I was recently invited to a full day cooking class at Jean-Marc and Alice Villard’s cooking school in their home at Maubec. #Joblove !! haha. Maubec is located in the Luberon, about 45 minutes from Avignon an hour from Aix en Provence. The class was a wonderful way to spend a day learning about food, wine, and French culture.
I have been to many cooking classes for amateurs in Provence and they’re all quite different. Jean-Marc is a professionally trained chef which greatly enriches the experience. He, impressively, taught at the Paul Bocuse Institute in Lyon (gastronomic capital of France) as a Chef Instructor. He certainly knows his stuff!
His classes focus on traditional, though light, French cuisine. His techniques and combinations are based on his classic training as well as Provencal products and cuisine. He’s a strong supporter of local products, which is something you’ll learn about in his cooking class.
Did you know that the “gastronomic meal of the French” is on the list of the World Cultural Heritage of Unesco since 2010? What better than to learn about French cuisine on vacation in France? Jean-Marc has made teaching French cuisine to foreigners his passion. He explains more about some of the tenets of French cuisine on his website.
The Cooking Class
The day starts with a coffee and a rich shortbread biscuit the likes of which I’d only ever eaten in Michelin star restaurants. Then, Jean-Marc takes us to the local cooperative or the market, depending on which day you book your class, to showcase the amazing local produce that Provence has to offer. I was so impressed with the cooperative Naturellement Paysan in Coustellet that I wrote an article about it.
After shopping for your produce, you head back to Jean-Marc’s home where you prepare your meal. This is a hands-on class where you’ll be expected to chop, blanch, simmer, stir, knead (and whatever else!) yourself. It is, after all, the only way to learn. After a morning of collective cooking and tasting of (delicious) quality control, you sit down to a much anticipated 4-course meal. Chef Jean-Marc guides you through professional plating and don’t worry, you won’t be too stressed as the atmosphere is relaxed and fun.
The menus change daily according to local ingredients and Jean-Marc’s inspiration! You can contact him in advance for special requests or worries about allergies etc.
- Fig and cherry tomato amuse-bouche
- Roasted lamb with eggplant purée, roasted fresh garlic and potato nest with goat cheese
- Zucchini spaghetti with bell peppers and pastis finished with arugula pesto
- Shortbread biscuit with apricot jam flavoured with lavender and cantaloupe melon sorbet
See photos of Jean-Marc’s gorgeous cuisine on the Cooking Class Provence Facebook Page.
Check out their 5 Star reviews on Tripadvisor.