Awaken to the Paris International Cooking School

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


6 Responses to “Awaken to the Paris International Cooking School”

  1. They’re about to do a cull of 4000 wild Dutch geese, Therese. They’re breeding far too prolifically here and becoming a problem. I’ll see if I can find a spare one and post it to you. Would you like a grey one or a Canadian one?

    Then when I’m back in Sydney I’ll look up the school in Stanmore. I didn’t know it was there, and we live very close by.

    • Dear Richard,
      Trust you to have too many geese. You’re just all too lucky Richard Tulloch! It is so lovely of you to think of us and I honestly don’t know the difference between a Canadian and a grey goose apart from the accent. I’m sure any type would be greatly appreciated by our little group with big ideas! You’re very sweet! Let me know if you’re dropping by- we may even feed you! Have a nice day and thankyou again! Theresex

  2. I went to a class at the school – all I can say is that the place is FILTHY! Note that all the reviews (other than yours) seem to be from 2005 and earlier. I think this place has really gone down hill. There seems to be years of dirt and spilled food on the floor and the walls. Cobwebs and other stains everywhere. The bathroom is… ugh… some serious money needs to be spent or time taken to clean this dump up. I certainly wont be going back. It’s a wonder the council hasn’t shut the place down and the health inspectors prosecuted Laurence.

    • Dear Tania,
      Thanks for reading my post and I think it’s important to have your say about the cooking school. I haven’t seen the bathroom in all my time there so I can’t comment. I guess I have been more focused on the food than the hygiene of the place I’m afraid! I come in very quickly loaded up with boxes of groceries in a mad rush from work that I scarcely have time to focus on the menu! Nevertheless, I’ll look at the place more closely and in the meantime, do us all a favour and contact the school with your concerns. Comments such as yours vitally important! Do let us know what eventuates. Best wishes, Therese

  3. […] Provincial menu using my French recipes from The Paris International Cooking School (you remember don’t you?) and my travels across France. There was leek and potato soup, blue cheese tart […]

  4. […] will indeed be even brighter than its rivalled past. Why? Well you may remember my experiences at The Paris International Cooking School which fostered my love of French cuisine after which, I decided to take the plunge and dissolve into […]

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