Learning from the pros

I often think I am a pretty good cook, until I watch a pro in action. Then I realize just how much I have to learn, which is both humbling and really exciting. For the second time in a few weeks (the first was when I was a guest cook in the kitchen at Back Lane Café), my zeal to improve my skills in the kitchen has been given a big boost.

I was fortunate to be invited to attend the inaugural event of C’est Bon Cooking’s Guest Chef series, featuring Chef Marc Berger from France who delivered a special cooking demonstration to a group of almost two dozen eager foodies. Given his credientials – Chef Berger has worked all over the world and served as an instructor at Ottawa’s Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Art Institute – I was very eager to watch, learn and taste.

C'est Bon Cooking's Chef Andree Riffou was pleased to welcome Chef Marc Berger who was one of her instructors at Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa.

C’est Bon Cooking’s Chef Andree Riffou was pleased to welcome Chef Marc Berger who was one of her instructors at Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa.

Taking place at the funky, flexible Grounded Kitchen space, we watched Chef Berger demonstrate an easy to recreate meal which included Salmon Tartare, Mushroom Cappuccino, Boeuf Bourguignon and Crème Catalane.

Chef Berger was humourous and engaging, offering clear instructions and providing detailed answers to each question from the group. I was struck also by his efficiency and economy of motion – each step he demonstrated seemed so effortless and effective.

It took Chef Berger mere moments to prepare the ingredients for the Salmon Tartare, which even non-fish lovers swooned over!

It took Chef Berger mere moments to prepare the ingredients for the Salmon Tartare, which even non-fish lovers found absolutely delicious!

Watching him combine the ingredients for the Salmon Tartare, rather than simply stirring it all together, he scooped up spoonfuls of the gorgeous, glistening salmon, studded with herbs and shallots, then gently shook them off the spoon and back into the bowl so as not to compress the tender fish.

This simple Salmon Tartare had a delicious, fresh flavour; it was served in paper-thin crepes in  honour of Shrove Tuesday.

This simple Salmon Tartare had a delicious, fresh flavour; it was served in paper-thin crepes in honour of Shrove Tuesday.

As he used a whisk to deftly mash the potatoes to accompany the main course, he playfully added enough butter to make Julia Child blush – but they were the tastiest mashed potatoes I have every eaten!

One of the many tips I learned was to cook the pearl onions separately from the beef mixture. Adding them to the stew, or 'daube' as he called it, right before serving allows them to stay bright and white.

One of the many tips I learned was to cook the pearl onions separately from the beef mixture. Adding them to the stew, or ‘daube’ as he called it, right before serving allows them to stay bright and white.

Every single dish was simple yet perfectly seasoned and full of flavour. I cannot wait to try Chef Berger’s Boeuf Bourguignon recipe myself as it greatly surpasses my best efforts thus far.

The best Boeuf Bourguignon and mashed potatoes I have ever tasted.

The best Boeuf Bourguignon and mashed potatoes I have ever tasted.

Based on the success of this evening, C’est Bon Cooking has decided to run additional guest chef events – next up are two evenings (one each in English and French) with Georges Laurier, known to many thanks to his years at the helm of Laurier sur Montcalm and the Canadian Museum of History’s Bistro Boreal. If you love learning about – and eating – really good food, I encourage you to check out these sessions.

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About Paula Roy

Welcome to my kitchen! I play with words and with food. I love simple dishes prepared with passion and am always seeking to find new methods to make food as fun and flavourful as possible. I'm also an enthusiastic explorer of faraway lands and cuisines.
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2 Responses to Learning from the pros

  1. Pingback: Cooking with Marc Berger | C'est Bon Cooking

  2. Pingback: Cooking demonstration in Ottawa

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