I had so much fun cooking at my Cordon Bleu classes that I really wanted to take another cooking class while in Paris – this time at a more casual institute called La Cuisine Paris. This is a boutique cooking school located in the Marais that offers English speaking classes (mostly to tourists) that focus on a traditional french food (eg. macarons, croissants, pain au chocolate, baguettes and breads, market tours and soufflés). At first I was interested in taking the boulangerie course (where you learn how to make croissants, pain au chocolate and brioche and which is very popular) but it was sold out and I noticed it was only 3 hours. Having made croissants from scratch before, I know that it doesn’t take 3 hours to make them (it takes the whole day) and the website even says that things are prepped before hand. So I decided to sign up for a the souffle course – something that I really haven’t had a lot of practice making. I tried making a chocolate soufflé once but not having eaten a lot of soufflés in my day, I wasn’t sure if it turned out right or not.
I could not have picked a better course! We learned how to make a carrot and cheese soufflé and a grande marnier soufflé. There were 9 of us in the class so we split up into two teams with one team making the savory soufflé and another team making the dessert soufflé. Turns out I would be cooking the Grande Marnier soufflés with a family visiting Paris for their first time for a week (a mom, her two daughters and their aunt) from the California Bay area. The whole class was American (except for me). The other people in the class were from New York, Washington, DC and Seattle.
I couldn’t have asked for a better team. I could instantly tell that these ladies knew their stuff, were comfortable with weighing ingredients, beating egg whites and folding. I can’t say the same for the other team (who stirred their mixture instead of folding and spent an hour pushing cooked carrots through a tamis (I am totally going to buy one of those when I get back – I thought it was only used for sifting but you can also use it to puree).
Overall the class was a lot of fun but it was definitely geared towards the “hobby/home cook”. Also, it felt a little bit like a production line because the chef had to clear us out for another class that was scheduled later on in the afternoon. But I am still glad that I took it. I have to say that the soufflés turned out perfect – they were beautiful! Yay team!
Another great thing is that after the class they provided us with a map of food places in the neighbourhood and a coupon for 10% off at a kitchen supply store called E. Dehillerin (apparently Julia Child would purchase cooking equipment there). Of course because there were locals who worked there, I picked their brains about how the Velib bikes work (Bixi’s European cousin) and where they got the bread that was served in class (it was delicious). Turns out, they got the bread from the same bakery (Au Petite Versailles du Marais) that I frequent. I have been having nothing but good luck when it comes to food on this trip!
Chef Randall was fun. He was telling us all these stories about when he cooked at a Chateau for a countess and how there were ghosts in the castle. He also met Julie Child when he was cooking for an event. He’s even written a book called “Cooking for Joy” (the countess’s name was Joy) about his experiences. That’s the second chef I’ve come across who has cooked at a castle. It sounds like the cooking culture is indeed, a lot different than in North America.