A day at the famous La Mirande Cooking school in Avignon, with Michel Meissonnier! Where to begin? The hotel has to be one of the most beautiful hotels I have ever seen – they had me upon arrival when I spotted the ancient black and white checkered floor. We first had a typical French breakfast as we waited for all the other pupils (who all only spoke French). Delicious croissants, orange juice and horrible café creme – they just don’t do a nice cup of coffee in France. That’s unfair – they do – you just need to look very hard for it 😉
Michel arrived and we were all quickly introduced. Luckily his assistant for the day spoke English so maybe 20% of what he said was translated into English for us – but I suppose that is what made it so cool. The translations were accompanied by some entertaining sign language and a lot of laughter – hopefully not directed at us. And what a chef he was – I thought all Michelin star chefs would be scary, but not Michel – he was positively hilarious – charismatic and cool. Maybe it’s because he has retired to enjoy the rest of his life instead of slaving away in a kitchen just to keep the bloody stars.
We were taken down a dark staircase to what looked like the dungeons – but instead we found a gorgeous, massive table with all our ingredients for the day. Wow – what a kitchen! Think Downton Abbey. With a wood-burning oven et al.
We were asked to start peeling, cleaning and slicing all the veggies for the day. Luckily I didn’t get the onions otherwise they would have seen what a novice I am! And they would have laughed at me wearing sunglasses – which is the only way I can chop onions.
I’ll need hours to tell you all the details, but in a nutshell, Michel basically showed us how to cook all the parts of a lamb (including the tongue and kidneys), as well as a yummy starter veg broth and red fruits soufflé for dessert.
At the end we all sat around a 12-seater table to eat our lunch which we all participated in making – what an absolute treat. And yes – they all spoke in French while we went through an entire three-course mea – pas de problème!