Sunday 14 December 2014

Happy cooking in Provence with René Bérard

La Bastide des Saveurs

I could not wipe the smile off my face for the first two hours of my cooking class with Michelin starred chef René Bérard in his beautiful domain in the Var region of Provence, la "Bastide des Saveurs".  This first class chef is in the business of transmitting the real Provence experience with utmost authenticity … and, like the other 5 novice students participating that day, I was under his spell.

Mr Bérard giving me a few useful tips

My equally as entranced colleague Linda enjoyed capturing the details of Mr. Bérard’s rustic kitchen décor, from its jarred herbs and spices to its copper pans and Provençal tiles... not to mention Mr. Bérard's very attentive little spaniel named Gribouille.

Mr. Bérard organizes his classes by theme and our session was focused on dessert. More than six different desserts were concocted by our group of 5 novice students, from lemon meringue pie to crème patissière, chocolate moelleux cakes and caramelized apples. Learning (just a few of) the tricks of Mr. Bérard’s trade was fascinating. And as if weren’t enough to be swept off our feet by Mr. Bérard’s jovial nature and continual joke-telling, the moment of ultimate enjoyment came when we wrapped up our fourth hour of cooking and walked outside to the most quintessentially Provençal table setting my imagination could have depicted. 

Giving classes in La Cadière d’Azur, this charming small town of 5,000 inhabitants, is a feat Mr. Bérard particularly takes to heart as this is where he was born and raised. Having celebrated his 70th birthday not too long ago, Mr. Bérard ensured the transmission of talent and family cooking secrets, via his son Jean-François who now runs a nearby restaurant also owned by the family.

Myself, René Bérard and Linda Ouarghi 

Many thanks to Stéphane Zanarelli for organising this opportunity for Linda and myself.
If a cooking class with René Bérard interests you, don't hesitate to contact us using the link on the right.

About the author:

Laura Gillespie is a Unique Provence travel consultant specialized in luxury events in Provence, as well as in the creation and realisation of unique travel itineraries and programs. Laura is American and has been based in Provence for nearly 20 years. 

Below are more photos of our day ©Linda Ouaghi