Review of La Cuisine Paris Cooking Classes

An Ideal Course for Beginner Gourmets

Lemon meringue tartelettes at a Paris cooking class La Cuisine Paris.
••• A student at the Patisserie and Chocolates class puts the finishing touches on lemon meringue tartelettes. ©2010 Courtney Traub.

If you're looking for French cooking classes in central Paris and taught in English, La Cuisine Paris cooking school is a great option. Particularly for amateur cooks and foodies who are looking for a relaxed atmosphere to learn in and value the enjoyment factor over absolute rigor and precision, the palette of cooking classes offered by this company shouldn't disappoint.

Read related: Our Complete Gourmet Guide to Paris

Established recently by a Franco-American couple with a real passion for gastronomy sans snobbery, La Cuisine Paris offers a decidedly friendly, laid-back ambiance where even total rookies won't feel intimidated.

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My Pros:

  • Relaxed, unintimidating ambiance
  • The chef leading my class was friendly and experienced
  • Clean, attractive facilities and warm staff
  • Centrally located, with gorgeous views of the Seine and the city
  • Offers a wide variety of courses in both English and French

My Cons:

  • Class was a bit too short to allow a fully hands-on approach
  • School doesn't offer predefined multi-day or multi-week course packages

Course Details in Brief, and Practical Info:

  • Course content: Traditional French, organic, pastry and chocolates, and traditional market shopping are among the most popular.
  • Instruction Languages: English or French
  • Course Prices: Contact La Cuisine Paris for prices of individual classes.

A Delicious Afternoon: My Full Review

I was invited to a pastry and chocolate class at La Cuisine Paris-- an exciting prospect since baking and desserts are some of my strong suits.

But I'd always been shy about trying my hand at pastry, which I timidly believed to be out of my league. This seemed a great chance to get "broken in".

Read related: Best Patisseries (Pastry Shops) in Paris

Introductions

I was greeted by Franco-American couple and owners Jane Bertch and Olivier Pugliesi-Conti, who showed me around the new location of the cooking school, right on the banks of the Seine river near Hotel de Ville (Paris City Hall). Incidentally, the large kitchen windows afford great views of the river and the city.

Read Related: All About the Seine River: Facts, History, Sightseeing

In their former lives, Jane and Olivier worked in corporate banking and management consulting, respectively. Both avid foodies, the couple decided to make a jump and create a cooking school catering to English and French speakers. "Thanks to my previous life as a Corporate Banker, as my mother likes to tell people, I went from out of the frying pan, and in to the fire.... or maybe the other way around," Jane told me.

Upstairs in the kitchen (sunny, pleasant, with state-of-the-art equipment), the affable chef Justin Ward (one of ten working at the school) was getting to know the students. Originally from Texas, Justin trained in Paris at the prestigious Gregoire Ferrandi culinary school, and also works at Wedding Cakes Avenue in the city.

On the Menu: Chocolate Soufflé and Lemon Meringue Tartelettes

Justin set us to work (around 10 students, all English-speakers) on two classic French recipes: chocolate soufflé and lemon meringue tartelettes. It seemed ambitious for a class of only two hours, but we eagerly got to it, measuring out ingredients, stirring bubbling pots of chocolate, stickying our fingers with lemon juice, and learning how to perfectly line tartelette molds with dough.

The most challenging moments? Working the mixture of chocolate, eggs and butter for the soufflé (you really have to get your whole hands in there, using a handle-less spatula). Learning to make perfect meringue, and piping it out artfully onto the tartelettes using a pastry bag (probably the most intimidating but also the most enjoyable part). Making sure the souffles don't collapse before eating.

There were some small blunders and moments of confusion, but overall the recipes turned out beautifully.

My only real critique? The class was a bit too short to allow enough time for us to make the two desserts at our own novice speed, and the chef had to intervene and do some of the tasks on his own. This took away a bit from the otherwise hands-on approach.

Overall, I found the class enjoyable and accessible. The results of our efforts were delicious (I took home two of the lemon meringue tartelettes and quickly devoured them), and I'm feeling motivated to try what I learned in my own kitchen. I recommend La Cuisine Paris for English or French speakers who love to cook and want to boost their culinary arsenal, but above all like to have fun doing it.

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As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary services for review purposes. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our Ethics Policy.