TIGNES, France -- Each year at X Games Tignes, the event staff and athletes are welcomed to France with a special treat: a pastry buffet at lunch and dinner that rivals any five-star restaurant's dessert cart. Each day, the chefs de pâtisserie lovingly prepare -- from scratch -- a carefully curated selection of cakes, tarts, éclairs and custards, tempting the 500 people who filter in and out of the catering area over the three-day competition to just give in and gain the five pounds already.
While finding the odd brownie or Rice Krispy treat in the meal tent during X Games Aspen or Los Angeles is pretty standard, having daily access to a full-on French bakery experience is unique to the Tignes event. But for Xavier Poncet, the food and beverage manager at Hotel Diva, where all of the athletes and many of the staff stay in Tignes, it's just part of the job. Poncet's been with the Diva for a decade, working his way up from kitchen staff to his current position, and oversees a team of 12 as they serve the masses three squares a day.
When it comes to the sweet stuff, though, Poncet delegates the baking to Patisserie Cook Jean-Charles Gautier and his assistant. The pair whips up 14 different desserts for every staff lunch and dinner -- and 15 to 20 for the athletes. (We'd be jealous, but given how hard the pros have been riding this week, they can probably afford an extra helping.) The menu is decided in advance and approved by the event's organizers before the contest crew descends upon Tignes each year.
"Can't miss dessert!" says Willie Borm, an X Games rookie who competed in Men's Ski Slopestyle at Tignes, of the chocolate cake. "You know, you can't really hold back when there's just a table full of, like, cakes and ice cream and stuff."
Those working at X Games Tignes couldn't agree more. One staffer, realizing the damage done by her recently acquired three-a-day pastry habit, summed it up for all of us when she said, in reference to her snowboard pants, "That's it: last button. Nothing but zipper from here on out." (She wishes to remain anonymous for obvious reasons.)
From jam-filled doughnuts to buttery, flaky creations we dare not try to pronounce, the array of delectable desserts is impressive. So which is Poncet's favorite? As it turns out, none. "I make pastry, but I don't like [to eat] it," he laughs, claiming he's a "meat and fish and sauces" type of guy.
Fair enough, we say. More for us.