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Les Petits Chefs visit Nadège

Macarons ready to dry and macarons ready to fill at Nadege in Toronto on eatlivetravelwrite.comIt’s a GREAT Monday in cooking club when you get to have a macaron masterclass with Nadège!

For those of you not familiar with the Toronto food scene, Nadège Nourian is the chef and owner of Nadège Patisserie. She was born in Lyon, France, and is a fourth generation pastry chef. She’s worked alongside Meilleur Ouvrier de France pastry chefs in France as well as in world-renowned and Michelin-starred restaurants (notably in London at The Ivy). Luckily for Toronto, she opened her first store here in 2009 and her today operates 5 boutiques as well as an industrial kitchen where all their production takes place. She is a Toronto icon in the pastry world!

The Petits Chefs were lucky enough to work with Nadège in a special macaron masterclass this week – something they were completely over the moon about because they are always asking if we can make them (we can’t because of the school’s nut-free policy). Nadège uses the Italian meringue method so this was a learning experience for me too (I teach the French meringue method but have some experience in the Italian – always happy to learn more!).

We started out mixing our dry ingredients with some egg white and food colouring…

Making macarons - dry ingredients at Nadege in Toronto on eatlivetravelwrite.comIt’s hard work, requiring some muscle!Mixing egg whites into dry ingredients at Nadege in Toronto on eatlivetravelwrite.comAnd a little help from your friends!Mixing egg whites and food colouring into dry ingredients at Nadege in Toronto on eatlivetravelwrite.comMeanwhile, Nadège showed the boys how to heat sugar syrup to a specific temperature and mix it with egg whites and sugar, forming the meringue… The mixer was HOT!

Testing the Italian meringue temperature at Nadege in Toronto on eatlivetravelwrite.comAfter a little while, though, we saw the “bec d’oiseau” (indicating the meringue is ready to use):

Looking at the birds beak in meringue at Nadege in Toronto on eatlivetravelwrite.com(see – it does look like a bird’s beak!)

And then we got to work… Mixing the meringue and the paste of dry ingredients and egg whites is really hard work and I was glad we had lots of boys to work on this – many hands make light work!

Nadège showed us how…

Showing how to do macaronnage at Nadege in Toronto on eatlivetravelwrite.comAnd then left the boys to it!

Kids doing macaronnage at Nadege in Toronto on eatlivetravelwrite.com Kids making macarons at Nadege in Toronto on eatlivetravelwrite.com Many hands making light work of macaron batter at Nadege in Toronto on eatlivetravelwrite.com Macaron batter that is nearly ready at Nadege in Toronto on eatlivetravelwrite.com Checking macaron batter at Nadege in Toronto on eatlivetravelwrite.com(who knew how much fun this could be?)

Then another fun part – piping! I love how the boys tackled this with such great enthusiasm. The adults in my own classes approach this stage with trepidation because they’ve seen or heard that “it’s meant to be hard”. The boys have no such concept of this – they just assume everything’s going to work! Nadège showed us how…

Learning how to pipe at Nadege in Toronto on eatlivetravelwrite.comAnd the boys did a mighty fine job!

Kids piping macarons at Nadege in Toronto on eatlivetravelwrite.com Kids piping macarons on a template at Nadege in Toronto on eatlivetravelwrite.comThen we got to tap the trays from underneath to settle the little peaks on top down a little bit…

Tapping the macaron tray to remove peaks at Nadege in Toronto on eatlivetravelwrite.comAnd we almost lost one…

Tapping the macaron tray at Nadege in Toronto on eatlivetravelwrite.comWe didn’t bake these off (they need to dry for about 30 minutes and there was no time), but fortunately Nadège had some prepared ready for us to fill. We learned how to pair the shells…

Matching macaron halves at Nadege in Toronto on eatlivetravelwrite.com Matching macarons at Nadege in Toronto on eatlivetravelwrite.comAnd learned a different piping technique to fill them with ganache…

Kids filling macarons at Nadege in Toronto on eatlivetravelwrite.comJust perfect, wouldn’t you say?

Kids topping macarons at Nadege in Toronto on eatlivetravelwrite.comWe also learned how to package them “à la Nadège” 🙂

Pretty package of macarons at Nadege in Toronto on eatlivetravelwrite.comOver the course of the afternoon, I noticed a couple of things: 1. The boys never had any concept of the fact that they were making something many adults consider impossible to make. They just got on with it. 2. Though all the boys’ macarons did not look as perfect as the ones above, they were so immensely proud of their work. Perfection is overrated. 3. I’m pretty sure all those boys went home and told their parents they wanted to make macarons. Because they know they can.

Cooking with kids is SUCH an important life skill to teach and I can’t stress enough how much more than food they are learning about. I recently had the pleasure of speaking with The Globe & Mail about my work with the cooking clubs and with my students in French class all about cooking with kids. Read my thoughts (and see what other amazing initiatives there are popping up all across the country) here.

We’re so grateful to Nadège for offering her time and expertise to the boys this week. More than macarons, the boys went away with a confidence in the kitchen that is such a gift.

Find out more about Nadège.

Take a pastry masterclass with Nadège!

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