Cooking Class at Chef Oui Chef

Last weekend we had our second cooking class at Chef Oui Chef in the town of La Garde – a small city sandwiched between Toulon and Hyères.

And wow, was it a blast.  Partly because our chef extraordinaire, Simon Istria, has a fantastic personality and regaled us with tales of his past cooking adventures (some among a few of the grand masters of France at l’ institut Paul Bocuse in Lyon) and partly because this was a blow-out day of all things sucré – a sugar-filled wonderland.


Our class began at 10am and lasted a whopping 6 hours.  By the time we arrived, Chef Simon was already taking bite-size sablés out of the oven for us to enjoy with our morning coffee.  And what about a quick batch of chouquette (pictured above) to go with it? That’s what I call starting the day off right…

Guimauve Collage
Making guimauve (French marshmallows).

Maybe it was those first few espressos… or more likely the 1/2 kilo of sugar we all ingested between us… but the time really flew.  The class was a bit “freestyle”, as they say in French, meaning we each took a part of a recipe and were responsible for contributing to the final product.

Far from standing in neat rows and following the chef’s every move, we were spread out all over the kitchen – measuring, stirring, rolling, folding and checking various bubbling fruit mixtures on the stove.

At times I felt anxious (would my French hold up), a bit worried (why is there almond paste on my forehead), and downright confused (did he say mix glucose & inverted sugar or am I crazy)… but throughout the lesson, Chef Simon was full of smiles, good-humor, and most importantly, patience.

fig tarts
Making fig tarts.

Fig Tarts

Another plus is that the chef likes Americans (phew) and follows a few American food blogs.  He also respects that French is not my first language so he did a really nice job “checking in” to see if I was okay over the course of the day.

Class Collage

And I was more than okay after sampling all of the sweet treats we made – guimauve, panna cotta, pâte de fruit, pâte d’amande, and a few dozen beautiful fig tarts.

There were a ton of “leftovers” that we were dying to take home, and I learned that the French have thankfully adopted an old American favorite… Tupperware.   No translation needed.


2 thoughts on “Cooking Class at Chef Oui Chef”

  1. He sounds like an absolute treasure, Tuula! I’m so glad you had such a good experience with him. 🙂 The food you guys made is gorgeous and sounds scrumptious. 🙂


  2. looks like a fantastic time! How was working with the glucose? I hate that stuff and sighed dramatically every time I had to work with it.


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