In a way, it’s the French version of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire.”
World-famous French chef, Alain Ducasse, chose fifteen women from Sarcelles, a suburb of Paris housing mostly poor immigrants mainly from France’s former North African colonies.
An article in The New York Times tells the whole story, almost a Cinderella saga:
All are from Sarcelles, all were either born outside of France or are first generation immigrants. Most have a passionate interest in cooking but little knowledge of French cuisine, accustomed instead to North African traditions and families eating from one large dish. A young woman from Mali screamed, her friends said, when she first saw a live lobster.
Like many culinary schools, Ducasse’s
… also runs a small restaurant, open to the public, which dares to eat the products of the school kitchen, but for only $18 for a three-course meal. The other day it was a beef roast or a curried chicken, with flan for dessert topped with a big tuile cookie.
Living as they do in what can only be described as housing projects not unlike those in big cities in the United States, these fifteen women know what an opportunity they’ve been given. According to the article, they do not feel patronized at all.
It shall be interesting to see what, if any, effect their formal training has on their home cooking in the future. And … what effect their culinary heritage will have on French cuisine.
Making tuile cookies can be a bit challenging at first, but if you’re interested, try this recipe from Epicurious.com.
For more about Alain Ducasse’s cuisine, see the following books:
By Alain Ducasse and Frederic Robert
By Alain Ducasse and Linda Dannenberg
L’Atelier of Alain Ducasse : The Artistry of a Master Chef and His Protegés, By Alain Ducasse, Jean-Françoise Revel, Benedict Beauge and Hervé Amiard
Spoon: Food & Wine, By Alain Ducasse and Hartmut Kiefer