|From whom do the French learn how to cook? Certainly many have learned at their mother’s or grandmother’s knee, but increasingly, many are learning from sources outside the home. Professional cooks these days are less likely to start their careers as an apprentice in a restaurant than they are as a student in one of France’s many public cooking schools. Amateur cooks can participate in courses taught by local teachers or chefs as well as devour information from media sources such as magazines, books, and television.
One week in May, 2003, I sat with three of France’s cooking teachers to learn about their personal backgrounds, about their students, and about their personal experiences as cooking teachers. Each teacher is an instructive example of what France has to offer those who wish to learn more about the preparation of its food and culinary traditions
|Frédéric Médigue is the chef-owner of the Michelin-starred Le Château d’Amondans. The restaurant is located in the village of Amondans, 26 kilometers south of Besançon. Three distinct groups of students avail themselves of M. Médigue’s knowledge: Students from local culinary schools interning in the restaurant kitchen as part of their requirements for matriculation; students from culinary schools in Japan who spend five months in the kitchen working at all the stations as part of their curriculum; and local amateurs that gather in the kitchen for weekly classes taught by the chef.
||Jean-Marc Villard is an intervenant en cuisine Français, a consultant in French cuisine, located in Lyon, France’s self-proclaimed gastronomic capital. Following time at the helm of a Michelin-starred restaurant as well as industrial kitchens, M. Villard chose to work full time as a teacher of French cooking. His students include professional cooks improving their skills, serious amateurs wishing to broaden their knowledge, and tourists seeking an unusual experience. M. Villard admits, as he reveals in his interview, that he prefers to work with amateur cooks over professional cooks.
||Paule Caillat specializes in providing Paris visitors the experience of shopping in an open-air market and then preparing a meal with their purchases with her in her Paris kitchen. Other visitors choose to follow Mme. Caillat on a food-related expedition through a collection of some of Paris’ most venerable food institutions. In either case, the visitor is simultaneously educated about the food and culture of France and entertained by Mme. Caillat’s rich knowledge of the subject. As her promotional brochure states, she provides “a unique opportunity to get to know the real Paris and real Parisians…”