Last year on my honeymoon one of my life long dreams came true. My husband and I took a cooking class right in the heart of Paris! With my sweet tooth it comes as no surprise that our lesson consisted of learning how to make one of my favorite desserts, the French macaron and one of Jon's favorites, the chocolate souffle.
This dream of mine started before I can even remember but has always been kept alive by movies like Julie & Julia and Under the Tuscan Sun. The romanticism of cooking in itself always draws me in but while in a foreign country where everything is new and thrilling, it's electrifying! My passion for making this dream come true went to new levels of excitement after watching the Netflix show, Chef's Table, in late 2017. If you've watched it you know the feeling of being fully immersed in the worlds and magic of the talented chef's from around the world that the show beautifully tells the stories of.
When I started to plan out our honeymoon in Europe I knew that I wanted to take at least one cooking class of some sort in Italy or France. Getting a referral is always my go-to way to find out the best of the best, so naturally, I posted on the Katie Dean Jewelry Instagram asking for recommendations. I got a ton of responses! Although this time I didn't end up going with any of the recommendations, it started me down the rabbit hole of Instagram tagged posts and hashtag searches (I'm sure you can relate to that, ha!) where I did find the one.
I knew instantly when I found Bénédicte Mesny of The Parisian Kitchen that this was the class I had been searching for and I was elated to discover it. Not only was her space where she holds her cooking classes beautifully and quintessentially Parisian, but it was quaint and cozy (no industrial style kitchens for us!). Exactly what I wanted for our honeymoon experience.
We had such a lovely experience with Bénédicte not only baking with her but hearing her story of how she started The Parisian Kitchen. I was so inspired by her delightful and cheery attitude, and her self taught skills that I decided to interview her for the KDJ blog. I hope you enjoy hearing about her wonderful story and feel inspired to follow your passion after reading it! And of course, I hope you get to experience a cooking class at The Parisian Kitchen next time you are in Paris. Scroll down for my six question interview with Bénédicte and pictures of what we baked and quickly consumed in our cooking lesson!
1. Hi Bénédicte! Please introduce yourself and what The Parisian Kitchen is!
I’m 35, French mum of three wonderful (& tiring ..) kids and founder of The Parisian Kitchen.
After about 10 years working in the luxury industry for big brands, I needed a change. Better than having a good job in a powerful company I wanted to live for my passion: cooking, and to be my own boss. This is how The Parisian Kitchen began.
I offer cooking and baking classes in English, mainly dedicated to people visiting Paris and looking for an authentic experience. The idea is to share a slice of Parisian life by going to a local market, cooking in my typical Parisian apartment and having lunch together talking about the French way of life.
2. Where does your passion for baking and cooking come from? And are you a classically trained chef or self-taught?
It think it comes from my passion for eating!
I’ve always loved trying new things and spending time in the kitchen with my mum. She was doing everything homemade with fresh products from the market. I don’t have any professional background in cooking. The idea of The Parisian Kitchen is not to become a chef by learning complicated techniques but to learn how to prepare good traditional French recipes that you can really reproduce at home.
3. When you first started the Parisian Kitchen how did you tell people about it and how did you get people signing up to take your classes?
Starting The Parisian Kitchen was a hard decision as I was quitting a very good job for something very insecure… So I was a bit scared of peoples reactions. I waited for everything to be ready and to have my first blog post before I shared my new career with all my friends and family.
The best tool to talk about my concept was Instagram! Even when I didn't have a lot of followers in the beginning, it was a great way to connect with other influential people that would share with their community. I’ve met amazing people that really helped me, and I’m so thankful for that.
I also connected with travel agencies, looking for more confidential and private experiences.
And after a few months, Tripadvisor became the most important tool to get new people signing up to take my class. Reviews really helped and I think now most of my participants discover The Parisian Kitchen through Tripadvisor.
4. What has been the most successful marketing tool for your business?
I don’t think about one specific marketing tool. I would say as soon as you have a good offer, image and communication are the most important. Because even if you offer the best service, if people never hear about it you’ll never have any clients. So the most challenging thing for me was to keep on sharing my concept and being active on social media. The good thing is that nowadays you don’t need to invest a lot of money in communication and marketing, you can touch a large public thanks to social media and influencers and this is very efficient. This is a fantastic opportunity for small brand and new business.
5. What’s your favorite recipe to make and share with others?
The most basic one! I have a lot of recipes to share but this one is so easy that I’m sure people will give it a try! I do it with my little ones and it’s a classic for us (I use salted butter): My Very First Easy Chocolate Cake
6. Any advice for up and coming entrepreneurs and how to make a living in the culinary field?
Be passionate! When I first thought about The Parisian Kitchen I felt a bit groundless because I was not a professional cook. But with strong determination and a lot of work, everything is possible! Cooking is to me more about feelings and sharing than techniques.
Follow along with Bénédicte & The Parisian Kitchen
*All pictures by my amazing husband, Jon Tam