I accompanied my grandson (17 yrs old) to Brittany so that he could attend Chef Poul's class. I joined them each day for lunch and dinner to enjoy the fruits of other labors. The meals were expertly prepared and presented. I arrived most days a little early so that I could take advantage of the Internet. I could overhear Chef Poul talking and teaching. As a retired school administrator, I am keenly aware of "best practices" of teachers. Chef Poul exhibit all of them. He had the students learning culinary skills with hands on experiences as well as teaching them subtle "soft" skills like presentation, setting the table with proper utensils and glasses, added touches of flowers, etc. But the thing I enjoyed most listening to him was his support of their efforts. Watching them skin a skate for the first time and gaining confidence with each stroke of the knife (yes, they were taught the proper knife for each particular task) and then to sit down a few minutes later to a great meal was an adventure greater than any I ever expected. The atmosphere of the classroom/kitchen was so warm and inviting. By the way, he constantly had them cleaning and putting away. There was never a messing look to the area to interfere with the next task. He helped them see the beauty of planning in the morning for not only lunch but things needed to be done a head of time for the evening meal so they never seemed rushed or off schedule. It takes a master teach to make it seem so easy and enjoyable. If you limit me to one adjective about my observations over the week I would choose, Calm.
Chef Poul also arranged for us to rent a 2 bedroom gite within walking distance of the school. My experience as an observer and official taste-tester makes me want to return as a student. I have a friend that want to go so you may get another review from me next year. Highly recommend the school and the gite run by Sharon and Dean.
If you're looking to learn to cook wonderful food in France then look no further. I have just returned from a delightful week learning to cook delicious food under the expert tutelage of Poul.
When researching my trip I wanted a school where I would learn a variety of dishes (including starters, mains, sides and desserts), would be taught in a relaxed environment and most importantly would be able to get 'hands-on' in the cooking experience. French Dining School delivered on all of these points, meeting and far exceeding my expectations.
Expect to cook a two course lunch and three course dinner every day (apart from Thursday where lunch is free for exploring!), as well as lots of other little treats along the way (think cheesy biscuits and tasty cookies!). Poul made sure we were always learning something new but still had time to taste, experiment and learn new techniques. I cooked many things that were new to me, and picked up some extra tips and tricks gleaned from Poul's many years working in restaurants.
Meals are enjoyed with the other students in Poul's lovely home, where the wine is free flowing and the conversation even more so. Poul also arranged lovely accommodation for me in Gaynor and Ray's local B and B which I also highly recommend.
100% recommended, amazing experience.
My wife & I did Poul's 5-day cooking course in mid-August 2013, along with 4 other lovely people we first met at the course (from Australia, US and Canada). We did the course in the middle of a 5+ week stay in France, including a couple of weeks in Paris and a drive across the country to the Swiss Alps, and it was our favourite part of the trip.
We both like to cook and entertain a lot, and this course was exactly what we needed. It was really hands-on and very intensive, with a lot of variation. Poul is a great teacher and clearly knows his stuff - ranging from appetizers to deserts, bread-making to 3-course meals, preparation to presentation. Both he and his kitchen are well organized and well suited for the task. The quality of the food he supplied as part of the course was first-rate, and the wine flowed freely once we stopped cooking and ate the results. It's amazing how many ways the French have found to use butter, eggs and cream in almost everything! Some of the things we cooked: lobster bisque, langostine-stuffed chicken legs with tarragon sauce, tiramasu, hot-smoked fish, remoulade sauce, several fish dishes, a veal roast, a leg of lamb, a couple of chicken dishes, panna cotta, homemade ice cream, pommes anna, mushroom risoto, sabayone sauce.
We prepared and cooked a substantial lunch and a full 3 course dinner every day. We gained weight and made friends, and came home with more skill and a whole new set of recipes. Poul is charming man, easy to learn from in the kitchen. He keeps everybody working during the prep and demonstrates the techniques. Then as soon as the aprons come off, he turns into the perfect host, raconteur and somelier. Did I mention the wine? We generally spent from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm preparing and eating lunch, then from 6:00 pm to about 11:00 pm with dinner, except one morning off to visit a local market in a gorgeous town 45 minutes drive away.
Kerrouet itself is a tiny hamlet in the middle of farm country. Poul's Kerrouet House is a lovely 400 year old stone house, fully modernized. There's maybe 30 or so homes in the hamlet (I say hamlet, because there are no stores of any kind there, it is smaller than a village) of which about half are occupied by French farmers, and half are part-time houses owned by English. Poul organized for Sue & I to stay in one of the vacant vacation homes, a perfect French country house, very well appointed, very good value, right at the end of his driveway. I believe he also organized lodging for the rest of the class, some in houses like ours, some in B&B type accommodations. You eat so much at the course that breakfast is not something you need worry about, except maybe a coffee and croissant. We walked through the farm lanes and drove to the nearby towns in our limited time off.
I can't recommend this enough, especially if, like us, you are a capable but self-taught home chef. Poul will add to your repertoire as well as to your skills and confidence. You can contact me at email@example.com if you have any questions.
Tom & Sue
"Alex Jones ( presenter BBC The One Show) came away saying how amazing the experience was – praise indeed from a (TV Film) team that are constantly travelling. If only every location was as easy and as nice as you were, we would be very lucky" Emma Davis Flic TV
"I couldn’t believe how warm, welcoming and entertaining Neil and Poul were. I immediately felt at home."
"The course was perfect for us (good food and wine lovers). We wanted a relaxed and fun environment to learn new things about cuisine."
"It was absolutely perfect for what we wanted and suited all our requirements." Heidi Houlihan "Extremely welcoming, hospitable, approachable and friendly."
"I feel much more confident to go home and cook these dishes and try new things. I can also adapt the recipes for my children."
"I made food that I didn’t know I could make "
"I cannot thank you enough for such a fantastic week. Great food, great learning and great company. Thank you, thank you".
"It was an absolute pleasure spending a week at Kerrouet House, thanks for having me, and sharing your stories, recipes, and cooking tips. I will definitely keep in touch and I hope to see you guys again in the not too distant future!!"
"Being now back in Berlin for almost a week,I can aleady say that I miss Kerrouet! Thank you for a wonderful week, the good instruction, interesting conversation and accommodation! I had a wonderful time, and already I have friends wanting to sign up!"
"We had such a lovely time with you at the cookery school in Kerrouet. We couldn't fault it in any way really! Both John and I have been delighting in retelling stories of our holiday- the yummy food, great company, lot of great conversation and laughter! I learned lots and John was so happy cycling by day and eating 'the best food he has ever eaten for a full week in a row' with lovely company."
"The best food I have ever tasted!"
Review from Fergus Byrne Editor
People and Food Magazine
The French Dining School
There are no signs for the French Dining School at Kerrouet House in
Brittany, so Danish born chef, Poul Erik Jensen, strolls up the road in his
chefs whites to find me and show me where to go. He has left the other
students chopping vegetables for the court bullion in which we will soon
boil lobsters for tonight's lobster bisque. A combination of road closures
and bad map reading has made me late and I make my apologies but quickly
realise that the French Dining School is a very relaxed affair. Within
minutes I'm learning to hold a chopping knife like a pen to create star
shaped carrots to use in one of our lunch courses - Artichoke Hearts in a
Citrus Sauce with Crispy Pancetta. We quickly make a French dressing to go
with the salad that will accompany our second course of fresh salted cod,
smoked for 7 minutes in a small oven top smoker. As we work Poul talks
genially with his students, demonstrating techniques and helping them to
prepare the food themselves.
After a lifetime in the food industry he is no longer driven by the need to
create cutting edge dishes and now concentrates on imparting his cooking
knowledge to students in an unpressurised and relaxed environment. Poul
caters for English speakers from all over the world, showing a wide range of
recipes that include a strong Danish influence. Over a three day course
students can cook dishes ranging from Mussel Soup with saffron, Veal fillet
with basil sauce to Pan fried Skate Wing, Asparagus Risotto or Panna Cotta.
On my visit we learned to bone chicken and compile and cook a delicious
Langoustine stuffed Chicken Leg with Tarragon Sauce, followed by Caramelized
Strawberries served with Cinnamon and an extraordinarily delicious poppyseed
ice cream. He is hoping to build his cookery school slowly and organically
and allow students to enjoy his courses without fuss or stress.
Although as a youngster he tinkered with the idea of becoming an electrical
engineer, the strong influence of an aunt, who had shown him the joy of
cooking, led him to decide instead to pursue a three and a half year
apprenticeship learning to become a chef. As his goal was to run his own
restaurant he decided to further his education in the industry by completing
another two and a half year apprenticeship, learning the art of restaurant
administration, from waiting tables to designing interior layout, before
opening the Ane Kirstine in Ebeltoft near Arhus in Denmark. Over eight
years he built it up to a Michelin star standard. He has also worked for a
time on the QE2 as well as a spell in Melbourne, Australia at Mietta's
before moving to England where he worked at Noble Rot in London and the
Wallbrook Club with Albert Roux. He is a member of Eurotoque, International
Federation Cuisinier Exclusive d'Europe and the Confrérie de la Chaîne des
At Kerrouet House, (the Bretons pronounce the 't'), Poul has opened his home
to allow students the opportunity to get a hands on cookery experience in a
holiday atmosphere. Unlike other residential cookery schools the focus is
not on certificates or qualifications but on the enjoyment of cooking
delicious food as simply as possible, whilst exploring the local area. Poul
runs five day and three day courses for a maximum of eight people, or will,
where possible, tailor make a course for a group if requested. Students can
find their own local accommodation or stay in one of two gites nearby.
The day begins at 10am with a run through of the day's menu and the
preparation of lunch and anything that needs to be done in advance for the
evening meal. After lunch students are free to explore the local area and
usually on Thursday Poul will arrange a visit to the nearby market in Dinan.
At 6pm students gather again in the kitchen to prepare a sumptuous four
course dinner to enjoy together at Poul's kitchen table. The atmosphere is
warm and friendly and strangers, brought together by a common interest, can
soon become friends. On my visit I met the delightful Nishimuras, a Japanese
couple now resident in California who booked their cookery course as part of
a ten day trip to explore Northern France. By the third day Mr Nishimura
seemed to have perfected the vegetable chopping equivalent of playing air
guitar, constantly practising his chopping technique without knife or
Kerrout House is about an hour's drive from St Malo and can be reached from
the UK on Brittany Ferries to St Malo from Portsmouth or Plymouth to
Roscoff. For information visit www.frenchdiningschool.com
or telephone Poul direct at +33 2963 44 381.