In late October, I traveled to Provence for the annual PTC tradeshow. It was a chance to meet with suppliers we’ve worked with for years as well as make connections with possible new partners throughout France. Afterwards, we took a whirlwind trip throughout France, and I was fortunate enough to stop in Cadenet, France to see Chef Reine Sammut and her stunning property. The best part of all? Along with about 10 other students, I took part in one of her cooking classes.
I’d heard so much about how Chef Reine is both a fabulous cook and teacher — both from clients as well as Reine’s husband Guy Sammut — and I discovered for myself that this is no exaggeration. She lit up the kitchen with her smile as she provided instruction on slicing up eggplants and tomatoes to make an eggplant crumble. She even made peeling grapes — which me and a few others worked on — a fun experience. Chef Reine deftly sliced away the grape’s exterior and showed us how to take out the seeds. The kitchen became a flurry of activity, and when we were done making the courses we’d enjoy at dinner, everyone left with a smile on their face.
But the fun with Chef Reine wasn’t over there. Our tour group dined in her bistro, where we enjoyed a fabulous meal consisting of eggplant crumble, fish over vegetables, and a dessert of a sabayon with fruit (where the grapes I peeled found their home). It was my favorite meal in Provence, from the tomato sauce that reminded me of my grandmother’s cooking to the creamy sabayon made with egg yolks and sugar.
After we finished up this delectable Mediterranean-inspired meal, Chef Reine’s husband took the stage with his band. They played a bunch of American cover songs, but it was clear Neil Young was Guy’ favorite. Chef Reine even took a break from the kitchen — where she was making meals for other guests — to dance with one of the guests.
Cooking with Reine was a wonderful experience, and the only disappointment was that I couldn’t stay longer.
I, for one, can’t wait to go back!
By Liz Hall
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