‘La Crème de la Crème’ Market Tour and Cooking Class in Paris
Tucked away on a tiny ‘passage’ just off the bustling, vibrant market street of rue Cler in the 7th arrondissement, the last thing you would expect to see when pushing open the front door of Charlotte’s home and workplace is a fully-fledged, gleaming professional kitchen that fills the entire floor. Built over 150 years ago, this four-storey dwelling still boasts original wooden beams and a charming spiral staircase, while the spacious and airy kitchen area contains all the modern equipment and utensils a professional or budding chef could possibly wish for, a real hidden treasure.
Charleston-born Charlotte has been living in Paris for almost 30 years and knows everything you need to know about where to shop for the best in seasonal products throughout the year – and the most appetising ways to transform these ingredients into delicious dinners. Fully trained in French cuisine and a ‘Grand Diplôme’ graduate of the toughest training programme of them all, Le Cordon Bleu, Charlotte is the co-author of “The Ethnic Paris Cookbook”, created with Olivia Kiang-Snaije to demonstrate that the French capital is a true melting pot of a wealth of flavours and cultures.
Charlotte offers private weekly market tours and personalised cooking classes in her home, and begins the morning with a rendez-vous at a fabulous open-air market such as the one on the avenue de Saxe, just next to the golden dome of Les Invalides. This typically Parisian food market is hard to beat, partly for its incomparable view of the Eiffel Tower in the background, but also because it offers everything from fresh fruit to vegetables that look as though they have just been plucked from the ground, and from innumerable varieties of regional cheeses to stalls with gleaming fish and seafood, recently fished from the 3,500 kms of coastline all around France.
Visiting the market with my group was a great experience, as we selected the final ingredients for the meal we would later be preparing together from her favorite farmers and chatted with them to glean tidbits about the cultural differences we take for granted. Depending on the season, the menu is always adapted to ensure we pick up the very freshest produce on the day, and choosing them with Charlotte was an education, adding the expert touch that even the most detailed cookery book cannot demonstrate on the day.
Back in Charlotte’s fabulous kitchen, where modern stainless-steel appliances stand in brilliant contrast to the weathered wooden beams and original stone walls, we set to and cooked up a storm, experiencing a true Parisian lifestyle lesson. As our resident Chef talked us through each stage we prepped and cooked a three-course meal from A-Z together, with lots of cooking tips thrown in and the techniques fully explained. All the recipes are created with the home cook in mind, so we knew we’d be able to confidently reproduce the dinner back home.
The beauty of this very Parisian class was definitely Charlotte’s adaptability. It was so useful to be given a handout of our recipes at the outset, which was perfect for making notes on and ready for us to take home with us. The icing on the cake, however, was sitting down around the table to enjoy the fruits of our labours together, over a very welcome glass or two of wine. During our meal it was a treat to chat about Paris, all things culinary and so many other things besides – not to mention planning what we’d like to learn at our cooking lesson on our next trip.
Charlotte keeps a note of what each guest has cooked, so you can learn new dishes each time you return: the seasonal possibilities are endless. This class can also be adapted on request to accommodate special dietary requirements, such as vegetarian or gluten free. We can’t wait to repeat the experience…
To find out more details of dates and availability of Market Tour and Cooking Classes with Charlotte, please email [email protected] for further information. Private events and alternative dates are available on request. For an overview of the cooking class details, read more here.
All photos by Nicola Collarile unless otherwise indicated.