Interview with Chef Laurent of Cooking in a French Chateau

November 16, 2020  |  By Liz SanFilippo Hall
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Travel down to the southwest of France, and you’ll discover the region of Bearn, otherwise known as musketeer country. In this beautiful part of Frane, Chef Laurent and his wife took up residence and turned what was once a chateau in ruins into a stunning, dreamy property with incredible views of the surrounding countryside. But that’s not the only reason The International Kitchen considers this trip a special one.

Chateau cooking in Southwest FranceDuring our Cooking in a French Chateau cooking vacation in southwest France, Chef Laurent not only wines and dines you at Michelin-rated restaurants, but you’ll also learn how to make classic French dishes with him though five cooking classes. Here he shares, in his own words, a bit about himself and this wonderful part of France.

What is your first memory of cooking?
My first memory of cooking dates back to when I was 7 years old, watching my grandmother make croquettes , a ragout of chicken with a breadcrumb crisp around it, to be deep-fried and enjoyed with a little mustard. I learned to love cooking by watching my grandmother and my mother. Since my father was a hunter, we ate a lot of pheasants, duck, partridge, hare and such, so quite young, I learned how to make canard a l´orange.

What is your favorite ingredient or food to cook with? What’s your favorite dish?
My favorite ingredients are thyme and garlic, the latter to be used with care. I love cooking scallops, as well as lamb, least favorite is Lotte. One of my favorite dishes is Beef Wellington.

Chef Laurent in the kitchenWhat is the best piece of advice you would give someone just starting to cook?
The best advice I can give somebody just starting to cook is to not be afraid to make mistakes, because in cooking, you learn especially from your mistakes, and how you can fix it afterwards. If you have done well the first time, you have no idea why, so it is almost better to fail your first time.

Do you have any funny or embarrassing stories to share?
Funny in our kitchen is my wife, sweeping the floor while we work so we sometimes slip when working, and also stopping the oven because there is nothing in there, but we were pre-heating. We call her the saboteuse.

A dish made during a cooking class in FranceWhy do you like teaching cooking classes?
I like teaching cooking classes, because it puts me on my toes again, and I enjoy sharing the love of cooking.

What’s unique about the food from your region?
The food from my region, because it is rural, is almost exclusively farm to market, so fresh, no large scale producers, and with an exceptional quality.

Anything else you’d like to share with clients of The International Kitchen?
I´d like to thank The International Kitchen for including us in their program and can only guarantee you won´t be sorry to come and stay with us!

Dinners at two 3-star Michelin restaurants, a trout farm visit, goat farm visit, and so much more is included in this special 5-night cooking vacation to Southwest France.

By Liz Hall

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