My name is Michael Wilshaw and I have been a professional chef for nearly two decades. At the end of the Mediterranean season, after a busy summer at sea, Helen at YPI CREW asked me if I was interested in going on a three-day course, or 'formation', at the Ducasse Education Training Centre near Paris. I jumped at the chance, booked myself a hotel, organised my flights and three weeks later I was honing my skills the Alain Ducasse way! This is a brief account of my experience there.
The course itself is outstanding. This is 5-star training, with no expense spared. The education facility has four beautiful kitchens, a test kitchen with a large crew/student meal area and a 'chefs table' breakfast bar arrangement. Students from the 3-year bachelor cookery program also work in this facility. Each day started with a delicious breakfast, which included fresh bread, pastries and an espresso to kick us into action! Our lunches, which included some seriously tasty deserts, were prepared by the resident students and served to us at the school.
In total there were nine chefs attending the training course alongside me. Yann Capsie, who is the Senior Chef Instructor of the education facility, was previously Head Chef for Ducasse in London, St Tropez and Paris. The theme was 'poultry, game and meat. ' On our first morning, Yann talked us through the 25 recipes that we would prepare, cook and then eat over the course of the three days. Yann and the ten of us then prepared each dish together. We started with the pate en croute, foie gras terrine and other pressed, jellied and cold items. The second day we ate our work from the previous day and prepared various game dishes. The final day saw us preparing tasty chicken, tripe and rabbit dishes.
Pictured: Chef Yann Capsie
This experience was extremely valuable to me. In addition to working with a top class chef, I learned some new tricks - particularly when it comes to high-quality butchery and cold meat work. As such, I would recommend this course to experienced professional chefs who are looking to perfect their skills in a top culinary environment.
The Ducasse Education training centre is located in Argenteuil, in the northwestern suburbs of Paris. A fifteen-minute walk along the river Seine gets you to the main transport system and then you can jump on a train or tram, which will take you into the centre of the French capital. You can choose to stay in a hotel in the city centre and commute to the school, or find accommodation in Argenteuil and go into Paris once the classes finish mid-afternoon, which is what I did. I would say staying in Paris is probably the best option as it will give you more time to time to enjoy the sights and culinary delights once the lessons for the day have finished.
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