Le Foodist: Discover the culture of France through its food and wine

Fred Pouillot sharing his love of France through stories about food and wine. Photo credit: Le Foodist. 

Whether it's helping a village woman make spicy fish wrapped in banana leaves for a Diwali celebration in Bali or assisting a Japanese friend prepare Chirashi for her husband's birthday dinner, I've always been fascinated by how much you can learn about a country's culture through its food.

Fred Pouillot, a world traveler and French chemical engineer with a PhD from Georgia Tech, obviously feels the same way because it was the desire to share his culture with guests that served as the inspiration for Le Foodist, a recently opened cooking school in Paris. In Fred's words:

When I travel I love to meet locals, understand how they live and discover their culture. Whether by learning what people buy at their local market, how they prepare traditional meals - or by tasting the local products and sharing a meal of fresh, seasonal produce with fellow travelers and local people. 

Even though there are many schools offering market visits, wine tastings and cooking classes, Le Foodist creates lasting memories. During the two-hour course "Chardonnay Around the World", not only did we taste five different wines, including champagne, but the sommelier entertained us with historical anecdotes and stories about each one. Additionally, Stéphane provided us with a vocabulary to describe the visual aspects of Chardonnay (golden rather than yellow) and used a professional aroma kit to enhance our sense of smell. You wouldn't believe how challenging it is to identify specific scents, like pineapple, honey, butter and vanilla, when you get a whiff of them from an unmarked vial. Even though your brain recognizes the scent as a familiar one, it's difficult to retrieve the information from your memory bank without training. Yet, we all started to feel like pros after Stéphane's explanations and encouragement.

Stephane Bonnerot, Le Foodist's sommelier

While Stéphane regaled us with stories about Napoleon Bonaparte's fondness for Vin de Constance, the sweet, nutty dessert wine of South Africa’s Constantia region, and told us the story of how Chardonnay saved France, Fred recounted tales about the different cheeses that were paired with each wine. As a piece of young Selles-sur-Cher melted in my mouth, Fred explained that this luscious French goat cheese coated with edible ash originated in the Loire Valley. The young cheese's delicate flavor reminded me of spring flowers while the more aged one had an interesting peppery taste. My favorite was an aged slice of Comté, a mountain cheese similar to Gruyère that comes from the Franche-Comté region of France. Trying not to seem overeager, I hovered near the cheese plate and possibly helped myself to more than my fair share. I couldn't help it.

Trained as a professional chef at Alain Ducasse Formation training center in Argenteuil, Fred has created a delectable recipe. He started with a unique concept, added an impressive professional kitchen and topped it all off with an interior space tastefully decorated by Amanda, his English wife. I was so impressed by the Daring Pairings Wine & Cheese class at Le Foodist that I can't wait to return. Next time, I think I'll try their "Once Upon a Table" hosted dinners where fifteen guests from around the world share a 5 course gourmet dinner with matching wines and champagne while the host and sommelier animate the evening with intriguing anecdotes. Whether you're on your own or part of a group, it's sure to be a memorable way to spend a delightful evening in Paris.

In addition to Once Upon a Table hosted dinners and Daring Pairings wine and cheese classes, Le Foodist offers Sweet Stories patisserie classes, Travel & Chef cooking classes and market visits. Fred also told us that they have some exciting plans for the future so be sure to keep an eye on their website for updates.

If you're still trying to decide how to celebrate Thanksgiving in Paris, Le Foodist has organized a special lunch from 11:45 am to 2:30 pm on November 28. In addition to a delicious 5 course meal, there will be an introduction to wine tasting by a sommelier and stories shared about each dish. The theme for the stories will be giving thanks to the relation between intercultural exchanges and our foods. It's Thanksgiving with a French twist!

Le Foodist
59 rue du Cardinal Lemoine
75005 Paris

Paris Weekender's interview with Fred Pouillot of Le Foodist
Reviews of Le Foodist on Trip Advisor


  1. MK, you and your cheese obsession make me laugh.


    1. Joseph, As a Swiss-by-marriage, I hate to admit it but the Comté was amazing. In fact, that's probably why I had to keep sampling it. Up until that moment, I didn't know that the French could make such delicious mountain cheese. I thought that was strictly a Swiss skill! And, yes, I'm a little bit obsessed. But it's a good kind of obsession!

  2. Sounds like a great evening! And you can never pry me away from a cheese plate... :)

    1. I would never attempt to pry you away from a cheese plate, Gwan. I would stand right there next to you and eat my fill! Thanks to the posts that you used to do on French cheese, I know more than I used to about the different varieties!


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