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Friday Feature:

Valerie's French Kitchen, Minneapolis

Next time we have a pandemic, I'd like to be quarantined in Valerie's French Kitchen! Valerie Faure's cooking is inspired by both her French upbringing and her travels throughout the world. She knows the classics, but also likes to play with different flavors and cultural influences. Her passion for bringing family and friends together around a table is indeed inspirational.

Where did you grow up in France?   

I grew up in the South of France, in a small provincial town north of Toulouse, until I was 7 years old. My family then moved to the Ivory Coast where I lived until the end of high school. However, we would come back home every year for the summer holidays, and would spend most of our time in a small village near Béziers in the Languedoc region. This is where my Dad is from originally, and where the family home is.

What is there to see and do in your area?  

After some recent archeologic finds, Béziers has now been named the oldest French city. At the top of the old city, stands the beautiful Cathedrale St Nazaire with a gothic style. I highly recommend climbing the stairs to get a wide and gorgeous view of the city and Canal du Midi. Béziers resembles a typical Spanish town with a wide walking path in the city center - les Allées Paul Riquet- very similar to las Ramblas in Barcelona. Another interesting sites in the city is “les 9 écluses de Fonseranes”, (water locks) on the Canal du Midi

Béziers is well located geographically and there are many sites to visit besides the city itself. If you go west, towards Toulouse, you will pass the famous Cité de Carcassonne which is just over an hour away, and definitely worth a visit. It is a medieval fortress located within the city of Carcassonne, and overlooking the town. It is over 2500 years old and very impressive.

If you go east, only 16 minutes away from Béziers, Pézenas is a charming small town to visit.

You can venture through cobblestone streets and hidden little squares filled with local artisan shops offering one of the kind objects, art and local produce.

The city offers an incredible architectural patrimony showcasing beautiful “hotels particuliers” and “maisons de maître” (mansions)

And since we are by the Mediterranean Sea, I cannot forget the smaller cites by the coast offering beautiful beaches (Valras, Sérignan and Sète to name just a few)

What are the regional specialties in your hometown?  

The region is known for the famous Cassoulet de Castelnaudary (near Carcassonne) a bean-based dish with sausage and duck confit.

The oysters from Bouzigues are also a must, as well as the rouille de sèches, which is a dish made of cuttlefish cooked in a tomato-based sauce and finished with an aioli, (a garlic mayonnaise) to give a very smooth texture.

Do you have favorite restaurants you want to share?

Not really as we usually cook at home!

Do you have any special family recipes?

Every summer when the family gets together in the family summer house, we cook a big paella outside on the grill. Everyone participates and adds “son grain de sel”! (their own touch)

What do you do now? 

I am now working as a Personal Chef and Caterer in Minneapolis. I offer 3 services::

- Catering dinner and cocktail parties

- Personal Chef services

- Cooking Classes

(Be sure to click through all of the photos in the slideshow below - yum! - Traci

When you go back to France, what is a “must” for you - see, do or eat!

We live in a small wine region and I enjoy taking some walks in the vineyards. I love to look at nature and see the grapes slowly maturing under the Mediterranean sun!

Do you have any other advice or travel tips for Americans going to France?

I think that it is important to do a bit of homework before you go. Knowing what to see and do in the region you are visiting makes it a lot easier.

Don’t be scared to go off the beaten track and explore small villages which are very picturesque and authentic.

Many of the French in that region may not speak fluent English, however if you show them you are trying to speak their language, they will be very friendly and try their best to communicate!

Book your next catering event, private dinner or cooking lesson:

Very good advice, Valerie! Merci mille fois!

I am looking forward to booking my next dinner party with Valerie's French Kitchen! Profiteroles are sure to make it on the menu!

A très bientôt !


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