Colette is a concept store in Paris. It’s so in with the fashionable crowd that during Fashion Week even Chanel did a pop-up shop with Colette. And if you’ve been on the hunt for the right Paris cooking class, take note: once a month Colette offers a class called Cooklette.
According to Colette’s Anaïs Sidali, Cooklette is just something that Colette does because they want to offer a fun activity for their customers. The Water Bar downstairs is an ideal location. They just push some of the center tables together and voilà: cooking atelier.
When I was invited to participate in the class, to my left was Stéphane Bureaux, coauthor of Design Culinaire, a book full of fantastic photos and food ideas. As far as culinary concepts go, Design Culinaire is to food what haute couture is to fashion.
To my right were a couple of young ladies who had, after three attempts, finally gotten lucky enough to get the reservation for the course. It seems Colette doesn’t take reservations months in advance; only the first to sign up each month get to come. The class apparently attracts the most passionate foodistas: those girls were raving about their intended brunch that Sunday at Chloe.S.
My advice: subscribe to the Colette newsletter, sign up for Cooklette the second it’s announced and get ready for some culinary fun.
I booked one of these cooking classes through the Fédération Française de Cuisine Amateur (FFCA), which I found while poking around a Paris city hall (Mairie de Paris) website. And guess what? It’s free!
The program instantly intrigued me. In Paris they have taken the concept of cooking with market-fresh ingredients to the next level and set up amateur cooking classes right at the markets themselves.
There are cooking classes scheduled at the markets in every arrondissement in Paris. This one was at place Monge, just a few steps away from the famous rue Mouffetard in the 5th. The place de l’Alma market (Saturdays and Wednesdays) often attracts an international crowd, and there you will likely be able to speak English.
The class began with shopping. Our assignment was a quick cake made with clementines, dates and a cream filling. So the chef, who hailed from the Atelier Guy Martin, accompanied us around the market stalls while we purchased our goods.
They had on hand already the other key ingredients: lady fingers and a delightful orange blossom water for infusing the cream with its delicate citrus flavor. We heated anise-flavored orange juice, dissolved gelatin into the juice and soaked the lady fingers in the mixture. This formed the “cake”; the clementines, dates and cream made up the filling.
All told, the class lasted about 45 minutes. There were eight of us, plus the chef and the organizer, who was a well-spoken young man from the FFCA. It is with the FFCA that the mayor of Paris and city hall have partnered to offer these cooking classes to anyone who would like to participate. You just need to reserve in advance on the website.
I must say, this is one of the loveliest foodie-cultural experiences I’ve had so far on my food and wine quest in Paris!
Read more by Paige Donner at Local Food and Wine.