In this series of cookery lessons from BBC Maestro, Pierre Koffmann teaches the fundamentals of French cuisine through 24 of his best-loved recipes.
This post has been written in collaboration with BBC Maestro, although all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.
It’s Friday night. For the first time in 23 years, I am home, alone, child-free, and I can do anything I want with my time.
Party animal, me.
Who is Pierre Koffmann?
Living legend of the kitchen, Pierre Koffmann is one of only three chefs in the UK to have been awarded the coveted three Michelin stars at his restaurant, La Tante Claire, in London. He held these for 15 years.
Koffmann taught Gordon Ramsay, Marco Pierre White, Tom Aikens and Jason Atherton, amongst many other of the world’s top chefs.
Now, from the comfort of my own home, he’s teaching me too.
Classic French Bistro Cookery Lessons
This first video in the 25-video series is only a minute long. I’m instantly hooked and looking forward to the rest of the lessons.
The filming is very good quality, the pace is punchy and exciting, and Pierre’s dialogue is amusing and engaging. The food, as French food is wont to be, looks exquisite.
Yes, it’s going to be a good evening.
However, my ability to understand the French accent needs work. Subtitles are required.
In the first lesson, Pierre shows us how to make the classic French bistro recipe coq au vin.
I’ve made coq au vin. It was a family favourite for years, but I’ve never made coq au vin like this.
Pierre starts by teaching us how to make a bouquet garni. I always thought this was just fresh herbs tied into a bunch. Pierre’s bouquet garni involves wrapping and tying the outer layers of leek around celery and fresh thyme, parsley and bay.
He then shows us how to cut a whole chicken into pieces for the dish. This is followed by techniques to cook a garniture grand-mere, or ‘grandmother’s garnish’, comprising pearl onions, bacon and vegetables.
Pierre packs a lot into this first 17-minute video. He tells French food stories and explains the rationale behind the cooking techniques and his choice of ingredients.
I suddenly realised I don’t know how to cook, but I am genuinely excited to learn.
There’s always room to learn.
Pierre shows us how to make veal, chicken and fish stocks in the next three videos.
Although I’ve been making homemade stock for years, I still learned new valuable tips through these lessons.
I like his dialogue, his humour and his anecdotes, and I like how there’s no distracting background music. It’s cooking, teaching and learning just for the sheer joy of it.
Pierre’s lifelong passion for cooking shines through.
In Pierre’s Classic French Bistro Cooking series, he teaches us 24 classic recipes. These include quiche Lorraine, duck confit, Hollandaise and Bearnaise sauces, steak tartare and Bordelaise sauce with fillet steak.
Pierre’s signature dish is pig’s trotter stuffed with chicken mousseline, sweetbreads and morels. He also teaches us to make this recipe in this course. Marco Pierre White called this his ‘favourite dish of all time’. I’ve never willingly eaten a pig’s trotter, but I reckon I’ll want to after watching this video.
Each BBC Maestro course comes with a pdf of the course lessons. With Classic French Bistro Cooking, this pdf is 72 pages long, filled with full recipes and all of Pierre’s tips, tricks and techniques from the video series.
The course fee is well worth the pdf alone, I think.
What is BBC Maestro?
BBC Maestro is a platform for online courses taught by the most experienced creators in the world.
Through these courses, you can access the minds of some of the world’s most incredible creative talents. These include chef Pierre Koffman, children’s writer Julia Donaldson, comedian Sir Billy Connolly, filmmaker Edgar Wright and storyteller Alan Moore.
BBC Maestro’s digital tutorials allow you to learn from the experts from the comfort of your own home.
Beautifully filmed in 4K, each course offers several hours of content over 20-40 easily digestible lessons. Also included are extensive, well-presented course notes filled with hints, tips and exercises.
Each BBC Maestro course is available for a one-off fee of £80. This is for lifetime access. Participants can learn at their own pace and rewatch lessons as often as they like.
Each teacher personally crafts the courses to be intimate and informative experiences. They are equally instructional and inspirational.