I recently found La Pitchoune: Cooking in France on the Discovery + channel quite by accident.
My heart stopped!
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My Love for Julia Child
I’ve always had a place in my heart for Julia Child.
Owning a signed copy of one of her cookbooks since the late 80s has been one of my claims to fame. It’s a very cherished possession.
I also own vintage copies of “Mastering The Art of French Cooking Volume 1” and “Mastering The Art of French Cooking Volume 2”
I watched her cooking show “The French Chef” and I had a few favorite recipes of hers that I’ve made my own. My favorites are French Onion Soup and Beef Bourgignon (fancy beef stew)
Finding out more about Julie and Paul Child became an obsession after I watched the movie “Julie and Julia”.
Now I was really fascinated and I wanted to know more about what Julia’s life was really like.
I poured over everything I could get my hands on and really studied Paul Childs’s photography. I read the biography of Julia Child “My Life in France” by Alex Prud’homme, her grandnephew. Paul Child was brother to Alex’s grandfather’s brother. Julia was very close to Alex. I wonder if it’s because he has a very strong resemblance to her beloved husband Paul.
La Pitchoune which means “The Little One” was Julia’s home in the south of France. She and Paul built it in 1966.
It was the cottage they created on land owned by Julia’s dear friend and collaborator Simone Beck. It was a get-away for Paul and Julia to escape the fame of her cooking show in America.
The cottage is a modest home that they nick-named “La Peetch”. It is in the south of France in the French countryside of Provence.
The kitchen of La Pitchoune was built with extra-tall countertops because of Julia’s height. It also has the same pegboard walls as Julia Child’s Cambridge, Massachusetts kitchen which is now in the Smithsonian.
While living in this home, Julia and Simone worked on “Mastering The Art of French Cooking Volume 2”.
During their three decades in this home, the Childs entertained James Beard. M.F.K. Fisher, and the reclusive Richard Olney. All masters of French cuisine
The Home Changed Hands
After Paul Childs, Simca, (Simone. Beck) and her husband, Jean Fischbacher had all passed away, the home no longer held the same charm for Julia.
In 1992 she turned the keys of La Peetch back over to the Fischbacher family.
When the home passed back to the Fischbackers, Kathie Alex (a friend of Julia’s) rented it to open a cooking school. She taught French food cooking classes in Julia’s former home. Ms. Alex eventually bought the house in the late 1990s.
When she was 75 years old in 2015 she put the house on the market.
“When you flip anything, you just have to have the courage of your convictions, particularly if it’s sort of a loose mass like this.“
Makenna Held is a native of Colorado, Makenna defines herself as an American-Born Francophile. She visited France often when she was a child growing up. On the show, she appears to speak French fluently.
MaKenna has several things in common with Julia Child (she is very tall and like Julia, both call Smith College their alma mater) but she especially shares a love of cooking. MaKenna eventually was also trained at Le Cordon Bleu Paris, just like Julia.
A Smith College Alum Facebook Group was how she found out La Pitchoune, Julia Child’s former home was for sale and the rest is history!
Actually, it is a really long involved story. But not a part of this story!
The Courageous Cooking School
Makenna had a dream of opening a culinary school and yoga retreat at La Peetch.
How cool to be able to teach cooking in Julia Child’s kitchen.
Mckenna and her husband Chris Nylund are now the current owners of La Pitchoune – La Peetch “The Courageous Cooking School”. It is a recipe-free cooking school.
The basis of the week-long classes is truly cooking from scratch. Students take field trips to local markets for fresh seasonal ingredients.
Their cooking lessons are all about creating a new passion for cooking based on playing with food and flavors with no agenda.
For 5 years they have been holding classes at the school and in 2022 they filmed the TV show.
All the Players on the TV Show
Makenna met Kendall Lane on her first day of lessons at Le Cordon Bleu and they became fast friends. Kendall is the head chef at La Peetch.
Makenna’s husband Chris is the historian of the property and it’s so interesting that many of Julia and Paul’s personal items were still in the home. He shares the history and preserves the past at La Pitchoune. How fun to have him regale the stories of Julia & Paul with guests and students.
Kendall’s husband is also an integral part of the school. He takes care of the property and has also become a bit of a wine connoisseur.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention sweet little Magnolia the daughter of Makenna and Chris. She’s the cutest little human who gets to wander around La Peetch with Mom and Dad, chickens, cats, and dogs. What an idyllic childhood!
How This Show Fills My Heart
This is the kind of cooking I can wrap my head and arms around. I honestly don’t have a recipe for anything. I create recipes for you so that you can recreate things that I make in my kitchen. No Recipes – No Measuring Cups!
in reality, most things that I make don’t taste exactly alike twice. I don’t measure,
Working with the fresh produce and herbs from my garden is when I’m in my glory!
Learning how food works together with different, unexpected flavors is something the show embraces and I just love it.
They have taught me something about spices. Did you know that all the spices that we buy in a traditional grocery or big box store are old – really old? The best way to buy the freshest spices is to purchase single-origin spices.
This means that the spices come direct from the grower to the consumer. A source that I’ve found on the La Peetch site is Burlap & Barrel Spices.
My cart on their site is pretty full!
The Next Season
As I was researching more about MaKenna and the show, I learned that the next episode and next season that I can’t wait for is not going to happen. At least for now!
My heart is a little broken.
Makenna and the team are working on a YouTube channel show. I’ve signed up to be on the La Pitchoune mailing list so that I can be updated on any new ventures.
You can watch Season 1 on the Magnolia App, Discovery+, and HBO Max.
Be A Student at La Peetch
While the show only has one season, the “Courageous Cooking School” at La Peetch is still going strong.
I don’t know that it will ever happen for me but taking cooking classes in Julia’s kitchen is truly a bucket list adventure.
The cooking classes are a 6-day 5-night experience. The cost is $8,000 but given that you don’t need to take out your credit card for anything but souvenirs during the week is amazing. The best part of the adventure and worth every penny is learning to cook in Julia’s actual kitchen!!
The home is also available for a vacation rental. What an amazing place for a family reunion, a wedding, or anniversary, or just a very special vacation with friends.
The difference between La Pitchoune and La Peetch
It took me a while to figure out what the two different names actually meant. La Pitchoune is the name of the home which was nicknamed La Peetch by Julia and Paul. MaKenna and Chris now call the school La Peetch. As I mentioned I think I have that right??
Basically, the names are interchangeable!
My love for Julia, my love of cooking from scratch without a recipe, and finding this show have brought me full circle.
Peace and Love,
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