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"Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all." -Harriet Van Horne

For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to attend cooking school or at the very least cooking classes. When I was in the seventh grade, my mother started teaching cooking classes out of our Newport Beach kitchen. I fell in love with the whole process. First, when my mother would plan the menus, then her “students” (mostly rich Newport Beach women looking to impress their friends at dinner parties) would sign up, then my mother would buy all of the ingredients and prepare and my favorite part was when my mother actually taught the classes. Her enthusiasm was contagious (and funny because she has dyslexia and says everything backwards). Everyone loved my mother’s cooking classes. She taught her students how to make everything from Beef Wellington to Bûche de Noël (with my mother’s famous meringue mushrooms).

 

My mom (isn't she pretty?) and I at our Newport Beach kitchen. My mom is, of course, using her Quisinart. The Wolf range had a built-in wok which I loved.
 
Ever since then, I have been obsessed with cooking school. However, something always gets in my way of attending. In 1989, my senior year of high school at Marymount in Los Angeles, California, everyone was applying to colleges for the following year. I wanted to attend Le Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris. My parents refused to let go on the grounds that they were worried about “terrorism.” I swear to God that was their excuse. My high school bestie, Giada DeLaurentiis, had more rational parents and she attended Le Cordon Bleu and look at her now! #StillResentMyParents

Flash forward to 1994… I was accepted into the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in New York. I was over the moon happy until… I found out I was preggers with Gracie. #DreamSquashedAgain #GracieWorthIt

Ever since, I have appeased my culinary love with cookbooks, cooking shows, cooking magazines, cooking websites, restaurants, food blogs and I follow every culinary Instagram star I can find. Now that I am living in Provence, I decided I better educate myself with the indigenous cuisine. I am looking forward to learning how to make all of the local specialties…aioli, pissaladière, ratatouille, bouillabaisse, le boeuf en daube, tapenade… You know, the basics. But, I would like to take it a step further and learn some more intricate and lesser-known specialties of Provence. The real Provence. So, I thought it would be wise to sign up for some cooking classes.

As long as I can remember, I have always wanted to take cooking classes from Patricia Wells. Patricia Wells wrote a cookbook in the 1990s called Patricia Wells At Home in Provence and in 2004 wrote another cookbook called The Provence Cookbook. I have been smitten with her ever sense. Mme Wells has offered cooking classes from her 18th-century farmhouse in Provence since 1996. (She is the Queen of Provence cooking schools.) In total, Mme Wells has written 14 cookbooks, has cooking classes in Paris as well, has received numerous culinary awards and now has a brilliant app for all things culinary in Paris. For her whole bio click HERE.

 
 
 

So, seeing that I now live in Provence, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to fulfill one of my dreams… Attend a Patricia Wells cooking class. Not so fast… All of her classes are sold out through 2017! But I decided, this was my new goal. I’m going to live long enough with my ALS to be able to attend a Patricia Wells weeklong culinary class. #LifeGoal

 
 
 
 
 


And I think all of you should do the same. It never hurt anyone to plan ahead. Wouldn’t it be fun to plan a week in Provence at a cooking school with one of your girlfriends, your mother, your daughter/son or even your husband. My husband would be totally into this, surprisingly. Hold out for one of Patricia Wells classes because they are the best. You can sign up on her website HERE. Even though the cooking classes are sold out through 2017, you can be placed on a waiting list in case there are cancellations. I checked out one of the previous week’s schedules and it gave my heart a flutter. Take a look at a little sampling…

SUNDAY

'WELCOME TO CHANTEDUC' DINNER

Menu:

Champagne
“Inflorescence”
Blanc de Noirs
100% Pinot Noir
Cédric Bouchard
Importer : Polaner Selections

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
Chanteduc Black Olives with Rosemary
Dates Stuffed with Almonds and Fleur de Sel
Individual Goat Cheese and Onion Gratins

Yveline’sChilled Cucumber, Avocado, and Cilantro Soup
With Avocado Sorbet

Caponata

Slow-Cooked Lamb Shoulder
with Lemons, Olives, Cumin and Cilantro
Epeautre Risotto
Homemade Harissa

Chanteduc Salad: Arugula, Sorrel, Tarragon, Parsley, Oregano, Fennel Fronds, and Cilantro
Dressed with Lemon and Olive Oil Dressing

 



MONDAY 

Food Topics:
Knives; kitchen habits, pot sizes; kitchen organization and design; cutting vegetables;  sweating; mis en place; salt

Techniques and menu:

Chanteduc Olive and Caper Tapenade

Soupe au Pistou: Provençal Vegetable Soup with Fresh White Beans
With Light Basil Puree, Gruyère and Parmesan

Individual Cherry Clafoutis
Sheep’s Milk Yogurt and Honey Sorbet

Prepare:
Raspberry Panna Cotta for Tuesday dinner
Galette dough for Monday dinner

Wines:
Tavel Mordorée La Dame Rousse 2014
Grenache, Syrah, Clairette, Cinsault
Importer: Kysela Père et Fils

Lirac Blanc
La Reine de Bois Blanc 2014
Grenache Blanc, Viognier, Roussanne, Marsanne, Picpoul
Importer: Kysela Père et Fils


In the meantime while you are waiting for her cooking classes, you can purchase Mme Wells Provence cookbooks HERE. There is also a great glossary of French culinary terms on her website HERE. From A to Z, you can learn the difference between ail (garlic) with aile (a poultry wing), chevreau (young goat) with chevreuil (venison). #IamAGeek


*Something you don’t know about me? Usually, I wake up naturally at about 8 AM without an alarm clock but that has changed in the last 10 days since I have moved to Provence. I now have a new alarm clock. I receive a wake-up call at 8 AM from my neighbor in the form of a shotgun and 10 dogs barking. Yes, you heard me correctly… A shotgun. Apparently 8 AM is the prime time to shoot birds directly over my house. On Gracie’s first morning here, she ran into my room in a panic, ready to take cover, and said, “What was that noise?!!!” My response: “A shotgun, go back to bed.” Thank God I have read A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle, a manual to living in Provence, so my “shotgun alarm clock” came as no surprise. Welcome to Provence.

46 comments:

  1. That cooking class sounds amazing! Worth waiting for. Our French friends from Aix en Provence are fabulous cooks and their meals are a delight, served with the wine from their own bio vineyards located on the slopes of Mont Saint Victoire (stunningly beautiful - and they have a darling cabanon they've restored there). I learned to cook using Julia Child etc "Mastering the Art of French Cooking". Many of her recipes are just so easy, eg cherry clafoutis. I just make a couple of changes sometimes and soak the cherries in cherry brandy or a Russian berry liqueur first, adjusting the recommended liquid levels accordingly.

    Last June attended some classes at the Ecole d'Alain Ducasse in Paris. Great fun, well organised and fabulous food. Their different chefs/cooking teachers are brilliant and really nice men. Many years ago also went to some Cordon Bleu classes in England - it's where I learned yeast cooking and some pastry making. But they were hobby classes - not for professional cooks. We all even boned a duck each - under close supervision in class - it was superb as our Christmas dinner that year. Have never made it since - such a lot of work, and nervous without someone standing at my shoulder to tell me what I'm doing wrong!
    A few months ago Faux Fuchsia, Heidi from Adelaide Villa and Romy from Diary of a Hobart Housewife and I participated in a traditional Oz home baking class in Hobart. We had great fun but some of the others in the class were terribly hyped up and rushed about like headless chooks. It was tiring being near them. Also you'd locate what you needed and set it up in your place to prepare the next recipe, then discover something was lacking, like cinnamon for example. When I'd come back half the ingredients and equipment I'd carefully organised would have disappeared! But I was encouraged to try making something I'd never had the courage to do before - a sponge cake. My mother invariably made fabulous sponges, light and fluffy, but she'd always made it sound so difficult that I had the fear. Finally faced up to it under the cooking school's guidance and the Victoria sponge turned out perfectly. Three of us were so exhausted by our efforts we retired to the library fireplace with a glass of wine and couldn't be dragged back to the kitchen. After all, we'd all made the minimum of at least 3 things. Only Romy persevered and turned out sterling results.
    Cooking classes can be such fun, and give you the knowledge and confidence to try new things. It's a great way of settling into your neighbourhood too! We adore Provencal food. Hope you're lucky and don't have to wait too long though. Best wishes, Pammie

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    1. Headless chooks? What's a chook? I think I want to appropriate this word.

      I just wrote to Ellie that I think nice people gravitate to cooking classes, but I'm sure it's a mix. Like on a cruise. Or any random NYC event where strangers blurt their (and their genius kids') bona fides by way of introduction. Le sigh.

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    2. Chooks must be an Aussie word. Probably you'd call them hens or roosters (doesn't designate a particular sex I don't think). It's a great word - often used in jokes. Running around like a headless chook is a fairly common expression here in Oz.
      Yes, think cooking classes can vary. In this case not because of the trainers (every one has been excellent) - but because of the people who've enrolled. Maybe the format of the most recent one contributed though. There was a long list of things you could make - however, we were told at the start that we didn't have to make everything on the list. They recommended a minimum of three. But quite a few were keen to try and do them all - not quite sure why, whether to get their money's worth (the class was fairly expensive) or because they wanted to say they'd done the lot. There are always people like that, doesn't matter which country you come from. Anyway the ones who were more relaxed were the nicest. But there wasn't time for much conversation - not until we'd made at least three things.
      Other classes I've been to the people have been lovely - particularly the Alain Ducasse classes where they were mostly American - and the chef/trainer did a lot of the work with us helping through learning to prepare vegetables the French three star way, et al. It was terribly civilised. When the food was ready we sat around a fabulously set cleared bench with a great glass of wine and enjoyed the meal and chatted. Lovely! Pammie

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    3. A chook is a chicken :) Perhaps it's just Aussie slang? It's a common term Down Under!

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    4. Looked it up in my old Oxford - not in there. Then the Macqaurie, where chook is defined as a "domestic fowl", or "a silly person". In the old days the word chicken in Australia was not used for a live bird - it was the food, eg roast chicken. Even a dead bird was sometimes described as a chook, as in "a chook raffle" - common in pubs in the old days. Fathers sometimes came home latish on Friday nights with a placatory offering, saying they'd won it in a chook raffle. Probably the use of the word chicken for a live bird has crept into the language Down Under from American television. Pammie

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  2. Okay I think I should be embarrassed that I've never heard of her. But I have an Amazon order in progress that I'll just roll these books into.
    Your mom is so pretty and I would have loved to be in her classes. I love it when you post her recipes just as she's written them. Recipes need not be clinical. Have you read Ruth Reichl's new book yet? It is sooooo good. I was going to drive to Pittsburgh a few weeks ago and get us both a signed copy. But then my dog split a nail and I was in no emotional state to cross state lines. She's all better now. I may never recover.

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    1. I love Ellie's posts and I love your comments, Stephen! I feel like I'm eavesdropping in a cafe on two very fun people! (Hope that doesn't sound too creepy, this being the internet and all...hopefully it just shows that I have good taste! �� )

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    2. Me too!
      Cindy F

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    3. I finally got around to reading my Patricia Wells books this weekend and I am so in love. She really does have a unique point of view in her recipes. Thank you for introducing me to her!

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  3. I got Surviving Thanksgiving a couple of weeks ago. My favorite recipe? Grandma's Green Beans! That is an awesome recipe.

    Wishing you happy cooking.

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  4. What an excellent goal and something to REALLY look forward to....a cooking class with Patricia Wells!!
    Go Ellie!!

    xoxo
    Karena
    The Arts by Karena
    Artist Sandra Goroff

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  5. Your interest in the flavors of Provence, and desire to take a cooking class with Patricia Wells is so smart. Ever heard of Susan Herrmann Loomis? She was Wells' assistant once upon a time, and conducts cooking classes in Louviers (is that Normandy?); she hails from the Pacific NW and I once took a little 2-hour appetizer class with her in Portland. Bet Wells' and Loomis' cooking classes attract nice people worth knowing. (Eternal optimist.) xoxo

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  6. The word "chook" is Australian slang for chicken. The expression "headless chook " means running around in a panic. We have delightful expressions and I hope they don't die out. Deidre.

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    1. Hi, Deidre, fellow Ellie fan. Chook is now in my lexicon.

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  7. Your mother is so beautiful, and you are her spitting image! I hope you've already made a 2017 reservation with Patricia Wells for you and David. No more bare feet in Paris, you're home in Provence now. ;-)
    *During goose season here on the Chesapeake, the sound of shotguns and honking geese at daybreak is the norm, no alarm clock necessary.

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  8. I have loved Patricia Wells' and her cooking instructions and style ever since I saw her on Martha Stewart's show about 18(?) years ago. Enjoyed her on Ina Garten's Food Network show too (I think that she made buttermilk ice cream). Taking one of her cooking classes is surely something to look forward to! Your mom is so pretty; the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Hugs.

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    1. Do you believe in serendipity? I do. For example, I did not know of Patricia Wells until I read this post. (I now am enamoured and I love her hair style!) Back to my point, this morning I was reading about Julia Child's French house, La Pitchoune in Provence, being for sale. The kitchen is pretty much as she left it except for the stove. Guess who owns it? Patricia Wells! That little tidbit would have flown right over my head if not for learning about her yesterday. Thank you.

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    2. This is really fascinating! If I remember correctly it was built on land owned by her friend and colleague Simca and ultimately reverted back to her family, as they'd agreed at the start. Must google for possible pics.

      Ellie, so glad your daughter is with you in this dreadful time for the people of Paris. Our hearts and prayers are with them - and with you and all who have family and friends there. Pammie

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  9. Could you try the "Ralph Lauren Thanksgiving Meal" approach, pulling all the strings attached to great friends and get in next year perhaps. Just asking
    Bonnie

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  10. You have inspired a new bucket list goal pour moi!! Merci! Patricia Wells' cooking class in 2018 sounds like the perfect way to celebrate 65! It would be an absolute kick to be in a class with you.
    I applaud how you are embracing your new country life-have a great rest of your visit with your beloved Gracie!!

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  11. What great memories you have of your mother's cooking classes and your picture with her is just beautiful.
    I have always enjoyed cooking classes here in our town, but to participate in one with Patricia Wells in Provence would be a dream come true! I hope you have signed up - You never know when an opening might occur...
    Sounds like you are settling into the Provencal life, shotguns and all! Have a nice weekend!

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  12. Oh cooking classes with Patricia Wells sound sublime...your mom is quite gorgeous (as are you) and what an incredible cooker she had in her kitchen! Those classes will be a great goal...I took a cooking class in Paris at La Cuisine which was fun but I would love to take a longer more in depth class...and Provence sounds like the perfect spot!
    LOve hearing about your new life in the Provence countryside.

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  13. Attending Patricia Wells' cooking school has been on my bucket list for several years. Trying to decide between her classes in Provence or Paris. Provence is leading as I just read she has Julia Child's La Cornue stove in her Provence home!

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  14. You have another very good, although less marketed, choice for cooking classes in provence. Go to Petra Carter's website, Le Pistou, and check out her work. Just to get into her kitchen which is a stonework amazement should make your day.
    http://petracarter.com/

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  15. " Shot Gun Alarm Clock " Welcome to Provence ... You are just too much , so , so funny ! ily , A

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  16. Last things first. I'm glad you're getting an extra 5 hours of sleep (time between the 3 AM farmer's plow and the first gun shot;). Patricia Wells' website's is so enticing and the photos sublime. I'll definitely be reading her cookbooks and studying the French-English Glossary because #IamAGeek2.

    In your parents defense...1989 was one of the worst years on record for terrorism worldwide #ParentsKnowBest and Giada didn't go off to Le Cordon Bleu until much later, probably around the same time you were accepted to CIA #URaStar2

    p.s. Just heard about the multiple terrorist attacks in Paris tonight! :(:( Bon Courage!

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  17. Thinking of your daughter after these horrific attacks on Paris , and hope and pray she is safe.

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  18. HI ELLIE, AS I WRITE THIS, MY TV IS ON HERE IN MASSACHUSETTS, AND I AM WATCHING COVERAGE OF THE HORRIBLE SITUATION IN PARIS.THANK GOD, YOU'RE IN PROVENCE, HOPEFULLY WITH GRACIE AND DAVID. OUR THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS ARE WITH THE PEOPLE IN PARIS. ELLIE, WE HAVE A DAUGHTER YOUR AGE WHOM WE DID NOT ALLOW TO GO ON HER WEEK LONG SENIOR TRIP TO PARIS (SHE WENT A FEW YEARS LATER).IT WAS RIGHT AFTER FRANCE HAD BOMBED ALGERIA AND WE WERE AFRAID SHE'D BE CAUGHT UP IN A TERRORIST ATTACK JUST LIKE THIS. CALL YOUR MOM AND THANK HER FOR LOVING YOU. ROSEMARY

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  19. Please tell us, dear Ellie, that Grace is okay. Prayers are with you!

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  20. Ellie- I hope you and your family are safe tonight. My thoughts are with all those with Paris and France tonight. My heart aches to think of the lost lives tonight.

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  21. I hope that Gracie is safe with you in Provence right now and not in Paris! Scary stuff happening right now, as I'm sure you've already heard.

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  22. Everyone YOU know OKAY in PARIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Where was GRACIE?STill with YOU?
    GOOD GRIEF...............XO

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  23. I hope grace is safe in paris, thinking of all of paris

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  24. My thoughts have been for you and Gracie. So hope she is with you and safe. Prayers for Paris and for the world.

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  25. Dear Ellie, hope you are all safe. Thinking of you

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  26. I hope you and your family are safe in provance. Horrible stuff that has happened. In Paris. The killing of innocent people is atrocious. Stay safe .

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  27. Hope you and your family are safe in provance. The killing of innocent people is horrendous stuff.stay safe .

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  28. I also have been so worried since I saw the news last night. My first thought was that I was so thankful that you had moved out of the city and then I thought of Gracie. Have been praying for Gracie that she is safe. My prayers are for you, your family, the people of Paris and all of France. God Bless Paris and may the never have something like this happen ever again.

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  29. Hope you and your family are safe in provance . Acts of cowardice to hurt innocent people no matter where they live. Is never justified in any belief.

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  30. Please let us know that you are all okay!!!

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  31. I am so hoping Gracie was still with you in Provence, and everyone you know is safe. All of Paris is in my thoughts and prayers.

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  32. Hope Gracie and your family are okay.

    Sincerely,
    Debra from SENC

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  33. PLEASE TELL YOU NEIGHBOR THAT YOUR FRIEND FROM SANTA BARBARA HAS ACCESS TO THE "PETITION SITE"; AND IF HE DOES NOT STOP SHOOTING BIRDS NEXT DOOR TO YOU. HIS ASS IS GRASS!

    I WILL GATHER 20,000 SIGNATURES IN A WEEK OR TWO. HE WILL BE STOPPED! HE MUST BE STOPPED!

    JUST HAVE SOMEONE TELL HIM.....SOON.....SO I DON'T HAVE TO DO IT! I THINK DAVID IS THE PERSON TO SAY. YOU CAN REFER TO MY NAME. I HAVE GATHERED SOMETHING LIKE 2 MILLION SIGNATURES.....(THE POWER OF THE INTERNET!) HE REALLY WANTS TO STOP SHOOTING NOW. HE DOESN'T WANT TO HAVE TO DEAL WITH ME.

    HAVE DAVID GIVE IT A TRY! OTHERWISE.......HE WON'T EVEN BELIEVE WHAT WILL HAPPEN!!

    I LOVE YOU SO MUCH!!

    PENNY

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