Provencal Flavours at Le Pistou Cookery School in Uzès
Navigating the streets of Uzès on a market day is not for the faint of heart, add some road construction to the mix, and it gets a bit spicier, but I was determined. On the agenda, was a hands-on cooking class at le Pistou Cookery School, and the promise of a delicious lunch.
Time Travel to Uzes
Petra Carter, the dynamic founder of le Pistou Cookery School, is a lady with an Irish lilt and a sparkle in her eyes. Her move the historical town of Uzès was far from a straight path to the South of France. Carter’s journey included time spent as a young child in the Netherlands, but it was her studies in Paris, in the 1970’s, that sparked her inner Francophile. A desire for adventure took her further afield to Tanzania in East Africa where she worked, as a cook, in safari camps. Eventually, she and her husband (a bush-pilot) moved back to Ireland where Carter returned to school and became a chef. Her culinary experiences stretch from Ireland to Narbonne where she ran cooking classes and art (she’s a painter) classes for a decade. Read more about Petra Carter and how she eventually settled in Uzès – Who am I?
The Cooking School
Le Pistou Cookery School is centrally located in Uzès, right next to the tourist office and steps away from the main boulevard. The one-time garage was wholly transformed into a bright, lofted space equipped explicitly for cooking classes. Carter explained that before the school opened four years ago, the walls were sandblasted, plumbing and electrical replaced and all the culinary equipment installed. The result is a large, open kitchen well-suited for cooking demonstrations and for class participants to join the action.
There are several options for classes at le Pistou Cookery School; most are single day workshops such as “Retro/Bistro French” and “Forever Summer.” There is also a 2-3-day intensive course where students dive into the magic of cooking with flavours. The theme for our class was the “Little Dishes of Provence” which included simple recipes suitable for lunch or the popular apéro dînatoire – cocktails with enough appetizers that you don’t need dinner.
We put on our aprons, washed our hands and got to work cutting vegetables for the tian estival (seasonal layered dish), whisking cream for the petites crémes renversées, and stuffing courgette (zucchini) flowers with Corsican goat cheese. The class began at 9:30 am and moved along at a good pace, we had nine dishes to prepare before lunch.
While we watched and worked, Carter explained the how the traditional ingredients from Provence and the South of France have changed with transport networks and grocery stores. She shared some of her favourite ingredients, including butter that she takes back to Ireland! Although lunch was in the offing, we sampled tasty bites from the fridge that were not on the menu including homemade salmon gravlax and salt-cured duck breast.
The fabulous thing about cooking workshops is your culinary experience level doesn’t matter, and everyone will enjoy the result. When we sat down to lunch around the table at le Pistou, it was close to 1 pm, after a morning of laughs and culinary discoveries. No one left with an empty tummy or empty-handed, there were some parting gifts, address exchanges and a list of recipes to be replicated in other parts of the world.
Book a Cooking Class
Le Pistou Cookery School (website)
1 Rue Xavier Sigalon
Tel: +33 (0)7 77 23 41 57
Accommodation recommendations available upon request
Food, Wine and Culture Tours
Lovely Michelle is a Francophile with an Australian accent, during the le Pistou cooking classes works beside Petra Carter, anticipating her every move. If that is any indication of how she runs Terroirs Tours, then clients are in for a treat.
Terroir Tours (website)
Based in Uzès these tours are a great way to explore the region with a local
The small-group, private tours that can be customised
Tours are available in English, French and German
Tel: +33 (0)6 02 18 49 33