La Closerie in Dijon proposes a monthly cookery workshop organised by the restaurant’s own gourmet chef. I seized the opportunity to learn the best techniques of the culinary arts during a lesson with Arnaud Riandet in the kitchens of Maison Philippe le Bon.

A three-hour introduction to gourmet cooking

At 8.45 am, I was at the restaurant of the 4-star hotel on Rue Sainte-Anne, a stone’s throw from the palace of the dukes of Burgundy.

There were about ten of us. We put on our aprons, ready to learn to concoct a starter and main dish along the lines of the monthly theme: “how to cook fish”.

We had three hours to prepare the dishes suggested by our chef: ceviche of sea bream followed by coley loin with espuma of chorizo.

Feeling very lucky to have received that voucher for Saint Valentine’s, I rolled up my sleeves and listened carefully to the instructions in the hope of reproducing these recipes at home!

The 15th-century backdrop of a former private mansion

We were privileged to have the venue all to ourselves as it had been reserved for our group of trainees that Saturday lunchtime. We worked in a warm and friendly atmosphere and the mood was relaxed when it was time to taste the results.

The establishment comprises three 15th-century private mansions and a magnificent Gothic courtyard where we enjoyed the sun’s rays and a well-deserved aperitif: a kir royal, of course!

Then we were shown to an enormous dressed table in the dining room under the watchful eye of Philip the Good and Duchess Isabelle. The Burgundy stone, the floor tiles and the exposed beams seemed to dialogue with the red gleam of the armchairs and suspended ceilings adorned with huge Art Deco chandeliers.

I felt relaxed and proud of my culinary creations, and couldn’t wait to taste them in the company of my fellow trainees and our chef at the top of the table.

Time to taste our creations!

The sea bream ceviche that we made as a starter is raw fish marinaded in citrus fruit and sprinkled with fresh herbs. It was delicious!

The flavour of the main dish, loin of coley served with sweet potato mousseline, was amazing, spiced up by the chorizo espuma, a light mousse presented in the plate using a chantilly siphon.

We made the most of that pleasant experience, prolonging our discussions on culinary arts and sharing cookery tips. The Burgundy wines selected by the sommelier helped me understand the importance of matching food and wine to enhance our enjoyment of the dishes. We finished our delicious meal with traditional marmelade “nonnettes” made by the patissier of Maison Philippe le Bon.

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