I’d forgotten how mesmerizing it is to watch a French chef chop stuff.
It’s been, um, let’s see… good God… thirty years since I was a student at LaVarenne Ecole de Cuisine in Paris. Watching Tarbes-born and now-based chef Marc Berger work his knife, while working the audience… well, it took me back. To 1983 and the upper room of the cooking school on rue St Dominique. At his profession since he was a kid, father a chef, brothers chefs, this guy wields a knife as though it were an extension of his arm, so naturally and effortlessly and with utter precision – rather like my sons wield a remote.
Berger was invited by C’est Bon, a cooking school run by Cordon Bleu trained chef Andrée Riffou, to lead a guest demonstration. Riffou had met Berger when she was a student at the Ottawa campus, and he a chef-instructor. The easy banter between the two was much the pleasure of the evening. And other than the joy of watching his hands, so was the food. On the menu: mushroom soup, tartare de saumon, boeuf Bourguignon on mashed potatoes (equal parts butter to spud) and creme Catalane.
My plan tonight is to replace remote with knife in the hands of my adult-ish sons, home for ‘Reading Week’, and hand them the recipe for Berger’s Bourguignon.