Easy French Food and Recipes

Patricia Wells - Cooking Classes

Patricia Wells is a well known cookbook author and authority on French food, but most importantly she has a love of good food and a passion for sharing it with others. She offers cooking classes both in Paris and in Provence. Learn more here.

Where do the classes take place?

In Paris, the classes are held in Patricia's cooking studio on the Rue Jacob in the St. Germain quarter, near Left Bank landmarks, like the Café Deux Magots. Patricia restored the space, once an artist's atelier that now serves another kind of art, to include a beautiful country kitchen and dining room that includes very lovely personal touches. For instance, she had a china cabinet constructed using the heavy glass doors from a 19th century café.

In Provence, the classes take place in Patricia and Walter's farmhouse at Vaison-la-Romaine. It's a classic Provençal mas surrounded by vineyard and olive groves. The vineyard produces the Wells's wine, Clos Chanteduc, which students sample several times during the week long classes.) The house, more than two centuries old and built around a central courtyard, has been lovingly restored with deep respect for its origins and Provençal tradition. It includes a large country kitchen and two adjacent kitchen spaces - one of which features Julia Child's La Cornue stove. Julia gave the stove to Patricia when she closed up her house near Grasse a few years before she died.

Who teaches the classes?

Patricia Wells is the only teacher. Walter assists as an enthusiastic sous-chef. (All classes are fully hands-on.) Patricia, now completing work on her 12th book ("Salad as a Meal," to be published in 2011 by HarperCollins) is a widely known authority on French food and restaurants. She still writes occasionally for the International Herald Tribune, where she was the restaurant critic for more than 20 years. She is also the only foreigner and the only woman to have written a regular restaurant column for any major French publication, l'Express.

Walter retired in 2005 as executive editor of the International Herald Tribune after 25 years there and most of a decade at the New York Times. He still writes regularly on French politics but his interest in food goes back to his childhood on a farm in South Carolina, where his grandmother won county fair bue ribbons for her wild honey.

Occasionally visiting experts join the group for a demonstration and a meal, especially for a wine tasting in Paris or experts in other culinary fields.

What cuisine and cooking techniques are emphasized in the classes?

French food, of course, with an emphasis on Mediterranean flavors and the importance of choosing the freshest and best ingredients. Basic techniques are demonstrated, but the core of the hands-on instruction is developing simple and elegant flavors. Patricia's basic philosophy - evident in all of her cookbooks - is that good food begins with good ingredients and not with elaborate preparations.

When do classes take place?

There are only weekly classes - no single day or half day classes in either Paris or Provence. In Paris the class begins on Monday morning at 10/30. In Provence, participants are guests on Sunday night for champagne and dinner prepared by Patricia.

You can consult class availability and learn more about Patricia Wells at her official website At Home With Patricia Wells.

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