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HiP Paris is pleased to feature a conversation with Marjorie Taylor from The Cook’s Atelier, an American owned French cooking school in Beaune. Head over to my Sweepstakes for a chance to win The Cook’s Atelier cookbook (and a beautiful copper whisk). Other prizes include a week in my Paris apartment, a Paris, Perfected trip planning service, French linens, and so much more. Additionally, you will be helping my non-profit Veggies to Table work to end hunger in our community. Merci! – Erica
Marjorie Taylor and Kendall Smith Franchini are the co-owners of The Cook’s Atelier— a cooking school, culinary boutique, and wine shop extraordinaire, located in Beaune, Burgundy. The ethos is simple: encourage guests to become more confident cooks and teach them the importance of quality ingredients and seasonality. Offering private dining experiences, masterclasses, and even a chic pied-a-terre to rest your head, it’s little wonder that The Cook’s Atelier has been dubbed an international culinary destination.
What inspired you and your daughter to set up a cooking school? Had you always wanted to teach others how to cook?
We founded The Cook’s Atelier in 2008. The concept for The Cook’s Atelier was envisioned many years before we actually moved to France. We have always been a close mother/daughter team. I raised Kendall as a single mother and our origins are pretty humble. We’ve always found it important to dream big and to think outside the box. I pursued my passion for cooking, working my way up the ladder at various restaurants and ultimately opened my own restaurant and cooking school when Kendall was young. When Kendall left for college, it became clear that her passion was France. After having spent a significant amount of time studying in France during her college years, she began studying viticulture in Burgundy. I knew that ultimately that was where she belonged. After many brainstorming sessions and countless glasses of wine, we decided to permanently uproot from our origins and took a leap of faith to create a new life in France. We decided to combine our passions for food, wine, and teaching to create The Cook’s Atelier. We started with no formal business plan, just a strong gut instinct to create a place that we would love and hoped others would too.
You’re both originally from Phoenix. What drew you to Burgundy?
We first visited Burgundy in 2001 on a whim when Kendall was working in Paris and fell in love with Beaune. It is a small town, yet still very international. We love the seasons and our connection with the community and think it really is a little slice of heaven on earth.
France is home to a wealth of great restaurants and cooking schools. What do you think makes The Cook’s Atelier stand out?
Our goal is to make French home cooking approachable. The classes are convivial, approachable and most importantly, fun. We teach classic French techniques and methods we feel every cook should know. Although we are not a restaurant, a culinary experience at our Atelier is more than just about the cooking. It’s about the experience as whole – the attention to detail, the warm and welcoming environment, and the joy that is shared really resonates with people. Guests come from around the world to cook in our kitchen and following the cooking class, they gather around our table to enjoy the long French lunch together with menus inspired by the season and what looks good in the garden. Each course is paired with Burgundy wines from our shop. We enjoy sharing our passion for everything we love about France, and that the people who come visit us are so inspired they take a little bit of that home with them to share with those they love.
Your cookbook The Cook’s Atelier is more than just a collection of recipes. Can you tell us the inspiration behind it?
We wanted to share the story of how The Cook’s Atelier came to be and highlight the beauty of the Burgundy region through its farmers, markets, and community. We teach our guests the importance of cooking seasonally and supporting local farmers; it was only natural to include that as part of our cookbook.
Do you have a favorite recipe in the book?
It is hard to pick a favorite. One that we encourage our guests to practice would be our Gougères.
It’s a classic Burgundian favorite and makes for the perfect apéritif to enjoy with a glass of bubbly. This is one of the recipes we always teach during our culinary programs as it is fun to make and it is a great icebreaker.
The Cook’s Atelier philosophy centers around farm-to-table cooking and eating. Do you have a favorite ingredient that you like to use?
We feel that the most important thing as a cook is to source the very best ingredients that you can find. If we had to pick just one, it would be good French butter.
What do you think is the best part about your culinary programs and masterclasses?
They are all unique and never quite the same. Our menus and recipes vary depending on the season and the whim of the cook. Our five-day Masterclass Program is like spending a week with friends, cooking and sharing meals together. Not only are we learning French techniques, we are sharing the experience with others from around the world who love to cook. Guests begin the week as strangers and leave as friends.
A mother-daughter duo running a business is no small feat! How has your relationship affected how you do things?
We certainly didn’t ever think we would be business partners but we have always been a very close mother/daughter team. As our business and brand has grown, we’ve enjoyed working together and have learned to work as a team, highlighting all of our strengths. Laurent (Kendall’s husband and the Frenchman of our family) has also joined us and manages the culinary boutique and wineshop. Even though it was never really planned, it has become a successful small family business that we are very proud of.
Could you describe your ideal day in Beaune? If you had nothing to do and no responsibilities!
As small business owners and entrepreneurs, it is hard for us not to think or talk about the business in some way. But over the years, we have tried to make sure that we have some down time. One of our favorite ways to spend a day is a “garden day” and a nice long lunch at The Woodland House, home to our cook’s garden.
And finally, when you’re not cooking for yourself, where do you like to eat out in Beaune?
We enjoy a casual meal at La Dilettante and Caves Madeleine as they too support the local farmers in the area.
Can’t wait and want a copy their cookbook ASAP? Click this link to get The Cook’s Atelier Cookbook from Amazon.
The Cook’s Atelier – 43, rue de Lorraine, 21200 Beaune, France / +33 (0)3 80 24 61 80
La Dilettante – 11 rue du Faubourg Bretonnière, 21200 Beaune, France
Caves Madeleine – 8 rue du Faubourg Madeleine, 21200 Beaune, France
- Enter our sweepstakes to win a signed copy of “The Cook’s Atelier Cookbook” and their signature copper whisk
- Learn to cook French in the Cook’s Atelier Masterclass
- Even Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop recommends The Cook’s Atelier
Written by Rachel Naismith for HiP Paris. All photos the Cook’s Atelier. Looking to travel? Check out Plum Guide and our Marketplace for fabulous vacation rentals in Paris, France or Italy. Looking to rent long-term or buy in France or Italy? Ask us! We can connect you to our trusted providers for amazing service and rates or click here. Looking to bring France home to you or to learn online or in person? Check out our marketplace shop and experiences.