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Imagine my delight, when my French friends gifted me a cooking class in Paris. No less at the prestigious Ecole Ritz Escoffier, at the Ritz Hotel. With my gift certificate in hand, I searched online for which Ecole Ritz Escoffier cooking class appealed to me and settled on learning how to cook fish.
Note: There are a variety of pastry-making and cooking classes in Paris at the Ecole Ritz Escoffier. I chose a 4-hour cooking class. Book yours here. There are also multi-day classes and degree programs at the Ecole Ritz Escoffier.
Why Is The Cooking School Named Escoffier?
Auguste Escoffier (1846-1935), French chef and culinary writer, revolutionized the world of gastronomy at the turn of the century. He invented classic French cooking and some 5000 recipes including Peach Melba, Dauphine Potatoes, and Cherries Jubilee. Auguste Escoffier wrote Le Guide Culinaire textbook and created cooking techniques and methods still used today. He left a lasting legacy in the culinary world. What an honour to be at this cooking school in Paris named after such a brilliant chef.
I was in full nomad mode the day of my cooking class in Paris. I arrived early and stopped at Café Royal Vendôme for a croissant and coffee. It was the perfect place to observe Parisiens in their morning rituals and, the croissant melted in my mouth! I asked the grizzled French server where the croissants were from, “Fait-Maison, Madame” was the answer. Add Café Royal Vendôme to your itinerary.
I had previously called the Ritz Hotel knowing that I would be burdened with a suitcase and knapsack as I was leaving on a train directly after class. I was assured that I could leave my belongings at the check-in. When I arrived at the Ritz Hotel, I was met with nothing but class and professionalism.
“Bonjour Madame, You are cooking fish today,” and my belongings were put aside.
Waiting in the sumptuous corridor of the Ritz Hotel amidst its elegant lamps and velvet drapes set the scene for the day. Attendance was taken and we were led down the staircase to the kitchen of this Paris cooking class. Windows on the far side of the room looked straight into the professional kitchens of the Ritz Hotel where later in the morning there was a lot of activity!
Greeted warmly by our chef, we found a place around the table, introduced ourselves, donned our Escoffier Ritz aprons and immediately got started. This 4-hour cooking class in Paris did not waste a minute of time!
Cooking Class In Paris: The Menu
- filet of bar in a sage butter sauce
- butternut squash cooked in 2 ways
- scallops with a complex sauce
- foie gras
Pro French Menu Tip: Filet de Bar was the superstar of our menu. But what kind of fish is “bar?” Bar is European Sea Bass. On French menus, you will find the names Bar, Bar Sauvage, Bar Commun or Bar de Ligne. In the south of France, the same fish is called Loup or Loup de Mer. It is a very popular firm, white fish.
Cooking Class In Paris: All Hands On Deck
Once we started cooking, the kitchen filled with the incredible scent of sage, thyme and garlic. Soon butternut squash roasting in the ovens joined the olfactory party! My French classmates and I exchanged many smiles at the quantities of butter used!
Our chef kept the Paris cooking class professional, interesting, informative and extremely active. There was never a dull moment. Everything was timed to perfection.
We peeled and chopped, learned to filet a fish by watching and doing, stirred steaming pots, opened the shells of Coquilles Saint-Jacques (scallops), sauteed the European Sea Bass until it was crispy and perfect, reduced a veal-truffle sauce until it was golden and rich, and shaped potatoes into diamonds.
Ecole Ritz Escoffier: Tasting Our Menu
When all the pieces of our culinary adventure were ready we glanced behind us and the table had been set. We watched intently as the chef started plating all the elements we had cooked. He was an artist in full creative mode incorporating texture, balance, and colour (oh, that butternut squash and flower!). And then it was our turn!
All the courses were just that much more delectable as we had had a hand in making everything. We had toiled and learned so much in the kitchen, and seen all the pieces come together (with a little butter here and a lot of butter there!)
Practical Information: The Ritz Escoffier Cooking Class In Paris
- classes are taught in French but translated consecutively into English
- part of the hands-on cooking is done in pairs (my partners were all French)
- either dine in the kitchen or take home the creations prepared
- receive a Ritz Escoffier certificate of completion and a Ritz Escoffier apron
- a booklet with the recipes is provided
- plan in advance – classes are limited in size and book up quickly
After Your Cooking Class In Paris At The Ritz
Take your time in the Ritz Hotel. Wander the elegant hallways and stop by the Salon Proust for tea which is served from 2:00 to 6:00. Comfortable armchairs, the wood-lined walls, and the library make it the perfect place to relax.
The Hemingway Bar is a unique and fun place to have a cocktail, especially if you are a Papa Hemingway fan. The tiny bar opens at 6 pm. Arrive early as there is always a lineup.
Head to Paris Ritz Le Comptoir (36 rue Cambon) where Pastry Chef François Perret’s creations are a delight to savour. After his time in the United States, Perret invented elongated pain au chocolat, to be eaten on the run. My favourite pâtissseries here are his flavoured madeleines which hold a creamy or fruity surprise in the middle. They make the perfect gift and come in lovely boxes honouring chefs at the Ritz Hotel.
I hope you have the opportunity to book a cooking class in Paris at the Ecole Ritz Escoffier.
If the Ecole Ritz Escoffier doesn’t fit into your plans, here are some other suggestions for a cooking class in Paris: a 2-hour French pastry cooking class in Paris, French macarons with a Parisian chef, French pastry secrets with a Ferrandi chef, and a market visit and cooking class in Paris with a Parisian chef.
My taste buds are watering. I’m heading straight to the kitchen!
Until next time,
More Travel Info
Gastronomy In Paris
Enjoy your cooking class in Paris? Here are all my tips on gastronomy in Paris.
Here are some more food suggestions for Paris. Where to find the best croissant in Paris is essential reading! As is where to find the most delectable Pâtisseries in Paris. Have you tried all the classic pâtisseries, like the Paris Brest?
Are you a cheese lover? Have you tried these French cheeses? And here are seven of the best fromageries in Paris to find that perfect cheese, and have that, oh so fun, experience of standing amongst oodles of cheese. Here are the top tips for putting together a French cheese platter.
Café and Restaurant Suggestions:
There are also plenty of café suggestions for the Marais area in this post: Tips from a Local. Suggestions for restaurants in the Marais is a popular post along with the best places to eat in Canal Saint-Martin. If you are looking for traditional French cooking at affordable prices and in some outstanding dining rooms, why not try a Bouillon Restaurant?
Vegetarian/ vegan in Paris? Here are some great restaurants with excellent plant-based choices.
For a truly unique dining experience in Paris, reserve your table at the Ferrandi Cooking School.
If you are in Paris and gluten-free, luckily it is much easier to satisfy the taste buds than it was years ago. Here is my go-to on gluten-free delights.
DELICIOUS TIP: If you are here in January, don’t miss out on this very traditional pâtisserie that only makes an appearance once a year. Find out more here.
Exploring Paris and Beyond:
PARIS: Travelling to Paris alone? This article on navigating Paris alone is full of tips and tricks for the solo traveller. And this guide on the Paris arrondissements will help you plan the best trip ever!