Dine at Chef Thierry Marx’s Culinary Training School

Dine at Chef Thierry Marx’s Culinary Training School
Cuisine Mode d’Emploi(s) is not your typical cooking school. Founder Thierry Marx — the Michelin-starred chef, culinary innovator, and social activist — is keenly aware of a need for more properly trained cooking professionals in the French restaurant industry. At the same time, he understands that culinary training courses are largely unaffordable to many who might wish to enter this world.  In 2012, Marx was able to secure the public and private funding necessary to launch Cuisine Mode d’Emploi(s) and thereby offer free training as chefs, bakers, caterers, and/or sommeliers to disadvantaged individuals from local communities such as those lacking educational qualifications, the unemployed, immigrants, refugees, even ex-prisoners. At the present time, there are nine schools in France. The Paris branch is located in the Saint Blaise district of the 20th arrondissement and includes a restaurant, La Salamandre. Several times a month trainees enrolled in the current session get to step away from the stoves and cooktops and preside over full lunches and dinners for diners from outside.   Cuisine Mode d’Emploi(s) is not just characterized by its commitment to social responsibility. Over the years, it has become more environmentally responsible as well, using locally sourced and seasonal ingredients, cutting down on waste, recycling, and so forth. Now, it is going into overdrive.  Photo credit: Cuisine Mode d’Emploi(s) Welcome to the Paris 2024 “Food Vision”  Last year, Chef Marx assumed the role of Sustainable Catering Expert on the Ecological Transformation Committee for the 2024 Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games. In his own words, “The Games are enabling us to bring together the entire food ecosystem around a vision for catering that is sustainable from an environmental and social point of view. It is a unique opportunity to support the preparation of food in a positive way, by proving that what is good for our health and the planet is also good to eat!”  That’s quite a mission statement and it was only logical that Marx should look close to home to put those very ambitious, ecologically-responsible objectives into action. To test the model’s viability, he came up with a new course — l’Éthique À Table (EAT) — and the kitchens at Cuisine Mode d’Emploi(s) proved to be the perfect incubator.  Last month I got the chance to observe the new program in action. The 20th arrondissement might sound a bit remote, but there’s good choice of itineraries via bus and/or metro that will drop you minutes from the door of the school.  Photo: Cuisine Mode d’Emploi(s) In the new EAT model, trainees are divided into two groups: cooks and bakers. Midway through the training it’s time to “switcher”, which means everyone gets a shot at working in both kitchens. In this specific session, the participants worked on creating a menu featuring eco-friendly takes on dishes from five continents — Europe, Asia, Africa, Oceania, and the Americas, in case you were wondering. At the same time, they were required to learn to prepare a range of traditional dishes and obtain proficiency in the 80 technical gestes (gestures) that comprise the base of classical French cuisine.   Inside the kitchens, I was struck by how focused and engaged but at the same time pretty relaxed everyone was in the midst of all the activity. I was already aware of the basic mandate to follow principles of sustainability throughout the food preparation process, and it was fascinating to learn more about how creatively they are being addressed here. 

Lead photo credit : Chef Thierry Marx with students in training. Photo: Cuisine Mode d’Emploi(s)

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A native New Yorker, Joy first visited Paris after her junior year in college, returning countless times over the years, before eventually putting down roots in the Marais. A veteran travel writer and editor, her original focus was on family travel, later turning to business travel. Having traveled to many corners of the globe, both independently and on assignment, it turns out that Paris is “the one”. How do you beat morning strolls along the Seine before the crowds arrive; weekend shopping at second-hand markets in undiscovered corners of the city; stepping back into history in museums, churches, or just out on the street; being constantly tempted by the delectable works of art showcased in patisserie windows, and so forth? There is always more to be embraced in Paris.