Carolyne Kauser-AbbottFrench Cooking ClassesTaste

Bouillabaisse Discovery at Provence Gourmet Cooking Classes

Gilles Conchy says it was Provencal food and family ties that tugged him back to Provence after four years in California. Although, he admits that he could still be a “California boy.” The sandy, windswept beaches and seemingly endless sunny days of the southwest U.S. fit like a second skin to someone who grew up in Marseille. It is a place where the Mediterranean and cobalt sky compete in a daily beauty pageant.

Back on native soil, Gilles and his wife chose a modern house in the area that once inspired Paul Cezanne’s landscapes, with the trappings of Aix-en-Provence on their doorstep. Gilles admits that 12-acres of land requires a dedication to gardening activities to ensure that the natural environment does not take over. Every year they plant a large organic potager (vegetable garden) to take advantage of the long growing season.

Vegetables in Provence Cooking Classes #Provence #Gourmet @ProvenceCook

Ergology and ergonomics may not be the classic educational path for someone who is now sharing his passion for the region through his Provence Gourmet cooking school. Gilles’ love for Provence is clear. He spent a few years guiding visitors to must-see highlights, but it was sharing the local food traditions that called his name.

Provence Cooking Classes #Provence #Gourmet @ProvenceCook

Provence Gourmet was launched in March 2014. Gilles’ goal is to share the gastronomy of the region with visitors in a convivial environment. He does this through hands-on cooking classes for groups of 2-7 people. The day starts at 9:30 am with a tour of the market in Aix-en-Provence, and wraps-up by 4 pm (16h) when the participants have full bellies and big smiles.

Provence Cooking Classes #Provence #Gourmet @ProvenceCook

Through Provence Gourmet cooking classes, Gilles shares his childhood memories of two grandmothers’ kitchens. As a boy, Gilles waited quayside for his father and uncles to return to Marseille’s port with that day’s catch.

When he describes bouillabaisse, you enter the door of his grandmother’s kitchen where she created this fisherman’s soup from unsold fish scraps. You can read more about the humble beginnings of this now gourmet Provencal dish here.

Now mostly for children and tourists, the bi-annual transhumance (read more here) of herds of sheep and goats to higher/lower pastures continues to mark spring and autumn in Provence. However, away from the tourist centres, at the foothills of the French Alps in Sisteron, the seasons are truly marked by this pastoral activity. Not much has changed since the time when Gilles would drink-in the aromas of gigot d’agneau (leg of lamb) and potato gratin roasting in his paternal grandmother’s kitchen.

Provence Cooking Classes #Provence #Gourmet @ProvenceCook

To find out more about Gilles’ Provence Gourmet cooking classes check out his website here. Menus are based around seasonal ingredients and his desire to demystify bouillabaisse.

Image Credits: All photos were provided by and published with the permission of Provence Gourmet


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Carolyne Kauser-Abbott

With her camera and laptop close at hand, Carolyne has traded in her business suits for the world of freelance writing and blogging. Her first airplane ride at six months of age was her introduction to the exciting world of travel.

While in Provence, Carolyne can be found hiking with friends, riding the hills around the Alpilles or tackling Mont Ventoux. Her attachment to the region resonates in Perfectly Provence this digital magazine that she launched in 2014. This website is an opportunity to explore the best of the Mediterranean lifestyle (food & wine, places to stay, expat stories, books on the region, travel tips, real estate tips and more), through our contributors' articles.

Carolyne writes a food and travel blog Ginger and Nutmeg. Carolyne’s freelance articles can be found in Global Living Magazine, Avenue Magazine and City Palate (Published Travel Articles).

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