L’Atelier des Chefs is a big institution in France, and when they approached Franglaise Cooking to offer us a cooking class in exchange for an honest review, I thought it would be a great opportunity to get some good tips from a professionally trained chef! Apparently our blog had been highly recommended to them which is always good to hear 🙂
My (French) mum couldn’t believe that after only a few months into this blog we were already getting contacted by companies like this. To explain her amazement let me quickly introduce you to L’Atelier des Chefs.
L’Atelier des Chefs is a cooking school which first started in France and now boasts 17 ateliers (workshops) there. Everyone who is even slightly interested in cooking in France knows exactly who they are. They have now opened their doors in the UK with two venues in central London: the one in Oxford Circus opened 5 years ago and the one in St Paul’s opened 2 years ago. They have also opened an Atelier in Dubai.
L’Atelier des Chefs runs hundreds of classes a month ranging from 30 minutes to 4 hours and starting at £15. The classes are all run by professional chefs who teach you how to make a dish/dishes from start to finish, and share all their cooking tips with you. They welcome all abilities from novices, looking to learn the basics, to accomplished cooks.
Once you have cooked your dish(es) you can sit down at their dining table and enjoy your meal with a drink. The classes cover a wide range of world cuisines and skills such as Thai, Moroccan, Spanish, Japanese, French, Italian, bread-making, pastry, and much more.
L’Atelier des Chefs has decided to run various events throughout July to celebrate the French National Holiday – Bastille Day – on the 14th July. To coincide with this they have a special promotion throughout July of a 10% discount on all French cooking classes.
For my lesson I had a choice between cooking a complete French meal or making several different macarons. To be honest I generally prefer the “rough” version of the macaroons. You can find my addictive macarons version with hazelnut here. I find the flashy, fancy and colourful macaroons too subtle and sophisticated for me 🙂
I attended the French cooking class at Oxford Circus (19 Wigmore Street London W1U 1PH).
The Atelier near Oxford Circus has two big kitchens for the classes, along with several other rooms where they can host events for a maximum of 150 people, like team building activities focusing on food and cooking. There is also a shop inside where you can buy a wide variety of pro and semi-pro cooking equipment, ranging from silicone utensils to knives, Le Creuset pans, tins, moulds, etc.
The cooking classes cater for anything from one-on-one sessions to groups of 20-30 people. In the session I went to there were just two of us – me and another lady, as someone else cancelled at the very last minute. Despite the small class size there was still a big mix, with a wide variety of cooking cultures and origins to discuss while we were cooking – I’m French (but more or less half French and half English now), the woman taking the class with me was English but lives in Switzerland and has Spanish origins whilst the chef was a Kiwi!
During the 2 hour class we prepared the following:
- Crème brûlée
- Rum and raisin madeleines
- Roasted fillet of halibut with samphire, shellfish velouté and chanterelle mushrooms
- Crisp confit duck leg with salade paysanne and fried quails’ egg
The chanterelle mushrooms with the fish had to be replaced by some girolles (luckily I love them both!) as it’s still a bit early in the season to get them (autumn is better).
Out of all these dishes the only one I had never touched before was the samphire (a kind of seaweed) and which I really liked, but you have to be careful that they are not too salty. Basically they can be handled more or less like green beans I think.
What I enjoyed the most
- The numerous good tips from the chef like: how to check when the crème brûlée is properly cooked or how to avoid froth, how to best cook fish fillets, how to trim the samphire, etc.
- Preparing and eating the samphire as it was completely new to me
- The discussions amongst the three of us, with our very different backgrounds around techniques, food sourcing, food cultures, etc.
L’Atelier des Chefs – Pros
- In the space of just 2 hours we covered a LOT of techniques like slicing, chopping, dicing, sweating, reducing, cooking au bain marie, washing and keeping mussels fresh, cooking fish fillets, preparing a vinaigrette, caramelising a dessert with a blow torch, zesting an orange and cleanly breaking quails’ eggs.
- Very knowledgeable, passionate and friendly chef
- The dishes were good, delicate, very classic with really fresh and quality ingredients
- Excellent equipment and kitchen environment
- Possibility to eat your creation on the premises or at home with a doggy bag
- Wide range of cooking classes in terms of skills, levels, types of food, lesson duration, available dates, prices etc
- Detailed recipes are emailed after the class so there’s no need to concentrate on taking notes whilst there
- It would make a great present for someone who is passionate about cooking
L’Atelier des Chefs – Cons
- The website is pretty slow and several recipes on the site don’t have any photos
- There are only two ateliers in the UK so far, and both are in London, so a bit limiting for those further afield
- It is “chefy” food so it will take you a long time (more than two hours) and quite a big budget (probably around £20 per person for class I did) to replicate at home what you learn in the class
Have you heard of L’Atelier des Chefs before? Is this something you have already tried out? Can you recommend other good cooking classes?
Disclosure: Franglaise Cooking was offered this cooking class in exchange for this honest review. As ever all words and opinions are our own.