French Cooking ClassesKeith Van SickleTaste

Cooking Class in Provence with Jane Satow

Jane Satow is an American who has lived in France for 20 years. She has built a sterling reputation as a private chef (TV personality Stephen Colbert is a client) and runs cooking classes for small groups. These classes are held in a charming old building in the center of St-Rémy, which she and her partner refurbished, adding a professional kitchen.

Shopping in the Market

My wife and I recently joined one of Jane’s cooking classes; it was a real treat. It started with her leading us through St-Rémy’s outdoor market to buy fresh ingredients for our meal. Six other clients joined us as she took us from one stand to another while chatting with the vendors, all of whom she had known for years.

St Remy Market Cooking Class

We got fruits and vegetables, cheeses, olives, and more while Jane explained what we were buying and why (“this tomato is perfect for what we’re making, while that one isn’t quite ready”). She encouraged us to taste as we went along—part of the fun of a French market.

Then we walked over to her kitchen for the cooking part, followed by the eating part. I’m unsure which was the best, as they were both fantastic.

A Fun Group

Our fellow participants made for quite an international group. We had a couple from Germany, a honeymooning American couple on their first trip to France, and a Swiss/American couple living in Barcelona. Everyone was relaxed and open, and we enjoyed sharing stories, travel ideas, and life experiences.

Cooking Class Val Van Sickle

Let’s Cook!

Jane explained the day’s menu and put us to work shelling peas, cutting this and that, and mixing ingredients. She explained the recipes as she went along, noting that they are all on her website so we can easily reference them later. She also explained the technique—the right way to cut this, how to adjust the temperature on that, and when to add this ingredient to a particular mixture.

Provencal rack of lamb

©Jane Satow

Sometimes, she demonstrated, as when she and her assistant Virginie made aïoli, Provence’s famous garlicky mayonnaise. First, egg yolk and minced garlic were put in a bowl. Then Jane slowly added oil as Virginie whisked away with gusto (“aïoli is a team sport,” Jane explained.)

Cooking Classes in Provence Making Vinigrette

Let’s Eat!

After much prep and explanation, it was apéro time for our now-hungry crew. We sat on Jane’s sunny terrace and enjoyed excellent little bites from the market: crusty bread, radishes with salted butter, several types of olives, pickled garlic (actually quite tasty), salami, rich homemade fish brandade, artichoke spread… and of course rosé wine.

Apero cocktail spread Provence

While we enjoyed these treats and each other’s company, Jane and Virginie busily cleaned up the kitchen, set a lovely table, and called us in to eat when all the dishes had finished cooking.

Our first course was parboiled asparagus and spring peas with a mousseline sauce. The sauce was made of whipped egg whites with aïoli and lemon juice folded in. The lemon and garlic in the mayonnaise, combined with the lightness of the sauce thanks to the egg whites, made the vegetables an elegant first course.

Cooking Class in Provence Starter Course

Our next course was a rack of lamb, green beans, and almonds. We also roasted tomatoes with steamed baby fennel and caramelized shallots to create a vegetable stew. Val appreciated each dish’s easy but flavourful preparation and Jane’s organization, so they all came together quickly.

Cooking Class in Provence Main Course

A tasty, easy-to-prepare cheese course followed this. It featured fresh local goat cheese, sheep cheese from the Pyrenees, and a special gorgonzola that Jane had picked up on a recent trip to Italy.

Cooking Class Dessert

The dessert was a fresh fruit tart. The base was an easy pastry pressed into a tart pan (no rolling required), chilled a little and baked. Jane made a lemon cream topping from egg yolks, sugar, egg whites, and lemon zest. This was spooned onto the crust, and the fresh strawberries and raspberries were placed on top. It was easy to prepare and could be done in advance.

The day went by quickly, and before we knew it, we were finished and satisfied, exchanging email addresses and looking forward to using the cooking tips and recipes we had learned.

Contact Information

You can find information on her website to learn more about cooking with Jane Satow or to have her cook for your next dinner party.

Try Jane’s Dinner Menu

Insider’s Guide to St Remy de Provence

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Keith Van Sickle

Keith Van Sickle

Keith and Val Van Sickle made their first trip to Provence decades ago, and it was love at first sight. After that, they came back every year until 2008, when they began a part-time life there, splitting their time between Provence and California.

Over the years, they’ve travelled all over Provence, seeing sights both well-known and obscure. Their French friends have introduced them to favourite restaurants and wineries and picnic spots and taught them funny local expressions (not all for polite company).

Keith now shares this local knowledge in his new book, An Insider’s Guide to Provence. Packed with the Van Sickles’ favourite things to see and do, it’s a must-have for anyone travelling to this glorious corner of France.

Keith previously published two books about the couple's experiences in Provence. One Sip at a Time: Learning to Live in Provence, and Are We French Yet?, both are available from Amazon.

You can see all of Keith’s blog posts at Life in Provence.

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