There are two things very special about rue du Cardinal Lemoine in the 5th arondissement of Paris. One: Ernest Hemingway lived here. Hemingway was twenty-two, his wife Hadley twenty-six, when they moved to No. 74 on this street. Decades later, no. 59 became the address of a beautiful cultural & culinary school: Le Foodist. It is here that we headed on a warm April afternoon, winding our way up and down cobbled streets that wore the fragrance of flowers and the unmistakable whiff of history.
It is undoubtedly a perk of journalism that you get to experience something as special as a baking class in Paris. I could not wait to meet our hosts and delve into the mysteries of the revered croissant and meringue and macaron–delights that I had so far enjoyed only among the pages of storybooks and at breakfast tables in sundry hotels.
From the moment Fred & Amanda opened the door, to the time we sailed out carrying boxes of freshly baked macarons, it was an experience to cherish forever.
Fred Puillot is a French chemical engineer who did a Chemical Engineering PhD in the US. He has studied Sociology, done an MBA, lived in Belgium and Cincinnati.
But the one reason you must meet him is his amazing knowledge of all things cuisine and culture. Two minutes into a conversation, and you can see how passionate a food lover he is; how well-informed.
We learned how to bake French macarons during a two-hour session with Fred’s British wife Amanda. Ever so gently, she showed us how to measure out the ingredients, whisk them to perfection and set them to bake. It could have been intimidating to work with unfamiliar gadgets and ingredients, but she was so encouraging, so understanding that we forgot our reservations and began to enjoy the experience.
Slowly, amazingly, the macarons began to take shape under our hands. And when they emerged from the oven, brilliant yellow and luscious, the pride in our hearts was akin to what we felt upon earning a college degree! No really; it was the kind of pastry you see adorning French bakeries!
All through, Amanda explained the reasons why the measurements needed precision, and how the mixing process was crucial to the final product.
Afterwards, we sat with the charming couple and enjoyed our creations along with home-brewed coffee. Fred discussed the origins of tea, the amazing cultural interactions he has had, and the challenges of running an enterprise that is so hands-on, so customised.
It was a lovely afternoon spent with wonderful people in the heart of Paris, just minutes away from Notre Dame. The interiors are beautifully done, with a serene feel that slowly eases you into complete relaxation.
This is more than a baking class; it is a gift of learning and joy you give to yourself!
When you visit Paris next, we highly recommend you meet Fred & Amanda, and try your hand at baking or cooking the French way. They offer wine tasting, too. And by the time you go, they might have added new and more interesting experiences to their already-amazing space. Here’s where to find them:
59 rue du Cardinal Lemoine Paris 5e
Tel: +33 (0) 6 71 70 95 22