The Most Renowned Culinary Schools of Paris
It is pretty difficult to mess up butter, sugar and carbs – basically the three main staples of French life. That being said, it is no surprise that Paris has risen to become the food capital of the world. Paris is a huge fondue melting pot for all of France’s traditional foods, leading to a city filled with the rich smells of meats, breads, and the slightly less intoxicating scent of cheese. It is no surprise then, that as well as containing the world’s best food, it should also play host to some of the world’s best culinary schools.
The culture of food in France
French pastries sit in a boulangerie in Paris
France’s culinary culture is unlike anything I have ever seen before. Coming from the United States, I was used to eating solely as a way of gaining nutrients. It was not uncommon for me to quietly eat a cold peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch or chow down while walking through the streets.
As I sat down to take my first bite of a traditional French meal with my girlfriend and her parents in rainy, northern France, I realized that my food habits were going to have to be drastically altered or else I risked being lumped into the dreaded category of “ugly Americans.”
Dinner was never a formal occasion at my house and I cannot remember ever being told to place the fork on the left side of my plate (or is it the right?). I had certainly never seen those silly little rocks they leave on the table in order to protect the table-cloth from the dirty knife. It was a new, perfectly seasoned world to me.
The French take food very seriously. Family dinners are extravagant affairs that usually contain no less than three courses. They tend to span hours filled with conversation, drink and high cholesterol food. Cooking, therefore, is also highly valued in French culture. So, without further ado, let us dive into some of the most renowned culinary schools of Paris.
Le Cordon Bleu
When creating a list of the most renowned culinary schools in Paris it would be blasphemous to not kick it off with Le Cordon Blue. With over fifty different culinary schools around the globe, Le Cordon Bleu is without a doubt the most well known school in Paris and, arguably, the world.
It was opened 1985 after originating as a magazine that offered French cooking advice. Now located just south of the Eiffel Tower in the 15th arrondissement, Le Cordon Bleu offers workshops in various types of gastronomy. You can go and check out their presentations (most of them are translated into English) five days a week.
They tend to be relatively expensive but once you are there you will find that all of the ingredients are provided. Attending a class or lecture at this prestigious school promises to be a once in a lifetime experience. It is the yeast you can do.
For more information on courses and demonstrations click here.
École de Cuisine Alain Ducasse
A photo of Alain Ducasse’s restaurant in France – Courtesy of Wikimedia images
In the richly decorated 16th arrondissement, located just ten minutes away from Le Cordon Bleu, sparkle the glamorous kitchens of École de Cuisine Alain Ducasse. The glinting table-tops hint at the culinary magic that takes place above them.
The school was created by the world renowned chef Alain Ducasse. He is a hot name in the cooking world and has earned many awards as well as operating numerous restaurants in Paris and other countries.
The classes are open for anyone to join. There is everything from beginner level classes, family cooking classes, cooking camps, to wine classes. The starting price is 90€ for a beginner level class.
For more information on classes click here.
To get an idea about what makes this chef so special, visit his chocolatier on Rue de la Roquette, 75011.
You will smell it from a mile away!
La Cuisine Paris
This school offers a wonderful experience thanks to its laid back vibe and English speaking accessibility. Not only does it offer cooking classes, it also offers English-speaking food tours of Paris.
Walking and sniffing through the streets of Paris, these tours mix food and history. You can choose your tours based on neighborhoods such as Le Marais and Les Halles or you can pick a tour based on your food preference. Either way, these tours are some of the best ways to catch a glimpse of the French culinary culture.
The classes are diverse and their prices range depending on what sort of class you want to take. Children are welcome. The kitchens are made to resemble the kind of kitchens found in an ordinary home, giving off a wonderfully comfortable and homely feel. Go out there and book a class! There is no thyme like the present.
Les Coulisses du Chef
Translated to literally mean behind the scenes with the chef, Les Coulisses du Chef is another world renowned culinary school specializing in French cuisine. It was created by Olivier Berte and has sky rocketed itself to become one of the leaders of French culinary Schools.
Olivier Berte is friendly and welcoming, eager to show his cooking technique with anyone willing to participate. Along with more traditional cooking classes, Olivier Berte also offers a class on molecular cooking. This class embarks on a journey to understand the science behind cooking.
Whether you want to take a traditional French cuisine class or put on your protective goggles and dig into the chemistry of cooking, Les Coulisses du Chef is your best bet.
The front of the Hôtel Ritz – Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Located in the center of the world’s most luxurious hotel, the Ecole Ritz-Escoffer is founded in the famous kitchens of the Hôtel Ritz. The hotel is placed in the expensive heart of Paris, and the hotel boasts of fine dining and lavish living.
The culinary school is taught by the many chefs who work in the hotel’s kitchen. While I have not attended a class myself, I have heard that the teachers are some of the most approachable and gifted chefs in Paris.
For many people a visit to the Hôtel Ritz is the corner stone of the Parisian experience. Not everyone, however, can say that they have taken part in the magic hidden in the aromatic kitchen behind the scenes.
Of course, cooking in the most expensive kitchen in Paris comes with a hefty price tag. The types of classes vary but the prices are always over 100€. If you are in the mood for some the finest dining in Paris, the Ecole Ritz-Escoffier will not disappoint.
Book your experience here!