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Provence and The Riviera . . .

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Bruno Maccari

Recognized by the French Order of Academic Palms for his contribution to the development and prestige of French culture, Bruno Maccari is President of the local chapter of this national honorary order, originally established by Napoleon I in 1808. A native son of the village of Sorgues where he still lives and works today, Bruno is an artisan sign writer, a French language enthusiast and he plays accordeon as a hobby. I had the pleasure of visiting the beautiful antique Roman theater in Orange in his company just yesterday.

I could not wipe the smile off my face for the first two hours of my cooking class with Michelin starred chef René Bérard in his beautiful domain in the Var region of Provence, la "Bastide des Saveurs". 

This first class chef is in the business of transmitting the real Provence experience with utmost authenticity … and, like the other 5 novice students participating that day, I was under his spell.
My equally as entranced colleague Linda enjoyed capturing the details of Mr. Bérard’s rustic kitchen décor, from its jarred herbs and spices to its copper pans and Provençal tiles... not to mention Mr. Bérard's very attentive little spaniel named Gribouille.
Mr. Bérard organizes his classes by theme and our session was focused on dessert. More than six different desserts were concocted by our group of 5 novice students, from lemon meringue pie to crème patissière, chocolate moelleux cakes and caramelized apples. Learning (just a few of) the tricks of Mr. Bérard’s trade was fascinating. And as if weren’t enough to be swept off our feet by Mr. Bérard’s jovial nature and continual joke-telling, the moment of ultimate enjoyment came when we wrapped up our fourth hour of cooking and walked outside to the most quintessentially Provençal table setting my imagination could have depicted.
Giving classes in La Cadière d’Azur, this charming small town of 5,000 inhabitants, is a feat Mr. Bérard particularly takes to heart as this is where he was born and raised. Having celebrated his 70th birthday not too long ago, Mr. Bérard ensured the transmission of talent and family cooking secrets, via his son Jean-François who now runs a nearby restaurant also owned by the family.
Many thanks to Stéphane Zanarelli for organising this opportunity for Linda and myself. If a cooking class with René Bérard interests you, don't hesitate to contact us using the link on the right.

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