A Magical Visit to The Cook’s Atelier in Beaune, Burgundy

AP Wine The Cooks Atelier The Cook's Atelier
The Cook's Atelier The Cook's Atelier The Cook's Atelier
The Cook's Atelier Cook's Atelier Tomatoes for roasting
Radishes and salted butter Charentais melon with prosciutto Duck breast with spring vegetables
Cheese course Apricot tart Fini!

It is almost time to say goodbye to France for another year but before I do I just had to put up a post about the most extraordinary culinary experience of our trip.

Sarolta and I love hosting our annual culinary tour in Paris because, well, we love the city and the amazing food and drink and markets and boulangeries and patisseries and fromageries etc. etc. We love cooking together with our guests and showing them around Paris and after all these years visiting we feel pretty good about finding our way around the culinary hotspots. But then again France is an amazing country!  Sarolta and I started brainstorming about the possibility of offering a culinary tour that perhaps could offer the best of big, vibrant Paris as well as the small, bucolic countryside with it’s vineyards and pretty vistas of some other region of France. A place where the regional culinary scene is exciting yet steeped in tradition and the wine is amazing.

After last year’s tour my husband and I went on a little cycling holiday in Burgundy. Our first two nights were spent in Beaune and it was love at first sight. Beaune is a picturesque walled city with an amazing Saturday market and many great, family owned food shops. It is surrounded by some of the very best vineyards in the world and the art of eating well is taken very seriously here.

After this year’s Paris tour concluded  Sarolta and I were able to take some time to do research for next year’s trip and so we decided this was the perfect opportunity to go and re-visit this beautiful part of the country. We hoped to see if somehow we could add on a few days next year and provide a taste of Burgundy that would complement the Paris portion of our current tour.

With my sweet Mum in tow we booked an apartment, packed our bags, took an easy 2 1/2 hour train ride and arrived in beautiful Beaune in the mid afternoon. It was everything I remembered it to be. Lovely light, amazing wine and a good number of foods shops and restaurants that looked inviting. It was then I remembered that I had seen an article in Food and Wine about a place called The Cook’s Atelier run by a mother and daughter duo who host culinary tours and cooking classes in a beautiful light-filled store and kitchen space right in the centre of the city.

Marjorie Taylor and Kendall Smith Franchini own The Cook’s Atelier and love good food, good wine and Beaune, Burgundy. We checked on their website and realized that we were right in between the days when they offer scheduled classes but Sarolta emailed Marjorie, who couldn’t have been more accommodating, and a private shopping tour/cooking class was soon booked for the following day.

It may sound strange for people who teach cooking classes to be taking cooking classes, but here is the thing: cooking is all about learning. Anyone who genuinely loves to cooks understands that they will never know everything there is to know about ingredients and techniques, that there is always something new to learn and taste. This is what inspires me everyday. Also, if we were to bring a group to Burgundy we would need to find someone who really knows the local markets and shops and wine scene. From looking at The Cook’s Atelier’s beautiful website I knew Marjorie and Kendall were not only living the dream in Beaune but they were also sharing, in a thoughtful way, all of their knowledge of a place they obviously love.

The day we spent with Marjorie and Kendall was beyond magical. We shopped at some of their favourite places and made our way back to their atelier which is filled with an interesting selection of small production wines from France, Italy and Germany, linens and carefully curated cooking tools. Antique (refurbished) mezzalunas, French rolling pins, vintage marble mortars with wooden pestles and gleaming copper pots. From the main floor retail area you climb a flight of stairs to the kitchen and on the very top floor is a welcoming dining room complete with a long, zinc-topped table that can comfortably accommodate 10 guests. Flea market silver, vintage white linens, cream coloured ceramic plates and bowls, small vases filled with flowers and plenty of flickering candles. The entire place in everything I love in a kitchen/dining space.

We headed to the kitchen, tied on our aprons and made the Burgundian classic gougeres. We snacked on radishes with demi-sel butter, thin slices of cured meats and enjoyed well-chilled glasses of Crement. We had the most delicious salad composed of perfectly ripe chanterais melon and San Daniele prosciutto with purple basil and glasses of Chablis. The main course was a seared duck breast with spring vegetables that Kendall paired with a local Pinot Noir followed by the most amazing cheese course featuring the classic cheese of Burgundy, Epoisses. Dessert was an apricot tart, served with a good strong espresso. Just for good measure there was a plate piled high with freshly baked madeleines. We were presented with small jars of homemade apricot preserves when it (sadly) came time to leave.

I loved it all. The conversation and the introduction to some great shops in Beaune. The instruction and hands-on cooking together. The tips and techniques that we picked up along the way. The amazing food we enjoyed and the perfect simplicity in the way it was plated. The thoughtfulness of the wine pairings. Seeing the real ease, but very strong work ethic, of a mother and a daughter working together to make their dreams come true.

We spoke with Marjorie and Kendall about our plans to bring a group to visit next June. They are enthusiastic to show us around the city, cook together and even arrange for a wine tour by car or bike.

We can’t wait to go back and hope that some of you will be able to join us. Paris/Beaune Culinary tour 2015. That has got a pretty nice ring to it!

xo J


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Day 9 and 10 of the 2nd Annual Paris Culinary Tour

Designer Eggs! Salt
Marriage Frere photo copy 6 photo copy 4
St. Ouen Silver Aux Puces
Abbesses metro Abbesses
Last supper Friseé salad Dinner party

That’s a wrap! I can’t believe our second culinary tour is over! It has been a whirlwind ten days with our amazing group and both Sarolta and I are so grateful to everyone who helped make this year’s tour such a success. Thank you Lori, Amy, Marlene, Joanne, Harry, Martine, Jeannot, Mary-Yvonne, Glen, Ross and Max from the bottom of our hearts. We feel so lucky to be able to spend this time in Paris and share our love of the city with others. Bisous à tous!

Our final two days flew by. On Saturday we headed down to Saint-Germain-des-Prés to explore the amazing, newly renovated La Grand Epicerie at the Bon Marché. This place is truly the mecca for food lovers and our group enjoyed perusing the aisles in search of culinary treats.  The forecast had called for thundershowers but instead we had sunny/cloudy/breezy weather so we took advantage of our luck and strolled along the Boulevard St. Germain, stopping in at the beautiful church before making our way over to the Mariage Frères tea shop and museum to pick up some take-home gifts. We stopped in for drinks (thanks Lori!) on rue de Buci before making our way back up the hill to have a group dinner at a favourite local bistro in Montmartre.

On Sunday, our final day together, we set off in search of treasures at the Saint-Ouen flea market.  Our guests bartered their way to some great deals and even I managed to score some antique silver forks as well as a vintage ceramic bowl which I have no idea how I will get home to Vancouver in one piece!

We spent our final evening together cooking, talking, eating, and drinking in our lovely, light-filled apartment. We enjoyed some Champagne and hors d’oeuvres, a frisée salad with soft boiled eggs, bacon and garlic croutons and seared salmon with lentils topped with some mâche. Dessert was a pear tart with salted butter caramel ice cream. Coffee and orange biscuits rounded out our dinner. A delicious meal made all the sweeter by the company of new friends gathered around the table.

Time to start planning the 3rd Annual Paris Culinary Tour!

xo J

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Day 8 of the 2nd Annual Paris Culinary Tour

Brunch prep Amy's French omelette Group brunch
St. Lazare Old books A magical place
Bike About photo copy 11 Ice cream

Didn’t get around to posting yesterday as we had a busy day cooking, eating, walking, biking, walking and eating some more. Here are the visual highlights.

xo J

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Day 7 of the 2nd Annual Culinary Tour in Paris

Medici Fountain at the Luxembourg Gardens

Today’s highlight was a picnic lunch in the Luxembourg Gardens.

We started out this morning exploring the Marché des Enfants Rouges where we picked up some mini quiches, grapes, apricots, walnuts and cherry tomatoes. We found some sliced French ham, Mimolette cheese and bought some walnut Poîlane bread to sample and then made our way over to rue Mouffetard to gather a few more items for our al fresco lunch.

We discovered a lovely bakery and bought some crusty baguettes and apricot/peach tarts. At a cheese shop nearby, with a fantastic selection of goat and cow’s milk cheeses from around the country, we finally settled on a perfectly ripe Saint Marcellin. Some sparking water and a couple of chilled bottles of Champagne were secured as we made our way up the cobblestoned street.

We walked and talked our way past the Pantheon and entered the garden which was packed with people on this sunny Thursday afternoon. We made our way past the octagonal basin and the many statues and benches to the grassy area that was the perfect place to spread out our picnic blanket, pop the corks on our champagne bottles and set out our lunch.

The weather couldn’t have been more perfect. Sunny and warm but with a lovely breeze. We sat and ate and drank and talked for close to two hours. On our way out of the park we stopped in to view the always beautiful Medici Fountain. I love the calm serenity of this Paris landmark.

Tomorrow morning we will be cooking brunch together before we head off to explore Paris on bicycles in the mid afternoon. I can’t believe we only have three days left!

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Day 6 of the 2nd Annual Paris Culinary Tour

Crispy fishies Fish with roasted tomatoes and eggplant.  Jacques Genin caramels

Today we made our way around the city to visit some the better known chocolate and candy stores in Paris.

We spent a bit of time exploring the amazing food hall at the Galleries Lafayette where we were able to peruse the many confectionary counters offering treats from the best food brands of France. Fauchon, Jean-Paul Hévin, Dalloyau, and one of my personal favourites, Sadaharu Aoki. We checked out the array of demi-sel butters, the beautiful produce and selection of cheese, teas (Mariages Frères, Kusmi, Dammann), Christine Ferber preserves and even got a demonstration from one of the butchers on how to tie the traditional apron with only one strap attached.

From here we made our way down to rue du Faubourg Montmartre to visit the oldest candy shop in Paris. La Mère de Famille was founded in 1761 and still has much of the original shelving and the cashier’s box where we paid for our purchases. Bergamots de Nancy, fruit jellies, mendiants topped with fruit and nuts and caramels all made their way into our shopping bags.

Next stop was lunch at a modern french bistro in the Marais. We enjoyed a prix fixe menu that was fresh, seasonal and delicious. My lunch began with some crispy fishes on top of some greens with a dijon vinaigrette followed by a fillet a white fish with roasted tomatoes, eggplant and pesto. As the weather was warm and our guests were enjoying the cool shade of our table I ran out to nearby Jacques Genin to pick up some of the world famous caramels to sample with our espresso and baked apple dessert.

After lunch we parted ways to explore the Marais and beyond.

Tomorrow we are off to gather ingredients at Le Marché des Enfants Rouge and Rue Mouffetard to enjoy at a picnic at the Luxembourg Gardens. The weather promises to be perfect for our al fresco lunch.


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Day 4 and 5 of the 2nd Annual Culinary Tour in Paris

Marché Raspail Pomegranates  At the market
Fish on rue Martyrs Paris Local market
 French Breakfast rasidh photo copy 17 Homemade madeleines and figs with honey
Cheese and figs and honey  Apricots Radish tartines
 Baguette stop Endive salad  Evening stroll

We are officially midway through our tour and today was a free day for our guests to check out museums, wander the cobblestoned streets, window-shop and people-watch while enjoying a drink on one of the many terrasses of Paris.

Here are a few of the visual highlights of the last couple of days.

We have enjoyed perusing the markets and gathering ingredients and cooked a communal dinner last night at the apartment. Duck breasts with orange sauce, gratin dauphinoise and the most tender haricot vert beans. A salad of red endive with Roquefort cheese and a grainy mustard vinaigrette. Dessert was a chocolate tart that we picked up on Rue Lepic served with some fresh strawberries that we macerated in a red wine caramel sauce. Lots of good conversation and laughter was enjoyed around the table.

Tomorrow we are off to explore the sweet side of Paris. The divine caramels at Jacques Genin and a visit to one of the oldest candy stores in Paris, La Mere de la Famille will be followed by a lunch at one of our favourite bistros in the Marais. Stay tuned…

xo J

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Day 3 of the 2nd Annual Culinary Tour of Paris



We headed out early this morning to the Marché Raspail to explore the market and pick up some fresh ingredients for our afternoon cooking class.

We meandered along the market stalls selecting the best that was on offer. Beautiful heads of lettuce, French breakfast radishes, bunches of tarragon, parsley, and thyme, lemons, leeks, garlic and shallots. Some super ripe figs and chestnut honey to go with them. We couldn’t resist a few bunches of peonies and Lori, one our sweet guests, purchased a couple of bottles of farmer’s market organic rosé wine to enjoy with our lunch.

On our way back to the flat we scored a few “bien-cuit” traditionnel baguettes and a couple of kilos of mussels.

With our guests, we prepared a Sunday lunch, Paris style. We set up our cooking stations and were soon slicing and dicing our way to a delicious lunch.

Today’s menu included radishes with demi-sel butter and baguette served alongside some Bresse Blu cheese, olives and sliced ham.

First course was Alsatian tarts with bacon, Comté, onions with a mâche salad on top.

There were mussels in white wine and herbs with plenty of crusty baguette.

We then had our salad course with beautiful red leaf lettuce, a Dijon vinaigrette, shards of French cheese and toasted walnuts.

For dessert? Homemade lemon madeleines served on a wooden platter with fresh market figs drizzled with chestnut honey.

We talked and ate until almost five in the evening.

It was my ideal Sunday lunch in Paris.

xo J


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Day 2 of the 2nd Annual Culinary Tour in Paris

Bistrot Paul Bert Green beans and summer truffles White asparagus
Sole with a butter sauce photo copy 6  Espresso and a canalé

Day two in Paris! Our guests all enjoyed a long and well deserved rest last night and so were ready to tackle a day of eating, drinking and exploring some of the beautiful sights of Paris.

We travelled to the Bastille in the early afternoon to enjoy a typical bistro lunch at one of our favourite go-to places, Paul Bert. We enjoyed white asparagus, haricot vert salad with shaved summer truffles, sole with roasted potatoes, and roasted suckling pig. Not to mention the best coffee of the trip, so far, accompanied by a beautiful little canelé. The morning weather had been a bit rainy but by the time we emerged from the restaurant, well fed and very happy, the sun came out to greet us.

We made our way by metro down to the always stunning Place de la Concorde and did a walking tour that took us through the Jardin des Tuileries to the Louvre and then down along rue de Coquillière to make a brief detour into the incomparable cooking equipment store E. Dehillerin. From there, as the temperatures were approaching 30 degrees C, we ducked into the majestic St. Eustache church for some cool quiet time. This church is such a magical place with beautiful shafts of light, flickering candles and is the perfect place for some quiet contemplation.

Tomorrow we are off early to the organic market on Boulevard Raspail before heading back to our flat to tie on our aprons and cook Sunday lunch together. Mussels in white wine with herbs, Alsatian tarts and a green salad with a dijon vinaigrette and walnuts are all on the menu. For dessert we will be making some madeleines to go along with some tea we picked up at Marriage Frere.

It promises to be another delicious day.

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