Food + Wine

Global Culinary School

by Robin Cherry

Cooking with Friends in France

Where: Châteauneuf, a 35-minute drive from Nice

The food: Provençal classics à la Julia Child

Back home you'll be whipping up: Daube, a Provençal beef stew; lavender crème brûlée

The dish: Channel your inner (Julia) Child at Kathie Alex's six-day immersion in French food and culture, held at the cottage where the original celebrity chef wrote Mastering the Art of French Cooking with Simone Beck. Alex, a 67-year-old American who was a friend of Child's and studied with Beck, started the school in 1993 and, a few years later, bought the cottage that now serves as home base for her "cook's tour" of the region. You'll cook in Child's kitchen, where three walls still have the utensil-outlined pegboard that Child's husband made to help his wife stay organized. Child urged Alex to "teach Americans that butter and cream are not all bad," and when you whip up the velvety garlic mashed potatoes—with six tablespoons of butter and a half cup of cream to just one pound of potatoes—you'll find her wishes have been honored. With classes limited to six, Alex customizes her curriculum to students' interests and skill levels, but recipes usually include such Niçoise specialties as pissaladière (an onion tart with anchovies, olives, and tomatoes) and panisse (chickpea-flour fries). Of course, in Provence, you'll want to see what's out of the kitchen, too. Students fly the coop for afternoon trips to the farmers' market in Cannes (where regional ingredients like zucchini flowers will soon be turned turn into crispy beer-battered fritters) and a cheese shop. Not to be missed: lunch and a behind-the-scenes kitchen tour at the two Michelin-starred Palme d'Or, helmed by chef Christian Willer. After your next dinner party, you can brag that you learned the dishes in "Julia's kitchen."

Accommodations: Comfortable rooms with French country accents in Child's former cottage.

When: May, June, September, and October (plus a special winter class and truffle hunt in February).

Cooking with Friends in France
Tel: 800 236 9067
$2,450 per person for six days, including lodging, breakfasts, lunches, classes, and excursions. Max class size: 6

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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