Moving to Uzès
One year ago, Yetunde, Remi and myself started a new chapter of our lives in Uzes.
It is always a challenge, personally and professionally, to start a new life in a new town.
You need to get to know your neighbors and certainly hope they will be open to getting to know you. You need to seek out sometimes overzealously; your future colleagues or partners; you need to find friends and to be sure that your children can also find friends.
Having moved several times in my life, you’d think I would be used to starting over but it’s not so easy to start a new life even when the location is superb. The south of France is known for its warm weather but also for its warm people and for that we are grateful.
We have had the chance to make a few friends – some even before we officially moved here, and Remi (our son), soon going to school, should find it easy enough to make his first friends – he is quite the social butterfly.
What really makes us happy here, is the quality of life and the weather of course, which contributes greatly to the quality of the foods at the market – from vegetable to poultry, cheeses, and meat…wine, I could go on and on.
We arrived with the firm intention to start a second cooking school in Provence. Ok admittedly Uzès is not technically in Provence with is approximately 45 minutes away, but in this part of Languedoc-Rousillon with its proximity to Provence what you know as the Provençal way of life is quite prevalent here.
Initially we had wanted to be within Uzès, but the price and the small spaces available made us change our plans.
In the end we came to love the idea of being close enough to Uzès to drive clients from the market if need be, to a space that would be large and airy to make classes enjoyable. So Arpaillargues is where we settled right next to the quaint Musée 1900 – only 3 minutes drive from Uzès . . . It was Yetunde who found the perfect location to install the stove.
After a few weeks of hard work, (see pictures to convince you that it was a need to redo the space to our tastes).
We really wanted to get people into the school ASAP but you know how it is with renovations and construction. So our first class took place at a friend’s guesthouse, les Olivettes, which is one of the homes our students for our Week in Uzès program will be lucky enough to stay in (more on that later). The first class was with a lovely group of ladies who were eager to learn about Cook’n with Fish.
Then finally, in July, we welcomed our first cooks. It was a lot of fun to cook in this large and homey kitchen. A lot of good food has been made and eaten here so far and I believe there is more to come. With the addition of a Chef’s Table – Food & Wine Pairing Class, where I will be joined by my good friend, the Sommelier, Frédéric Duverger of Cannes You Taste and the week-long culinary vacation program where we give you a crash course into French culture through bread baking, market visits, winery visits and lots of tastings and cooking. It’s a great way for us to share what we love about the region with eager participants.
We are now in our quiet period, expecting a very busy summer, as the inquiries have started to arrive and we’re looking forward to it. It is quiet but not that restful as we put in place a new reservation database to make taking bookings easier – we hope. I’ve been piling up the work on Yetunde’s desk as she is now our Marketing and Sales director. I feel guilty when I see her working away on her computer into the wee hours of the night because she really wants to get something out ASAP.
But what can I say, I love passionate people. The same can be send about the local vendors & producers we have the pleasure of working with – they are all passionate about their jobs. We are trying to share a bit of their passion and savoir faire with you in some interviews and reviews. So at least the next time you pass by them at the market you can feel you know them just a bit better.
In 2016 with our Week in Uzès program, we’ll have a chance to chat with some of them directly and even visit their places of work. You will have taste the best wines in France, great truffles, very fresh goat cheese, you will touch the trees who brought the olives that make the olive oil we are using for cooking… Everything is fresh, local and most of the time organic. Man, I’m getting excited just thinking about it.
We’ll be meeting and chatting with the wine makers, we will pet the goats who give their milk for that fantastic cheese we had with the wine we brought from across the street… Before the end, you’ll want to move to Uzès too!
That is the life I like, as it is the life I grew up with, when my grandmother had a her farm and her restaurant in the ‘’Poitou’’ (south west of France). I feel like a kid again! See you this Summer!