platters.
What’s the thing you love the most about what you do?
Making people happy.
What people should expect when they come… without giving everything away!
Fun, festivities and fondue!!
For more information and how to book, visit https://www.jimmyspopup.com/hpww2021