A great attraction of the luxurious Hotel Le Saint James located in the quaint village of Bouliac, some 20km from Bordeaux, is the cooking class offered by Celia Girard, sous-chef to 2-Michelin star chef Nicolas Magie.
The ‘classroom’ is in a glassed annex next to the hotel, which features a modern kitchen designed by Poggenpohl. The course can accommodate up to 12 cookery students at one time and is designed for people of all ages, including children.
All students are given a bright pink apron to wear while they listen attentively to Celia, a charming teacher with a great sense of humor and endless patience. Thankfully, she doesn’t get upset if her students don’t know how to cut an onion properly or if they throw salt instead of sugar into the mix for the famous Canneles! She simply makes amends and starts afresh with a proverbial French shrug.
Like chef Magie, Celia loves fresh products and when possible locally grown produce. Contrary to Chef Magie, however, she is a great fan of butter and often says ‘more butter’ which I still think of fondly when I reminisce about the course.
During the lesson students are shown how to prepare a three-course meal including starters, canneles and a main dish – which was a gorgeous fillet of hake wrapped in fig leaves with a topping of figs, hazelnuts and grapes (click to download the recipe).
Overall, I found the course great fun as I learned to easily prepare gourmet recipes and improve my cooking skills all while enjoying the company of other budding cooks in a professional, yet relaxed environment.
The cookery course costs €85 (for preparation of a three-course meal).
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