Provence not only offers exceptional cuisine but many of those chefs are so passionate about the local produce they work with that they offer cooking classes. I tried and tasted my way through many classes and here is a selection of some of my favorites:
La Petite Maison de Cucuron.
Michelin star chef Eric Sapet offers a journey into Provencal cooking with each of his classes. Eric personally selects each product he works and he has found the best local purveyors. There is a good chance that one of them will drop in to make a delivery while you are there and you’ll find out more about how the produce is grown and harvested. Local purveyors will explain the patience and perseverance needed to produce the best of the best.
Eric lets everyone take part so it isn’t just a cooking demonstration. He is jovial and generous. He will join you for the meal you and your class mates have just prepared either on the terrace shaded by ancient plane trees that overlooks the basin in the heart of the town square or inside the wood paneled dining room with terracotta tile flooring and authentic Provençal furniture during the fall and winter months. Classes are available on Saturday mornings only. As have probably already guessed, the classes offered are in keeping with the seasons. So this fall expect to see mushrooms, game and root vegetables.
Eric started his career at La Tour d’Argent in Paris before returning south to Les Herbes Blanches and then the Moulin de Lourmarin. In 2007 he purchased La Petite Maison where he was awarded a Michelin star two years later.
Le Miramar - Bouillabaisse
If you want to find out what is behind Marseille’s signature dish this is your chance to do so hands on. Michelin star chef Christian Buffa hosts a Bouillabaisse – derived from the words bouillir to boil and baisser to reduce – on the 3rd Thursday of every month. Originally, fisherman prepared the meal for themselves using their unsold fish. Today it is one of the delicacies of the region.
The class begins with a walk-through of the daily fish market to familiarize yourselves with local species used in the making of Bouillabaisse including the tiny rock fish that are cooked whole for the broth. You will chop, peel, stir and sift along with your group of 5 to 8 participants before sitting down to the meal.