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…
It’s hard work, requiring some muscle!And a little help from your friends!Meanwhile, 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!
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…
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…
Over 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.