Cooking Classes in Paris: Putting on the Ritz

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A group photo of the cooking class at the Ritz Escoffier, in Paris

Group photo—smile!

And I’m not talking Ritz crackers here. I’m referring to the gourmet cooking classes in Paris available at the Ecole Ritz Escoffier, located in the scrumptiously opulent Ritz Hotel at the Place Vendôme.

The Ritz Escoffier offers a wide variety of classes in English, from Les Petits Marmites for children to a program for professional chefs. The Ritzy break class was created so that neighboring businesspeople could come in and learn while lunching for an hour. It includes a main course, wine and coffee, and is a great option for visitors on the go. If you have a bit more time, and you’d like an alternative to the restaurants in Paris, there is a class that includes a market visit followed by a three-course meal you help prepare. There is even a healthy-eating class for CEOs on the go, flower arranging and a cocktail class with Colin Field, the world’s greatest bartender according to Forbes.

Plate covers lined up like soldiers in the kitchen at the Ritz Escoffier

Plate covers lined up like soldiers.

Before our class began, we were given a brief glimpse into the hotel’s beautiful kitchens, featuring artistic representations of food and etched-glassed windows framing the industrial equipment that is arranged with military precision. Chefs worked calmly, each in his or her own dedicated work space.

Our teacher for the evening was the incredibly charming, enthusiastic Didier Steudler. Didier runs these cooking classes in Paris under the leadership of the Ritz’s head chef Michel Roth, and he was remarkably patient with our culturally diverse group.

We were to create a tomato-tart appetizer, followed by veal with sage. The lesson started with the sauce. Didier explained that the sauce is the basis to all good cooking and took us through the process, giving us practical tips and alternatives along the way. One of my favorite tips was for the tart crust; buy it premade, preferably at G. Detou or Picard.

Didier Steudler at the Ritz Escoffier

Didier getting saucy with us.

We were then put to work, peeling tomatoes, trussing and browning the veal and stirring the sauce. Very quickly we had a meal, which we happily sat down to, enjoying the red and white wine that had been provided. Didier cheated a bit and prepared a lovely dessert before we’d even arrived. To be honest, I am guessing he had his pastry chef prepare the dessert, because I can still savor the passion-fruit macaron. This is one of the best cooking classes in Paris I’ve ever had. The meal wasn’t bad, either.

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