Little Chefs in Paris

The animated film ‘Ratatouille’ inspires children to explore the culinary joys of Paris.

A rat named Remy may have inspired the world’s next great chef. The Oscar-winning film Ratatouille, which follows the culinary adventures of a foodie rat in the kitchen of the Parisian restaurant Gasteau’s, has opened the eyes of kids to the delights of fine food. Thanks to Remy, little fans of the film have become aspiring little chefs and little foodies themselves. Snack time (for better or worse) may have some kids turning up their noses at ants on a log in favor of a perfect pairing of roquefort and grapes. To encourage your budding gourmet, a trip to Paris offers ample opportunities for culinary exploration for kids and parents alike.

Cooking Classes

In the film, Remy has to rely on the legendary cookbook of Chef Gusteau to teach himself how to cook, since being a rat, acceptance at a culinary school is out of the question. For human children, however, there are schools throughout the city offering cooking classes for every age group, allowing them to experience firsthand the joys of the kitchen. And—bonus for parents—you’ll get a couple of hours to have an adults-only lunch in Paris.

Each month The Ecole Ritz Escoffier offers its “Marmiton” workshop for children ages 6-11. The focus changes with each class, ranging from seasonal vegetable millefeuille (a layered puff pastry) to rose macaroons. Kids put on a full chef’s outfit (including a toque blanche, the iconic white hat that Remy used to hide under) and receive a cookbook, a diploma and a class photo. English translation is available, but book early as classes fill quickly.

The venerable Le Cordon Bleu Paris, holds “Les Petits Cordons Bleus” workshops for children 8 to 12 years old on select Wednesdays and Saturdays in English or French. Under the instruction of a cuisine or pastry chef, each little chef prepares a recipe, step by step, to take from the lesson and share with their parents after the lesson.

Another option, “Les coulisses du Chef,” are cooking workshops organized by Chef Olivier Berte, who spent years as a manager at several Parisian restaurants before returning to the kitchen. His Wednesday classes are open to children; each two-hour session concentrates on a different creation, from mousse au chocolat to tarte aux fraises (strawberry tart).

Street Markets

Remy basks in the discovery of new food and ingredients. Before arriving at Gusteau’s, he has to swipe morsels of the food he loves from the kitchen of the country house he and his family live in—or dig them out of the garbage. Thankfully, families visiting Paris have a more savory outlet for exploring the city’s tasty treasures—Parisian street markets.

Throughout the week, markets provide an array of seasonal foods in just about any and every arrondissement (district) of the city and are the best way to explore the food culture of the city. The Paris Visitors Office provides a list of the locations and schedules of different markets: no matter where you’re staying, there’s likely to be one right around the corner. Since checking out the many fruit and vegetable stalls can be tiring for little ones, pick up some picnic provisions and head to the nearest park for lunch. Or, take a break at a nearby crepe stand. A simple, warm crepe filled with Nutella is sure to satisfy even the most discerning young (and old) palate, reinvigorating everyone for further exploration.

Dining En Famille

Of course, no visit to Paris would be complete without dining in a restaurant, complete with aproned garcons and cheese plates, but finding a suitable place for kids can pose a challenge. Try to research your options before you go, or ask at your hotel if they have recommendations for your quartier. If you’re exploring the city and having difficulty finding a place suitable for children, look for a children’s menu and other families dining, good indicators the restaurant is hospitable to all age groups. Also, brasseries, the casual café restaurants that are so ubiquitous in Paris, tend to be more family-friendly and have more menu choices that appeal to kids.

If you want a more detailed, personal itinerary, check out Edible Paris. All you have to do is let founder, food critic and cookbook author Rosa Jackson know what you’re looking for and she’ll create a personalized itinerary including restaurants, markets and specialty shops.

Also, on weekends two-star Michelin Chef Guy Savoy offers the “Découverte-des-Saveurs,” menu at his Le Cap Vernet restaurant (82 Avenue Marceau), designed to introduce children to the more delectable elements of food. Near the Arc de Triomphe, children will taste firsthand what inspires Remy so much.

While the whole family is sure to enjoy the delicacies of Parisian restaurants, shops and markets, if you find the culinary adventure has perhaps gone a bit too far, return to something simple, as Remy does to impress the food critic Anton Ego. A simple ratatouille reminds the embittered critic of a warm childhood moment and the joy of good food. Wherever you may be, a croquet monsieur (hot ham and cheese sandwich) or a plate of pommes frites (french fries) are simple, delicious choices sure to delight the child in all of us.

Destinations: Paris

Themes: Culinary, Family Travel

Activities: Cooking Classes, Eat

User Comments

Great and fun dessert class in Paris Lot of fun, small group... In English only.

Thanks for the posting, came across another interesting site and would like to share it with other moms – _cooking/index.php helps you teach your children to cook and information on the numerous benefits enjoyed by moms who encourage their kids to cook. Check it out as there are loads of healthy recipes and easy and fun online cooking classes which you could enjoy with the help of your kids.

no spam Can't wait to take my daugher

Cooking schools The cooking schools are a source for learning more about extraordinary cooking classes to the enthusiasts. Students learn to cook exotic cuisines with variety of fine ingredients including herbs and spices.

Sweet Taste I can picture the many little people in my life getting a kick out of this experience and will definitely pass it on to their parents; on a side note, I just realized you can click on photos to make them larger and that other articles include mini slideshows! If you have any other photos of these workshops, please add :)

Fabulous Idea! I'm already looking forward to taking my son (still an infant...but soon will be six years) to France to partake in one of the cooking classes. What an experience that would be! And the best part?? My husband and I could sneak off to a wonderful restaurant- sans enfant!