Cook, eat and run

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London’s L’atelier des Chefs, opened in July this year, follows the concept of the Bergerault brothers cookery schools which aim to make cooking accessible and easy. London’s L’atelier on Wigmore Street in Marylebone consists of two floors dedicated to cooking, eating and the joys of food. There are two large teaching kitchens and separate dinning areas where the students eat what they’ve prepared.
Modern cooks
Jérôme Fourest, country manager of the London L’atelier, explains its concept: “Our cooking classes are aimed at ‘the microwave generation’ – a group of people between 25 and 45 years old who were brought up in modern households where mums had little time to cook. The options opened to them are usually daunting.  Cookbooks are full of recipes but often for experienced cooks. The cookery courses are for people who have time to follow them and they rarely provide practical advice for everyday cooking.
“Designing D’ateliers des Chefs we reversed the traditional formula of cooking courses: the classes were long so we made ours short, they were expensive, we made ours affordable; the produce was often difficult to find in supermarkets – we only use commonly available ingredients. Moreover we use domestic appliances, such as Miele ovens and hobs (not professional ones) which they can use in their homes. 
How does the concept of L’atelier work? “On our website people see the recipes which will be prepared during the week and book online the session which suits them best. However, the booking can also be made over the phone,” explains Jérôme.
The lunchtime classes called Cook, Eat & Run, costing £18, include a 30- minute cooking session during which the participants, in groups of three or four, under a chef’s eye prepare the recipe of the day. Afterwards they share it at the long wooden table enjoying a glass of wine and friendly banter. Then they rush back to work. If they have time, they can linger in the well-stocked cook shop where they can ‘try before they buy’ both produce and equipment.  
There are two lunchtime classes at 12.15am and 1pm.  However, there are also morning, afternoon and evening classes which last from one and half to two hours and which use more sophisticated recipes from around the world.
The enjoyment of the students in my lunchtime group was clear.  For one of them this was her ninth visit to the L’atelier.  “L’atelier is about learning, eating and sharing with others their enjoyment of food with like-minded people,” commented Jérôme.
Apart from the website, the only form of promotion L’atelier benefits from is world of mouth recommendations which seems to work for them very well, since most of the people in my group have heard about it from their friends. Jérôme is not surprised: “People love talking about food and preparing it – and it works for us.”
L’atelier uses Miele and Delaubrac cookers and small appliances from Krupps, Lagostina and Le Creuset. I asked Jérôme how these relationships work and how the customers benefit from them. “We believe in their products. They sponsor our kitchens by equipping them with their appliances; it’s kind of a live showroom for them. It is not our aim to sell these products, however, with our reputation we are endorsing them. If people like them they are available in our shop.”

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