Nestled deep in the heart of France’s Burgundian wine country lies the charming town of Beaune. This past autumn, I was in Burgundy for a photoshoot at the the nearby Château de Varennes and decided to extend my visit to allow me a few days to explore the region’s famed vineyards, villages, and fine dining experiences. I was lucky enough to be able to bring my mom along with me, and the absolute highlight of our time in Beaune was spending a day learning about French cooking at The Cook’s Atelier workshop.
I had been following the beautiful French cooking school for years on Instagram and had it filed away as one of my dream travel experiences on Pinterest. When I went to their website and saw that they had two remaining seats for their ‘Day in Burgundy’ cooking class I jumped at the opportunity and immediately purchased them for my mom and I.
Fast forward to a foggy October morning, and we were standing outside of the iconic Alain Hess fromagerie located along the unbelievably charming Place Carnot. Sipping café cremes to keep warm, we eagerly awaited our classmates and teachers arrival while gazing longingly into the fromagerie’s windows which were filled with local Burgundian delicacies. Promptly at ten, our hosts for the day – the lovely mother-daughter team of Marjorie and Kendell, arrived and after greeting us led us into the shop where we spoke with the fromager and learned all about the cheeses of the Burgundy region.
After filling their market baskets with more cheese than I had ever seen, we set off to market in the beautiful Place de la Halle where we met farmers and purchased all of the ingredients for our afternoon’s class. It was wonderfully authentic, filled with local residents doing their bi-weekly shopping, and it had an almost cinematic feel to it – like we had stepped back in time or onto a movie set.
Finally, it was time to visit the Cook’s Atelier workshop – a labyrinth-like workshop housed in a 17th century building in the center of historic Beaune. The storefront features whimsical hand-painted calligraphy on the windows that reminds visitors “no one can come to Burgundy if he is not ready to fall madly in love with life.” Inside, you will first find the culinary boutique which features countless bottles of Burgundian wine, curated by Kendall’s husband, Laurent, and a plethora of French cookware which ranges from antique copper pots and pans to wooden rolling pins. As you continue to wander, you are overwhelmed by the blanket of light that has suddenly enveloped you. Look up, and you will see the most beautiful three-story open glass atrium with ancient spiral stairs that lead to the cooking atelier.
We spent our afternoon in the atelier which had been perfectly designed with ten workspaces for each of the students. Outfitted with ample copper cookware, French knives and cutlery, and the most stunning gold and blue range I had ever seen, it felt like we had stepped into a fantasy. There, Marjorie and Kendall taught us how to make several classic French dishes including cheese souffles, gougeres, and more.
Finally, we retired to the top floor of the atelier which had been artfully turned into a communal dining space. As we walked in we were greeted by classic French music and a glass of perfectly crisp Champagne which we paired with our gougeres. After, it was a long, lingering dinner in which we enjoyed each and every one of our dishes which had been artfully paired with a unique Burgundian wine by Laurent. We got to know the other diners, sharing our favorite travel experiences from France and around the world, and enjoyed the jovial company by candlelight.
As the day slowly crept towards evening, we were treated with a truly outstanding cheese tray which featured over a dozen local cheeses from Alain Hess – each one more delicious than the next. Finally, we bid our kind hosts au revoir and headed out into the crisp air to walk off our most amazing and delicious afternoon. The entire day at the Cook’s Atelier workshop was nothing short of exceptional and, for two self-proclaimed foodies and Francophiles, it was truly the perfect mother-daughter experience that I will cherish for the rest of my life.