Archive for June, 2011

Awaken to the Paris International Cooking School

Posted in Food and Recipes, French Affair with tags , , , , , , , on June 15, 2011 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour mes amis,

I love French food. My french awakening to French food occurred  a long time ago no doubt at home. My mother who is a wonderful cook undertook years of the French Cordon Bleu and International Cookery Courses. Even today, our conversations usually revolve around food at some point and with our passion for cooking, I felt in keeping with family traditon (although with limited skills) to enrol myself  into the Paris International Cookery School here in Sydney.

Prior to being located in Stanmore, Sydney, the Paris International Cooking School was established in 1988 in London.

Winner of the Inner West Best Restaurant and Specialised Small Business Award, let me begin by saying one word. FABULOUS. It’s just like being in Paris without the airfare!

You don’t have to be a Masterchef to find your groove here. Students are carefully instructed by the jovial French chef Laurent Villoing, head teacher and manager of the school.

Classes are intimate and our Tuesday night class, ‘French Provincial Cooking’ has only eight students. Two cooks (or would be cooks) per oven. Brilliant!

Week after week Laurant introduces us to new cuisine typical of each of the different regions of France. With an accompaniment of “oohs and arhhs”, his recipes are exciting and ever changing. They are rustic and provincial and true winter warmers for an Aussie winter.

Villoing enables the most amateur cook to become familiar with not only fabulous French cuisine but essential cooking techniques and of course French terminology. So far we’ve mastered some of these meanings and demonstrated how to for instance,-braiser, saute, brunir, brunoise, deglace and prick, as well as Julienne, macerer and sauter. From cleaving a duck’s spine from its carcass to making a delicate roux, it’s all been done with an element of joie de vivre while Laurant’s repartee is amusing.

Julia Child, author of ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking’ made famous in the ‘Julia and Julia’ film, would feel right at home here. Come to think of it, my great friend The’re’se and I (known to all and sundry as “Trees and Trays”) are getting pretty darn adept in the kitchen even if we do say so ourselves. Perhaps the next Julia and Julia twosome? Well, maybe now I’m getting carried away!

I look around the kitchen though and one thing’s for certain-there’s certainly a passion for French food here and we’re all rather pleased with our progress so far. Thought you might like some snaps of some of our French cooking results over the last seven weeks…

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Villoing’s sense of humour and forgiveness is always present. He makes certain that mistakes are not repeated- like the slight burning of ‘Pompes aux Pommes’ (apple pie) in the back corner and this week I spotted little labels on the temperature gauge (a small reminder not to brush one’s oven knob with any slight movement of the hips? ) I ask myself: Are the hips getting wider or are we rushing through the kitchen which such excitement and enthusiasm that our vision is truly focused on one thing only and that’s the next recipe?

Either way the thought of attending the Paris International Cooking School sends my french awakening into ecstasy! Like any good student at the front of the class, we do our homework. This includes hunting for our main ingredients for each week’s list of recipes and managing to trample back into the kitchen ladden with cardboard boxes filled with a treasure trove of uncommon  ingredients in an Aussie diet, like fennel, scallops, muscles, eschalottes, aubergines, duck and Dutch carrots.  (Did I mention camera?)

My only regret is that one single goose has been illusive to the entire class last night. No one could get their hands on one and our ‘Braised Goose Vendee Style’ became ‘Duck Vendree’! If anyone can help us out with a goose, our French cooking world would be complete.

Au Revoir,

Best Wishes, Therese

copyright@2011 Therese Waddell


Awaken to my La Vie En Rose Quilt

Posted in French Music, French Quilts, Therese Waddell's Quilts with tags , , , , on June 8, 2011 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour everyone,

‘La Vie en Rose’ is one of my favourite French films and the signature song of the legendary singer Edith Piaf, whose real name was Edith Giovanna Gassion. The film is the incredible journey of her life and rise to fame, told with great sensitivity by Marion Cotillard.

It was the first French film to win more than one Oscar award- one for Marion’s Make Up artists, responsible for transforming Cotillard into Piaf’s double with sheer brilliance, the other for Cotillard as the superb Best Actress. Edith Piaf”s spirit comes to life within Cotillard’s delicate skeleton and Edith’s dynamic voice is behind her impeccable lip synching.

I have always been inspired by Piaf. I feel her story needs to be heard.

She was born in Paris in 1915 but spent a sickly childhood in a brothel, having been abandoned by her parents- her father, a French circus acrobat who later disappeared into the French Army and a mother, an Italian singer.

As a little girl, Piaf fought many battles, one was temporary blindness but her singing talent was undeniable even then. She earned money by singing on the streets of Paris like a million others- afterall, this was Hemingway’s Paris! A time when artists and musicians were all desperately seeking fame. (Gertrude Stein used the name, “Lost Generation” to describe them at the time.)  It wasn’t long before the talented Piaf was discovered by a night club owner.

However, tragedy and popularity went hand in hand for Piaf. By 16 she had married and had a baby girl who died at two of meningitis which broke her heart.

Not long afterwards, her popularity escalated on the stage as she became the main attraction at Paris music halls, cabarets and radio stations before touring internationally with soaring fame. During this time, Edith Piaf showed such strength of character and remained fiercely passionate about her beloved country. She defiantly supported the work of Jewish musicians during the Paris occupation by Nazi Germany and she worked tirelessly for French prisoners of war.

Finally, the love of her life however was killed in a plane crash which proved too much for her to bear.Her spirit was finally crushed and she sought refuge in morphine and alcohol to which she finally fell addictive.

The French film, ‘La Vie En Rose,’ encapsulates the pure passion of this diminuitive French girl (standing only 4’8in) lovingly referred to as “the little sparrow.” She could belt out songs with such raw emotion and amazing talent that it comes to no surprise to discover that Edith Piaf has been named one of THE voices of the twentienth century. Just take a listen to the final scene of ‘La Vie en Rose’…

Her rise to stardom as a world class  performer from an origin so gloomy is captivating. She reminds us that anything in life is possible as long as you have the passion. My french awakening to Piaf inspired me to design a quilt in her honor and I hope she would approve in some small way.

My quilt pattern and color choice is bold and of course, in shades of pink! Why? Because using supremely bold floral fabrics and dazzling stripes in shades of pink and cherry red, serve to emphasise the translation of “La Vie En Rose” which means “To See Life In Pink.

Take a look…

I love her voice. I believe in the motto. Optimism rules.

If you would like to buy the quilt pattern go to

Au Revoir,

Best Wishes, Therese Waddell

copyright@ Therese Waddell 2011