Interview: Chef Berard on his Provence Cooking Vacation

December 14, 2020  |  By Peg Kern
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Our chefs, and their passion for cooking, are the heart of all of our vacations. In this series of blog posts, hear the chefs in their own words as they talk about their background, their love of food, and what they hope you gain from your next culinary vacation.

Chef Rene Berard’s passion for cooking shines through when he talks about our Provence cooking vacation, “A Cooking Passport to Provence,” which we offered with Chef Berard until his retiremen. In this exclusive interview, he talks about his love of fresh ingredients, living in Provence, and his memories of cooking and family.

When did you first start cooking? What’s your first cooking memory?
I started inventing and creating dishes in my home town of La Cadière d’Azur in Provence, but I’ve always been especially interested in introducing people to the area’s many natural riches. I was lucky enough to help my grandma prepare lots of Provencal dishes – that’s my best cooking memory.

Where (and from who) did you learn about cooking?
At the Jean Ferrandi school in Paris, then with Roger Vergé at the Moulin de Mougins, Gaston Lenôtre in Plaisir near Paris, Jean Bardet in Tours, etc.

What’s your favorite ingredient or food to cook with? Favorite dish to make?
There is one Provencal ingredient I particularly adore: TOMATOES (or “love apples” in Provencal dialect!) And the simple dish I love making most for family and friends is Noisettes of Sisteron Lamb in a Pistachio Crust, with Confit Tomatoes and a Wild Thyme Gravy…

What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to someone just starting to cook?
First and foremost “Be passionate!” You need to be audacious and very motivated, persevering and very demanding. You need to be willing to make a lot of effort and continuously seek perfection!

What do you hope people gain from your cooking vacation/classes?
That people stay themselves, relax and enjoy sharing a wonderful, warm taste of our Provencal lifestyle.

Anything else you’d like to share with clients of The International Kitchen? Are there any other questions you’d like to answer? 
I’ve been welcoming The International Kitchen clients for a long time. This Tour Operator concept is great for food fans and the people who come here are all impassioned cooks who love Provence and its traditions. I have a lot of affection for them.

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Although Chef Berard retired, we offer many wonderful cooking vacations in France. Contact us to book or for details!

By Peg Kern

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