- 03 Oct 2013 -

The French Dining School, Kerrouet Hous

Poul Erik Jensen is the co-founder of the French Dining School, a multi- cultural Dane fluent in 4 languages who was trained in traditional French cooking. Aside from being le chef, he possess a rich and unparalleled background in the food & beverage industry … from being a purveyor of fine wines, a sommelier to the manager of some of the most prestigious restaurants in Europe. A true foodie who had witnessed evolution of the food and wine world in the last three decades.

Chef Poul Erik is what distinguished the course head and shoulders from others of its kind.. This course is all about getting you to focus on the level of attention to detail required from food preparation to all the prerequisites in creating an intimate dining experience. Chef Poul Erik has a fine eye for intricate details to orchestrate every facet of the process - down to selecting the right wine to compliment every course of the meal, setting the table, picking the flowers with just the perfect colors from the garden, lifting the ambience with the right music, you name it…He also has the gift to stand back, wave his magic wand and somehow rally us to enjoy each other’s company and sample the fruits of our labor as the meal unfolds. At the dining table, he is the poet, the food historian, the linguist and world traveller, the architect and the electrical engineer who can solve your endless remodeling challenges given his accomplishment with the very enchanted Kerrouet House.

Make no mistake this is an intensive five days from a cooking and eating perspective - six to seven hours of cooking, four courses for lunch and dinner every day ladened with the crown jewels of French cooking, think crème fraiche, butter, heavy cream and sauces. You definitely get good value for money as our Chef is all about giving us as much exposure to French cooking (eating and drinking!) as possible. The menu definitely had a focus on seafood given our locale but our Chef was most accommodating of our requests. From lobster bisque to warm oysters and razor clams; roast leg of lamb to pizza Alsacienne, tarte au citron and creme brulee to chocolate cake St. Remy. Let me stop here and take a deep breathe!

There is minimal pre-preparation by Chef Poul Erik as you would find in other cooking schools. What you see is what you get - if you want to sample a dish, be prepared to roll your sleeves all the way up! You make EVERYTHING right down to sweating the onions, making all the stocks and bread for the week, you lay the table for every meal, you pick the herbs from the garden. In engineering terms, this course is the real deal, you experience the entire wing- to- wing process of cooking and dining….this is what makes it so special and the food tasted that much better. This gave me an excuse to have an extra bite, ok a few more bites than I should have… but so worth it even if I have to go on a starvation diet for the next month.

Truth be told I have not met a more patient and encouraging teacher. Whether you are an amateur chef looking to take your French cooking knowledge to the next level; an absolute beginner who wants someone to take the mystique out of French cookery, an explorer looking for a taste of French country living with a twist or an avid foodie who wants to deepen your understanding of French and European culinary culture and traditions (there was a fair amount of Danish influence given Chef Poul Erik's background), somehow the course can be pitched at a level in a relaxed and fun environment where everyone got something out of it. We came as strangers and left as friends bonded by our love for good food.. This truly is not an experience that can be replicated, and once you have been there I guarantee you will be back for more.

I will be back to share my interview of Chef Poul Erik in my next blog post…now let me have a bit of that chocolate cake to relive my memory in the French Dining School !

; The Walnut Grove