Travel to France and learn basic French cooking skills from experienced chefs in beautiful Gascony. Learn basic knife skills, try your hand at filleting fish, make foie gras from scratch, and prepare the most delicious French pastries.
Day 1: Arrival
You will be shown to your unique room and have a chance to relax and experience the true Gascon lifestyle while enjoying a walk in the historic village at your own pace. In the evening you will serve local aperitifs and hors d’oeuvres on the Cookery School’s terraces and admire the region's natural beauty. This is when you will also meet the other guests and discuss the schedule for the coming week with chef David. A four-course dinner will follow to get you ready for the wonderful delights you will start preparing the next day.
Day 2: Knife skills
After breakfast you will take a tour of the kitchen and have a basic course in knife skills and knife handling. You will start working on two types of sauces (French dressing and sauce suzette) and on an ornately decorated puff pastry desert (gateau pithiviers). Following these activities, you will try your hand at making chef David’s famous pizza gersois – topped with sliced duck breast, olives, peppers, onions, and sun-dried tomatoes. You finish your first morning class by making a sweetened pastry (pâte sucrée) that you will use to bake a tarte aux pommes.
After lunch you will go to the kitchen in order to explore the art of making four types of foie gras with your second instructor, Chef Bernard, and start preparing a most iconic Gascon dish – cassoulet. You will take a tour of chef Bernard’s restaurant and kitchen where you will be able to see what it takes to cook in a professional kitchen on a larger scale. Bernard will also assist you in making crêpes for dinner and you will also use one of the sauces prepared earlier in the day. At the end of the class you will make two pastries (pâte sablée and pâte sucrée) and wrap the day off with a wine museum tour and dinner at chef Bernard’s restaurant.
Day 3: First class
After breakfast you will head out to the market in Fleurance to pick and buy the produce needed for the classes scheduled for later in the day. Take a short trip to the town of Lectoure after you finish shopping and have a lunch at a local café before returning to the school to continue your classes.
The lessons will include learning the correct way to fillet a fish, learning to make a veloute sauce from scratch, and baking a tarte aux pommes. Chef David will let you in on some secrets when it comes to plating and presentation of dishes. You will enjoy the fruits of your labor for dinner.
Day 4: Poultry class
Grab breakfast early in the morning and head to the kitchen where you will learn to bone a chicken and prepare ballotine de poulet (stuffed boned chicken). Learn to make a delicious mushroom sauce to go with the chicken and start preparing a soupe aux deux poivrons (two-pepper soup) and a zingy tarte au citron. You will have lunch with Chef Bernard and then visit the 17th century castle situated in Gramont. After the tour, relax a bit in the village before joining Chef David to finish up all preparations for dinner.
Day 5: Sauces
Today you will prepare several dishes with Bernard. The main focus will be on French desserts: crème pâtissière, crème brulée, and crème caramel. You will learn to make a staple sauce of French cuisine - sauce béchamel, and try your hand at preparing a sauce reduction - jus de vin rouge.
After lunch you will take a short trip to Château de Cassaigne where you will learn about the famous distilled brandy, Armagnac, followed by a tour of the medieval fortified village of Larressingle. Finish the day at Chef Bernard’s restaurant where you will feast on the cassoulet you prepared at the beginning of the week.
Day 6: Departure
After breakfast, say your goodbyes and check out anytime until 11:00 a.m.
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