Cooking holidays and wine / Our chefs

Our French cook Marlene’s passion for sharing her family’s recipes


“It always blows me away that people on the other side of the world are producing my 92-year-old grandma’s recipes, I love telling her that.”

From the minute our French cook Marlene was old enough to hold a spoon she was old enough to cook – as far as her grandmother was concerned anyway.

“Mum was a single parent so she worked a lot, so my grandma cooked for the whole family – she’s an incredible cook,” Marlene said.

“And I helped her from when I was old enough to hold a spoon – luckily I did get to lick the spoon too!”

Marlene loved learning all the cooking tricks and techniques off her grandma, and kept cooking for her family and friends even when working full time as a wine buyer in Calais (North France).OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It was there she met her husband Marc, from Essex.

“He came in one day asking for a job, I took one look at him and gave him the job without an interview. And he might be from Essex but don’t worry, he’s not orange! ” Marlene said.

“Six months later we were married,” she continued.

In 2004 the couple moved to the pretty village of Anze, in the Lot-et-Garonne where they bought a beautiful 19th century French farmhouse. After 3 years of renovating, they opened it as a guest house where they ran tours around the local producers, wineries and markets.

“I cooked dinner for the guests and everyone always told me I should run cooking classes. I’d always wanted to do something more with food so we decided to go for it,” Marlene said.

Setting up the cooking holidays hasn’t always been easy for Marlene and Marc but due to their friendly approach and Marlene’s brilliant teaching methods the cooking courses grow in popularity year on year.

“It’s something I do with a lot of passion and I think it’s my excitement for cooking that makes guests who might be shy or nervous really come together and have a great time.

IMGP1131As well as having fun on the cooking holidays, Marlene is determined to prove French food doesn’t need to be shrouded in mystery.

“All the big chefs like to make French food sound so tricky and people think they could never attempt a soufflé or other French classics, but it doesn’t have to be like that. My favourite thing is seeing people master something with your guidance that they thought they couldn’t do – it’s a great feeling.” Marlene said.

“It might sound cliché but I do feel so privileged to get up every morning to do something I love. I open the shutters and see the sunshine and get to make delicious food with amazing people, I am very lucky.”

And Marlene’s family tradition of cooking lives on, with Marlene and Marc’s two daughters aged 4 and 7 already eager young chefs, keen to learn every culinary secret their family have passed down.

Want to know more?
Read a day in the life of Marlene
Discover Marlene’s much-loved cooking holiday or cookery shortbreak or French pastry cookery course for yourself
See what others have to say about Marlene’s holiday in recent reviews

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