No, this wasn’t a cooking class on French cuisine… it was a cooking class taught entirely in French. With everyone in the class speaking only in French!
By this time I was on my third week of French immersion school and I wasn’t sure if I could survive the class. While I was able to express myself coherently, I had (and continue to have) trouble with understanding conversations or instructions around me.
I had long creeped the Atelier & Saveurs schedule for cooking classes that may interest me, and there was one that I just couldn’t pass up:
Menu: Une cuisine chaleureuse et réconfortante
- Entrée: Potage Parmentier de courge, champignons enoki, crème sure à l’érable, grissini au prosciutto
- Plat principal: Magret de canard rôti au miel d’épices, polenta crémeuse aux champignons, pétales d’oignons et pointes d’asperges vertes
- Dessert: Éclair à la crème de pistache, croquant de céréales choco-lactée
It didn’t matter if I understood the chef! I signed up. I would still be able to see how to cook these dishes, and at the very least, eat them!
It was a three-hour long cooking class which included preparing these restaurant-quality dishes and of course, (the best part) eating them in a dining hall. It was very different from my previous cooking classes wherein each class focused on preparing a certain type of food (soups, starches, salads and appetizers, meat, fish, poultry, etc.) and we just ate them in the kitchen. The cost of both these three-hour cooking classes was around $100.
Only a 15-minute walk from our apartment, Ateliers & Saveurs holds courses on cooking, wine-tasting, and cocktails taught by professionals in the restaurant industry. They have courses literally everyday, in both Québec City and Montréal. It’s the perfect activity for a home cook and/or foodie! I highly recommend taking a class here if you’re visiting town.
I was a little nervous of how it would all go down. Not for the cooking part, but for the French part. I arrived 10 minutes early. People were already ~mingling~ in the dining hall.
EVERYONE came with a partner or a group (couples, girl friends). I was the only loner LOL. I was a little shy to interact in French, so I just took photos hehe.
Then it was time to start! Aprons on!
We were about 12 people in the class and worked on the three dishes simultaneously. First, we made the pâte à choux for the éclair. Next, we worked on the veg prep for the two savoury dishes. We started the soup soon after. Then, we seared the duck breasts… you get it. The three hours went by just like that. We also plated the dishes ourselves. After tasting each course, we went back to the kitchen to do a bit more cooking and assemble the dish on the plate.
Let me break it down per dish:
Entrée: Potage Parmentier de courge, champignons enoki, crème sure à l’érable, grissini au prosciutto
My translation: Butternut squash soup with enoki mushrooms and maple-sour cream, served with a prosciutto-wrapped grissini bread stick
Plat principal: Magret de canard rôti au miel d’épices, polenta crémeuse aux champignons, pétales d’oignons et pointes d’asperges vertes
My translation: Duck breast pan-seared with honey and spices, served with creamy polenta, mushrooms, onion petals, and asparagus
Dessert: Éclair à la crème de pistache, croquant de céréales choco-lactée
My translation: Éclair filled with pistachio cream, topped with crunchy milk chocolate Rice Krispies
At the end of the night, Chef Antoine thanked us for our participation.
All in all, I understood about 70% of what was said in the class. Watching all those episodes of Un Chef à L’oreille and Les Chefs and using French cookbooks paid off! At first I was shy to ask questions in front of the whole class, but I just gave it a go. For example, I learned what ciboulette and trancher meant! Whenever I didn’t understand a process, like how to cook the duck breast, I just quietly asked the chef in private. LOL. Chef Antoine was extremely accommodating!
During the tasting, I forced myself to converse with those seated beside me… two men that were my dad’s age. Haha.
Since then I’ve taken two more cooking classes at Ateliers & Saveurs – a one-hour lunchtime class (tuna tartare) and another three-hour class (five tapas dishes). The one-hour class (30 minutes cooking and 30 minutes tasting) costs only $25 – not too bad if you ask me.
Needless to say, these cooking classes have been great. I’ve been hitting two birds with one stone – improving my listening skills in French AND my cooking! And being able to indulge in delicious food (without cleaning up) doesn’t hurt either.
Ateliers & Saveurs is located at 830 rue St Joseph Est, Québec City, Québec G1K 3C9. Their Montréal location is at 444 rue Saint Francois-Xavier, Montreal, Québec H2Y 2T3. Cooking, wine-tasting, and cocktail courses are offered on a daily basis. Make your reservation here.