I am a cookery tutor who enjoys helping people
engage with food and cooking
I was born in Marseille in the South of France and raised in Bristol. My grandmother Madeleine was an excellent cook. Her house in Marseille had a kitchen carved into the rock of the city. It was small, had only a cold water tap, no space to swing an artichoke and no windows. Her cooking equipment was basic; a few very well worn saucepans, frying pans and casseroles, her only luxury was an electric whisk. On holiday at Madeleine’s she often made meals for twelve or more and everything that came out of that kitchen was marvellous. And there was plenty to marvel at. Madeleine was magical.
This emersion into food and cooking was continued by my mother Dora and two sisters Pierrette and Maryse. Dora and Maryse both had much better facilities than Madeleine but their style was the same. Somehow Pierrette, on a limited budget, managed to acquire a range of equipment that could do everything. Pierrette was cordon bleu making everything look so professional.
Sitting down to eat a family meal was not only about doing what was necessary, fuelling our bodies, taking in nutrients and satisfying hunger. It was also an experience in itself leaving me wondering why the ingredients worked so deliciously and how did Madeleine, Dora, Pierrette and Maryse know how to bring them together and always, always wondering what was next.
Since those days in Marseille and those growing up in Bristol, I have always been interested in food. I was very lucky to have a career in IT during which time I worked in The Netherlands, Belgium, the USA and France. In each place, I have tried to understand its food culture. Back in Bristol with my wife Jane and my two children Georges and Aimée we hosted over eighty English language students. This was an opportunity I could not resist. I liked to cook different things each day. One student complained, “I have been here two months and not eaten the same thing twice”.
Cooking for my family has, at times, been experimental. Not always successfully. I remember laughing at Aimée’s bemusement. “Dad, what is this?” I was trying to think of a reasonable sounding name for the food on our plates but before I could, Aimée said, “You don’t actually know, do you.” “Ummm”, I replied. “Don’t worry,” she said, “it tastes nice, whatever it is.”
Since leaving the IT industry I guess it was only natural that I would find myself cooking for a living. It took a while and I regret not doing this sooner because I am so happy running my cookery events and trying to help others find or reacquaint themselves with all the interesting and rewarding aspects of food and cooking.
I have run over two hundred sessions. Most of them at community centres around Bristol where I arrive with my portable hobs, my boxes of equipment, my bags of ingredients, my recipes and my encouragement. Now I am setting up events on my own and in partnership with others. Exciting times ahead.
Will I ever be as good as Madeleine, Dora, Pierrette and Maryse? No chance. But does that really matter? No it doesn’t. My philosophy is not to be as good as someone else; there are simply just too many good things to be engaged in to worry about that.