November 16, 2020
Today we're featuring an interview not with one of our fabulous chefs or tour guides, but with Theresa VanderMeer, the founder of the company that…Read This Post
Our chefs, and their passion for cooking, are the heart of all of our cooking vacations. In this series of interview 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.
Marigny-le-Cahouet may be a sleepy French village in Burgundy, but Chef Katherine, of “Colors of Burgundy,” is a lively chef who loves to share her passion for French cooking and food during our cooking vacations in Burgundy.
When did you first start cooking?
First started cooking with my Grandmother when I was in Kindergarten. She used to bake all the time, I just loved the smell of freshly baked cakes and bread. We used to have afternoon tea and I can still hear the sound of the tea trolley she used to wheel into the salon! I have her beautiful silver cake forks which I now use and the hand embroidered tea cosy she made for the china teapot!
What’s your first cooking memory?
My own experience officially was the first cooking lesson at school, making a quiche Lorraine and Victoria sponge. I still make them although of course now I’ve tweaked the recipes a bit. I add herbs to my crust and smear mustard or pesto onto the base on the crust before tipping in the filling. With the Victoria sponge I add grated lemon to the mix and always use free range eggs from my neighbor which makes the cakes a vivid yellow. I still use real butter for the crusts and cakes too!
Where (and from who) did you learn about cooking?
My Grandmother as I mentioned before, then I had some really good teachers at school, after that it was more curiosity than anything else, sparked by the way we were taught but also we didn’t have supermarkets when I was younger! I know that makes me sound really old! My Mother started to go to Safeways. She bought yogurt and frozen food. We never had that before.
We did have a row of local stores that sold fresh produce, we still had a baker, a butcher, vegetable store, which I loved as they were full of color, and had amazing window displays.
What’s your favorite ingredient or food to cook with? Favorite dish to make?
My favorite ingredient/s are my spices that I blend myself and all my vegetables that I grow in the garden. Picking a dish is really tricky as my recipes are pretty eclectic with ideas from all over the world. I love home comfort Winter stews but also love the taste of home smoked fresh salmon with a simple salad sprinkled with flowers and a light lemon dressing.
What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to someone just starting to cook?
Best advice I ever was given when I was at cooking school – It’s all in the planning! I learned how to plan my menus to be balanced, I planned the shopping list and made a time plan. It was the best piece of advice ever and I still use it today whether I am teaching or creating a wedding for hundreds of guests.
What do you hope people gain from your cooking vacations and cooking classes?
When guests spend a week with me I hope that people gain the confidence to trust their own judgement whether it be with their cooking time for a piece of rare beef, a soufflé or choosing ingredients that work well together.
Some guests would never dream of cooking a dish if they didn’t have all the ingredients. It would never occur to them to use a different herb or flavor.
France is a great example of how the community supports local artisans and suppliers. They use seasonal produce and most of them cook. Sitting and enjoying a fresh seasonal meal with family and friends is still really important to them.
I believe, and this is what I hope they take away from my cooking vacations, that this way of thinking can be applied to wherever you live and however you live your life; even in a city there will be local producers and farmers markets.
Anything else you’d like to share with clients of The International Kitchen? Are there any other questions you’d like to answer?
What’s great about the clients from The International Kitchen is that they are already enthusiastic foodies, they’re fun, attentive, and eager to learn.
Sometimes people just need the encouragement to change and tweak recipes, and I think they all learn one thing that most of them worry about when cooking for friends and family – if something goes wrong in the kitchen just before they arrive ‘don’t panic’; the only person that knows what you are trying to create is you! Plan well, do a trial run before if you’re that worried, and enjoy your guests after all they’re there to see you as well as enjoy your fantastic cooking.
* * *
During Chef Katherine’s 6-night Colors of Burgundy cooking vacation, learn the secrets of classic French dishes during four hands-on cookery classes, and explore the beautiful area of Burgundy, including Flavigny, where the film Chocolat was filmed.
Learn more about all of our foodie trips.
Sign up to receive our newsletter, which includes travel tips, recipes, promotions, and information on our best culinary vacations and cooking classes.