How to Master French Cooking: 4 Key Ingredients


There is an old story, attributed to master violinist Jascha Heifetz, where a man on the street in New York City asked him how to get to Carnegie Hall. Without missing a beat, Heifetz replied, “Practice.” Those who have mastered French cooking will often say that while they have mastered the sauces and methodology, it is an ongoing process of practice. If you have seen the 2009 film, Julie and Julia, or tried your hand at Childs 1961 cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, you know that this cooking style requires practice, patience, attention to detail, timing and intuition.

You may wonder how the French came to lead western cuisine. Prior to the 15th century, French royals ate in service de confusion, where all the food was served at once. Meals consisted largely or smoked or salted meats. When Florentine Catherine de Medici arrived to marry Henry II of France she changed the culinary landscape with the presence of her personal chefs and manners at table.

Three French chefs are largely responsible for the evolution of French cuisine as we know it today: La Varenne, Marie- Antoine Careme and George Auguste Escoffier. One chef is responsible for making French cuisine accessible to the American masses: Julia Child. Interested in trying in trying one of her recipes? A good start might be her recipe for beef bourguignon.


While it is challenging to reduce such a broad cuisine to essential elements, L’Ecole Culinaire – Kansas City Program Director Chef Patrick Parmentier, himself a French Chef, shared what he considers the four key ingredients to fine French cooking. “Herbs de Provence, aromatic mirepoix, quatre epices and wine are central to many French dishes,” shared Chef Parmentier. Training alongside seasoned, professional chef instructors is an ideal way to study the nuances of this cuisine. Training in French cooking at L’Ecole provides the essential tools for mastery.

We are fortunate to have seasoned professionals teaching at L’Ecole who have trained in the Escoffier brigade system. An American Culinary Federation Educational Foundation accredited culinary school, L’Ecole Culinaire offers hands-on training in French cuisine from industry experienced professionals.

Interested in French cuisine? You can complete your study of French and other cooking techniques at L’Ecole Culinaire in less time than you might think. With the New Year upon us, now is a great time to register for classes starting in January. We have campus locations in Kansas City, Memphis and St. Louis and would enjoy showing you our international kitchens. For more information on starting a career in the culinary world, click here to submit your request for information.


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