- 19, Jun 2019
- All things Paris
- Anna Livesey
Anyone who watched Pixar’s Ratatouille and fell in love with French cuisine will be a fervent believer that “anyone can cook”. But becoming a true Michelin-starred chef like Remy the rat also takes hard work and some guidance from the professionals. So why not put your stay in the land of wine and cheese to good use by brushing up on your own skills in fine French gastronomy? From mastering macarons to the basics of baguette baking, Paris has a cooking class for foodies of every experience level – including the ones that don’t speak French. Which means that whether you have Remy’s impeccable taste buds or his communications skills instead, you can still learn to cook like a true Parisian chef.
Photo the property of Le Cordon Bleu ©
The crème de la crème: Le Cordon Bleu
We may as well start at the top end. Since it’s opening over a century ago, the Cordon Bleu has gained universal recognition as France’s foremost school of cooking and hospitality. Every year 20,000 graduates of the institution go on to become worldwide masters of the culinary arts. Le Cordon Bleu’s year long diplomas are known for their gruelling training but the good news is that you don’t need to put yourself through that trauma to get a taste of life on the inside. A variety of short courses and day-long workshops are available to the public, covering topics as precise as foie gras and the French yule log, or as broad as wine pairing, bread baking, and patisserie. Classes are conducted in French, with a translator on hand to clear things up for the English speakers in the room.
Haute Cuisine for Dummies: École Alain Ducasse
Chef Alain Ducasse may hold a whopping 21 Michelin stars but his cooking school in Paris is designed to be equally as welcoming to novices as old-hands. From all-round beginner courses in gourmet French fare to coffee and wine masterclasses, the École Alain Ducasse is bound to have a session to tempt you. Located in the classy 16th arrondissement, the space was specifically designed by Ducasse and his team to be as spacious and user-friendly as possible. Intimidating equipment is kept to a minimum, meaning you’ll easily work your way around these state of the art kitchens. And unlike at the Cordon Bleu, classes at Ducasse’s school are delivered directly in English.
Kitsch but cosy: Le Foodist
Now for a more homely option: when they set up shop inside a converted Parisian apartment, the team behind Le Foodist decided to conserve the cosy feel of the place. Adjacent to the kitchen is a dining room with flowers and a rustic crockery cabinet. Once you’ve learnt all there is to learn about French cuisine, you’ll sit down to enjoy your creations around a neatly spread dinner table. That’s because Le Foodist’s mission statement is all about sharing: of food, culture, and good conversation. You could say it’s more dinnertime with your knowledgeable French grandma than bootcamp in Gordon Ramsey’s kitchen.
Infiltrate a Michelin Star Restaurant: L’Atelier des Sens
Want to find a class as nearby as possible? L’Atelier des Sens has three bases around Paris: one near the historic Place de la Bastille, another by contemporary art gallery, the Centre Georges Pompidou, and a third along the iconic Boulevard Haussmann. Workshops take a regional focus, crossing the globe from Australia and the Antipodes to France’s Auvergne region. Or else, book a masterclass with the chefs of several major Parisian restaurants in the heart of the restaurants themselves: Maguey, the Abattoir Végétale, Anicia and more are all up for grabs. It’s possible to filter by language on the Atelier des Sens website, but we recommend contacting the team to double check your chosen option is guaranteed to be English-friendly.
One for the English speakers: Cook’n with Class
With this one it’s easy to assure you’re in for a linguistically accessible experience: all Cook’n with Class’ classes are conducted 100% in English. Now an institution among the expats and tourists of Paris, for ten years Cook’n with Class has been drawing hordes to its headquarters in the picturesque streets of Montmartre. The school’s culinary curriculum may look simple but it covers the very essence of traditional French cuisine: croissants and choux pastries, baguettes and béchamel. For a slightly higher price, you can combine your class with an accompanied trip to the local market beforehand. Classes at Cook’n with Class are usually restricted to an intimate six or eight people, though larger groups can be arranged for team building or hen dos.
Combine cooking with sightseeing: La Cuisine Paris
If you’re looking for a way to fold your cooking class into some more conventional touristing, look no further than La Cuisine Paris. Alongside the standard serving of masterclasses and market tours, this cooking school offers walking tour packages to introduce you to some of Paris’ prettiest areas. Burn off some calories strolling around the Marais or the Île Saint Louis before gaining them again during a food-filled atelier. Situated just over the river from the cathedral of Notre Dame, La Cuisine de Paris has three main kitchens: two underground in a typical Parisian cave (cellar) and one on the school’s second floor with a glorious view out onto the Seine. All classes are taught in English.
Conjugate as you cook: Learn the language by mastering the food
Attending an English-friendly cooking class is all well and good but if you really want to crack the French culinary scene, you’ll need to refresh those rusty language skills. Here’s an easy way to do both: try a combined cooking and language course. There are a few options available in Paris but we recommend a programme run by prestigious language school, France Langue. The school’s Introduction to French Gastronomy package pairs a rigorous week of study with two 2-hour long cooking workshops. Because irregular verbs are so much more interesting when they mean that steak slides perfectly tender out of the oven.
Photo the property of Le Cordon Bleu ©
Get the kids involved: children-friendly classes
One last suggestion for those hitting Paris with the kids in toe: make cooking a family event! You needn’t be intimidated to bring the young ones along, almost all the schools listed above have courses adapted to youthful audiences. Even the Cordon Bleu has developed a tailor-made Petits Cordons Bleus workshop, designed to coax budding chefs into the industry. The classes are open to any child aged between 8 and 12. École Alain Ducasse and Cook’n with Class also have excellent kids’ courses. Who knows, you may just have given birth to the next generation’s Michel Roux Jr!
Not convinced of your culinary potential? Just want that French gourmet goodness served up the easy way? Check out our recommendations for the perfect Parisian evening of food, wine, and evening entertainment.
If you enjoyed this listicle, check out others from our team here at Theatre in Paris: