Get your passport ready… We’re about to add a destination to your travel bucket-list. Founded by mother-daughter duo Marjorie Taylor and Kendall Smith Franchini and located in the picturesque wine capital of France, The Cook’s Atelier sounds like a dream. And for Marjorie and Kendall, it’s a dream realized! The Cook’s Atelier is a cooking school, epicurean destination and wine shop – offering local market tours, traditional French cooking classes, seasonal suppers, and workshops throughout the year. We recently spoke with Marjorie to learn more, and are certain this is an experience we can’t miss:
Hi Marjorie! First, we’re curious. Why Beaune?
We first dreamed up the idea of moving to France decades ago. Family is very important to us, and we wanted to create a business around the things we love and the life we wanted to live. French culture, food, and lifestyle have always been inspiring to us. As a cook, I chose the route of a self-taught cook and apprenticed in French restaurants and had the privilege of studying at La Varenne under noted teacher and cookbook author, Anne Willan, where I perfected my skills in classical French techniques. Early in my career, I opened my own French-inspired neighborhood restaurant and cooking school in the States.
For Kendall, her love of France began at an early age. She studied French and Art History at university and then found herself living in Paris and working at Christie’s Auction House. Over the years, she gained an interest in wine and in her off hours, she pursued this interest by working at Legrand Filles et Fils, a well-known wine bar in Paris. She loved this experience so much that she decided to move to Beaune to study viticulture and ultimately worked for Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant in their Burgundian office. As fairytales go, she found her very own Frenchman and decided to make France her permanent home. She has two adorable little French babies, Luc and Manon Clair (tiny cook’s in training).
We love that! What sparked the idea for the business?
Being a close mother and daughter team, it was important for both of us to live on the same side of the pond and create strong family roots. The time had come to bring together our combined passions and create the life we had always dreamed of. A life where every day was a reflection of our true values and heart’s desires. Both of us being very entrepreneurial, we decided to create a business that would reflect our love of all things French, food, markets, family traditions and a life rich in simplicity with a focus on what really matters – family. The Cook’s Atelier has been a true labor of love and has evolved over the years, taking on its own momentum. We knew this journey would have its ups and downs and that we would come across a few bumps in the road along the way. We set our sights high and jumped feet first into founding The Cook’s Atelier with the intention of creating a special place that supports the connection between the farmer and the cook and where people from all over the world could come together, learn to cook, and have a good time.
We have to ask. Biggest challenge so far?
The miles and miles of French red tape!
What about pleasant surprises?
Our concept has been very well received by locals and visitors to Beaune. It is unique in that the focus really is on what matters, family. We wanted to create a business that allowed us to incorporate all the things that we love about France and share them with others. Through all of our outlets, we really try to share the Burgundian lifestyle from our prospective in a very real way. The main focus of our business is the artisan food producers and wine makers of Burgundy and through our cooking classes and workshops we try to inspire others to seek out their local artisan food producers as well. The Cook’s Atelier is much more than just a cooking school. It is about the full experience of shopping at the market, creating a meal together and sharing it in a convivial atmosphere, in a beautiful setting with others.
We’re intrigued! What types of classes do you offer?
We offer three types of cooking classes at The Cook’s Atelier.
“Market Tour and Cooking Class” takes place on Wednesdays and Saturdays, market days in Beaune. This program is our most popular as it gives guests the opportunity to meet our favorite artisan food producers at the market and learn more about the region from a cook’s perspective. We meet in the morning and tour the market, gathering ingredients for the day’s cooking class before we head to the atelier for the hands-on cooking class. After the cooking class, guests sit down for “the long French lunch”. This program is very convivial and people come from all over the world to enjoy the common interest of good food and conversation around the table.
“A Cook’s Workshop” can be offered as a one, three or five-day program and is geared to the more serious cook. It gives the students an opportunity to learn the specific skills of a French cook and includes the cook’s basics, batterie de Cuisine and classic French techniques. Each day is filled with hands-on instruction, good food and good wine.
“Seasonal Suppers” is available as a cooking class/dining experience for private groups and is available as a lunch or dinner. We begin the program with a demonstration style cooking class before guests enjoy a convivial dinner. Our seasonal suppers program highlights a favorite artisan food producer or winemaker from the region.
Sign us up! To learn more about The Cook’s Atelier (and why it should be at the top of your travel bucket list), start the slideshow!
Also, tune in next week. We’ll be sharing an exclusive, seasonal recipe straight from The Cook’s Atelier!