Joëlle tested the cooking workshop which opened recently at the "Centre du Patrimoine".
It was in Old Nice, in the immediate vicinity of the Cours Saleya, on the ground floor of the Old Senate, now transformed into the "Centre du Patrimoine", that the "Cuisine Niçoise" cooking workshop opened this month.
The cooking workshop is actually a classroom that offers 12 fully-equipped workstations. Pots, pans, knives, dishes, bowls, trays, cookie cutters… everything is there, in the standards of a professional kitchen in stainless steel, such as worktops, cabinets and sink. Robot mixers, induction hobs, ovens with steam cooking complete the kitchen range.
Franck Bermond is the appointed head of this workshop. Chef of a restaurant specializing in local gastronomy, he was then professor of cuisine at the Lycée hôtelier Paul Augier and then at Greta in Nice. Former President of "le Cercle de la Capelina d'Or", he is also a member of the Disciples of Auguste Escoffier, of the steering committee of the Cuisine Nissarde label (label managed by the Nice Cote d'Azur Metropolitan Visitors and Convention Bureau) and also a member of the project of Nice cuisine to UNESCO's cultural and intangible heritage. Franck Bermond is not here by chance and we measure how lucky we are to take part in one of his cooking classes. Especially since Frank knows how to put us at ease right away. Here, you feel at home, with friends.
So Chef, what are we going to prepare today to eat? As Franck likes to cook to the rhythm of the seasons with organic local products we will prepare a squash gratin and "Barbajuans". Well, if we're not from the region, the term Barbajuan may not really mean much to you. So let me explain: the barbajuan is a kind of large ravioli stuffed with Swiss chard, parmesan and rice that we eat as a starter. It is usually fried but may also be baked. You can also make barbajauans made from red squash (ideally the long squash from Nice) or cooked meat. For us today it will be squash.
It is 9:30 a.m. We put on our apron and we set up in pairs on each island where a tray with vegetables already peeled and small pots containing the various ingredients already weighed await us.
We embark on the different stages of the preparation of these two dishes thanks to the Chef's simple and precise explanations. A small camera allows us, wherever we are in the room, to follow our movements on a screen. Whether you already a great cooker or not, these steps are accessible to everyone (please note, children under 16 are not accepted due to the presence of knives and hotplates). All the participants of the day get by without difficulty. If we missed something in the making, Franck is there to assist us.
Here, all of our senses are on the alert. We knead the dough, chop the parsley and onions (I cry a little), mix the ingredients and put to cook. The oil crackles under the effect of heat. We are invited to taste to adjust the seasoning if necessary. Good smells already perfume the room, the colors of the squash and parsley enchant our eyes.
Then we started to clean our work plan and ustensils.
For three hours (which passed at a crazy speed), we laughed, listened, worked, salivated ...
It is 12:30 p.m. It's time to leave, but most of the participants are already saying they want to come back. There are so many local recipes to try.
Our squash gratin is cooked. Franck provides us with a lid to close our tray and puts it in a paper bag so that we can leave with our creation. The Barbajuans take their turn from the oven. We pack it all up and we say that it will inevitably be very good, since we made it! Franck puts the recipes in our bags so that we can make them at home.
Those who wish can taste their dishes on site. A pretty little dining room is indeed available. The cutlery is set on a beautiful wooden table. Pretty designer placemats and transparent red chairs invite us to stay. But too bad, other obligations force us to leave but, for sure, we will come back!
Socca, panisses, niçoise stew, gnocchi, lemon tart or even "ganses" ... I'm already hesitating!
Practical information, schedules and prices (several formulas):