Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Paris -- Cooking Lessons

I spend about 10 weeks a year in Paris, and something I do often is to take cooking lessons, almost exclusively at Atelier des Chefs. This school offers single hands-on lessons of between 30 minutes (prepare and eat lunch for 18 euros) and two hours. There are currently five locations in Paris, five in the rest of France, and also in Brussels, Dubai and London.

I almost always take the two-hour "
tradition" course and try to do it at the biggest atelier, on rue de Penthièvre (8ème), which happens to be near to my apartment. The maximum number of students at this location is sixteen, but generally there are between eight and twelve. The class breaks down into groups of three or four, depending on the total number, and each group makes every dish that is being taught, after a brief demonstration by the chef. Usually there are three or four dishes, based on a theme, such as my most recent class on crêpes (suzettes; roulées ganache framboisée; soufflées à la crème chibouste). I have taken courses on such diverse themes as cod, salmon, chocolate, potatoes, caramel, goat cheese, foie gras, macarons, etc. The chefs are generally excellent, and the recipes can really be made at home; quite a number have entered into my repertoire.

Lessons are announced 30 days in advance and may be booked only on the Internet, at The lunch lessons sell out instantly, so stay up late 30 days in advance if you are interested.
Warning: the lessons are in French and go pretty quickly; you can't fake it. If you don't speak good French, go with someone who does.

Bobby Jay


Anonymous said...

I did the cooking class and was actually across the table from Bobbyjay. As the chef spoke in somewhat incomprehesible French my language knowledge started to waver. Luckily Bobbyjay helped me out when demonstrations weren't enough. I learned about simply trimming the mushrooms instead of washing and losing the flavor. I was great to use a real knife and cut properly. My favorite queasy experience was deboning and stuffing the little quail. The stuffing was delicious fois gras, cut up chicken, egg whites, heavy cream and salt. I would have actually enjoyed some more spices to flavor the stuffing. We wrapped the quail in saran wrap and poached it for about 15 minutes. Voila! Put it on a bed of sauteed shallots, petite pommes de terre, chanterelles and you have a cocotte. We enjoyed the delicious meal with a lovey red wine. I think it was a Burgandy, but I'm not an expert, yet. My favorite part was the dessert. We made a type of individual bread pudding with almost powder, butter, sugar and eggs. Then we made a heavely flambe sauce of sugarm butter, Grand Marnier(bien sur, c'est la cuisine francaise, n'cest pas?)and clementines. To top it all off, the chef created a whipped cream with champagne. Oh la la ...

Bobby Jay said...

Thanks for your comment, Bearnaise Brenda. I agree that the quail stuffing was bland; you could hardly taste the foie gras. Quail usually is served with a fruity and/or spicy sauce, and perhaps the farce would have benefited from some spices in this vein, like cinnamon or quatre épices.

If I ever make this dish (doubtful because of the de-boning process), I will adapt the recipe in accordance with the foregoing.