Want to come over for langoustines with crystallized tomatoes and green cabbage?
More average French people can extend such invitations these days, thanks to the haute cuisine classes blossoming all over Paris.
Capitalizing on the success of his two-year-old outpost in suburban Argenteuil, star chef Alain Ducasse recently opened a second location, smack in the eighth arrondissement. Here, mostly middle-aged aficionados come to improve their skills and learn the tricks that allow them to turn out, say, a sophisticated sea bass dish with endives and truffles. An eight-hour class costs 290 euros ($385) and includes breakfast and lunch — which you cook yourself, mind you.
A more relaxed approach prevails at the six-month-old L’Atelier des Chefs. Brothers and owners Nicolas and François Bergerault discovered a hunger among 20- to 35-year-olds to learn how to cook — although not slave over the stove. To wit: the “one hour cook and eat your meal” class is the most popular.
For this, 15 to 20 people gather around tables as a young chef covers the basics for folks who barely know how to peel an onion.
Within a half an hour, though, sautéed veal with caramelized carrots or red snapper coated with tapenade are prepared, and the students sample their handiwork. The Bergerault brothers intend to open 10 more locations in France before the end of the year, including four more in Paris.
Meanwhile, at the Petrossian restaurant, Madame Petrossian hosts a caviar class. Twice a month, she gathers eight diners around her table to unlock the mysteries of caviar, with a tasting followed by a dinner.
If sweets are more your thing, hang in there: Pastry star Pierre Hermé, who just opened his second Paris outlet, recently started a pastry course for professionals at famous Grégoire Ferrandi cooking school, which might be open to the public soon.
L’Ecole de Cuisine Alain Ducasse, 55 Boulevard Malesherbes, 331-44-90-91 00.
L’Atelier des Chefs, 10 Rue de Penthièvre, 331-53-30-05-82.
Petrossian, 18 Boulevard de Latour Maubourg, 331-44-11-32-32.