Sep 26

Cooking the French Way


In June, R took me to Paris to celebrate my birthday. On top of that he did a sneaky and signed me up for a French cooking class. I was in HEAVEN! I have been dreaming of Paris ever since I was in my teens, and now a decade later I would be able to fulfill this dream AND attend a cooking class!! BOOYAH!!



The lesson took place at la Paris Cuisine cooking school,  80 Quai de l’Hôtel de Ville, 75004 Paris. This cooking school lies in the heart of the city, overlooking the Seine in the 4th arrondissement. Across the river lies Île de la Cité, a natural island in the middle of the river, housing the famous Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris.

Everything about Paris blew me away. I felt like I was in a perpetual living museum. There was something to see and photograph at every street corner. The entire week we spent in Paris was bliss ~ we were blessed with awesome weather and because we pre-purchased our Museum Pass and had them mailed to us a week prior we could just walk in and out of museums without queuing up. It made our time there that much more convenient. But I digress ~ I’m here to share my experience at this wonderful cooking class.


The day began bright and early. R had signed me up for the French Marché Class which involved touring the Maubert market, purchasing the fresh ingredients we will use during the class.  On the way I had to stop in at one of the bakeries for my morning dose of Pain aux Chocolat, which in my opinion is way better than a coffee fix in the morning. I meet up with the chef and the rest of the participants at 9:30 am in front of Cafe Metro. As the tour commenced I said goodbye to R, and he went on his merry way, seeking out his own entertainment for the next 4 hrs.

We started with an introduction and we all exchanged plesantries. Then chef Justin proceeded to walk us through the market, starting at the cheese stall ~ and boy were there a LOT of cheese!


Touring marche Maubert.


Chef Justin went on to explain how cheese was made in France and the various regulations involved that must be adhered to in order to authentically produce a cheese from a certain region. Even the box it eventually gets put in needs to meet with regulations ~ the type of wood used, the thickness of the wood, the shape … etc.

In the meantime we got to sample the produce, ask the vendor questions and buy some for our personal consumption. I learnt a lot in just a span of 15 minutes. Coming from an Asian upbringing, cheese was not something we grew up with as part of our staple diet. Sure we had the likes of Kraft cream cheese in a jar and slices of individually wrapped cheese slices …. but surely that’s not real cheese. I learnt to appreciate cheese during my 4 yrs living in Melbourne. I would say I prefer soft, gooey centered cheeses to hard ones.


Fruit and veggie stand ~ nothing but the freshest will do.





The vegetables looked absolutely gorgeous and food ideas were already pouring into my head. Chef Justin (pictured above) let us decide what we wanted to cook back at the school, so after a quick discussion we agreed we would have a starter of asparagus, a main of duck breast served with seasonal vegetables, and a chocolate dessert of some sort.


We wandered for a bit longer, savouring the visual delights the market had on offer ~ honey, mustard, foie gras, fresh fruit and veggies, chocolates and candy ~ i wanted to buy and sample them all.



Honey, beeswax and mustards.


Tasting Rillettes pur Cannard and Foie Gras



 Once we had all we needed for lunch, we headed back to the school, taking a breath-taking stroll across Île de la Cité passing the imposing and magnificent structure of Notre Dame de Paris. I have dreamt all my teenage life to see this building with my own eyes …. and there it was, in all its spleandour (and the massive lines of people trying to get in).


Notre Dame de Paris from across the Siene


We arrived at the school 10 mins later, arms and shopping bags laden with the wonderful fresh produce from Marche Maubert. I was the first to get to the front door and before I could get my hand on the handle, it opened and we were greeted by the owners.
We all sat down and were offers refreshments while the chef and his assistant prepped the kitchen. Twenty minutes later we were all ushered upstairs to the kitchen-cum-dining area, with large picturesque windows framing the river and Ile de la Cite outside. Natural light flooded in and I took a deep breath in ….. now I am ready to cook ….. where’s my knife??

Chef sharpens the knives as we all prepare to get cooking.


I was very eager to get down to business. We were each given a sheet with the recipe of a dessert – we made chocolate Muille Fuille with Italian Meringue – and we received instructions on how we were going to prep the starter and main courses.

Due to time constrains the job of preparing the meal for all 11 of us was divided up, instead of each of us preparing our own plate. Not overly thrilled about this. I expected to go in there and prep my own meal from start to finish. Oh well.

So here is what we came up with in the end.




Starter and Main Course - Asparagus in Hollandaise, Magret pur Cannard with seasonal roast veggies and a caramel soy sauce.


It was a pleasant experience. I got to score the duck breasts and prep the butter which we would use later to make the hollandaise. The others either whipped up the egg whites for the meringue or prepped veggies. Chef handled the duck breasts during the cooking process to ensure we didn’t screw it up, otherwise we would not have anything to eat for lunch besides veggies and a dessert. We plated our own plates based on the demo chef provided.


After the food was done cooking we all sat down to a nice lunch to savour the fruits of our labour. Chef Justin joined us and talked about food in general, namely the French approach and attitude towards it. It never ceases to amaze me how food is consumed in such a different way in France; it is embraced with such enthusiasm and they take their food very seriously here. I do not recall a single meal we ate while on our week long vacation here that was not done to perfection. Its such a wonderful lifestyle and I want to be part of it.


Vivre la France!




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