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French chef Alain Ducasse opens cooking school

Text by Nina BIDDLE LUNA

Latest update : 2009-05-12

French star chef Alain Ducasse (pictured) opened his own cooking school on Monday in the 16th arrondissement of Paris. The school aims to let amateur cooks reproduce at home what they learn in the classes.

Feel like a dunce in the kitchen? Don’t know your aubergines from your eggplants or your marrons from your moelle? Let one of the chefs at the Ecole de Cuisine Alain Ducasse in Paris teach you the difference while they lead you by the hand to the market and show you what is the best produce that day, before you return to the kitchen to cook it. “One of the important points about some of our courses is that you can honestly be completely useless in the kitchen,” says Emanuelle Perrier, director of public relations for the new cooking school, which opens on Monday, “and still come here and have a good time with us.”

Welcome encouragement to those who might be intimidated by the idea of a cooking class in Paris’s posh 16th arrondissement, headed by a famous French chef known - among other things - for being the first to have owned three three-star-ranking restaurants in three different countries simultaneously. But in his new 700 square-metre space Ducasse wants the atmosphere to be relaxed. “It’s a place to get together in for the pleasure of preparing and discovering food,” he told the AFP recently.

Ducasse is also catering to all different types of food-lovers. There are ten different courses, which run the gamut from “Traditional cuisine” to “Escapist cuisine, to “Gourmet cuisine” – with classes lasting half-a-day or a full day depending on the subject. There are two levels - experienced and inexperienced. The school’s first-ever course, “Fish and seafood” (experienced level), began today with an enrollment of ten French students, although there are also English-speaking chefs for English-only-speaking students.

There are several cooking schools in Paris but Ducasse’s new one offers quite a diversity of subjects, says Perrier. “We have everything from a class for six to 11-year-olds to a class on the gourmet cuisine of Alain Ducasse,” she says.

Not that their mission is to focus on the well-known chef’s style. “Many cooking schools just teach their own style,” adds Perrier. “We will do that but we will also teach other cuisines from other cultures.” The school also offers wine-appreciation and pastry-making classes.

Ducasse previously taught cooking in a smaller space in Paris’s 8th arrondissement, for which the waiting list was three to four months long. The new school hopes to have much shorter waiting times.

Of their new competition, the Ecole le Cordon Bleu, Paris’s oldest-cooking school and one more targeted towards professionals than amateurs, said they wished Ducasse luck. Sandra Messier, their marketing manager, said: “We are friends with our competitors.”

Date created : 2009-05-11