Welcoming Willy Wonka & the Sauce Wizard!

Autumn 2016 Newsletter
2017 – New Year, New Chef-Tutors

Chef Laurent JeanninExciting changes to the French House Party kitchen!

After pleasing guests for the past seven years with his gentle wisdom and exceptional teaching of haute cuisine at French House Party, Chef Robert Abraham has finally succumbed to semi-retirement and scaled down his tuition with us.

So we shall be seeing less of Robert, but more of our new chef-tutor Laurent Jeannin (right) – a sauce-maker extraordinaire who has joined the team to work with Jean-Marc Boyer in presenting our Cuisine in Brief and Gourmet Explorer courses.

Laurent greatly impressed recent cookery course participants with his culinary flair, enthusiasm and warmth of approach – as a quick look at our Trip Advisor page will illustrate.

More about Laurent later, but as if 2017 isn’t looking sweet enough, there’s another huge treat in store. Pay attention you chocoholics!


Chef Gregory LegrosYou know how they say that 90% of people say they love chocolate – and the other 10% always lie?

Well, if you’re among the honest 90% who admit to their sweeter-than-sweet tooth (eg. if your Miss World wish would be for world peace – and a chocolate bar bigger than your dog***) then our Spring residential course with a spectacular chef who has worked as Head Chocolatier and Pâtissier in some of the world’s very finest hotels will make you swoon.

Our very own Willy Wonka is Gregory Legros (left), whose 3-day workshops will be devoted purely to creating the most amazing desserts and chocolates. And since this course takes place just before Easter, it’s bound to be choc-full of eggs too.

If you want a Golden Ticket to attend this all-inclusive weekend course, read more about ‘Just Desserts’ with Gregory below.

Note: Oompa-Loompas need not apply 😉

*** A dog the size of, say, a chocolate Labrador…


Creative Writing and Song Writing

The pens and notebooks were out in force  in July when our two Creative Writing courses were closely followed by Dean Friedman’s Songwriting course.

Dean travelled, as usual, from his home in New York, putting his punishing 40-city sell-out summer tour in Great Britain and Ireland on hold to hang out for a few days with songwriting enthusiasts who learned a thing or two from the master singer-songwriter.

DF class of 2016

DF class of 2016

It was Dean’s seventh year at French House Party and this summer we received a fair bit of media coverage – on Radio 2 especially, where Dean was a guest performer on the shows of Michael Ball and Claire Balding among others, and spoke about the joys of our songwriting course.

Sarah Hymas’s annual journey to France is somewhat shorter, not involving trans-Atlantic travel. She has been coming from Lancashire in the UK to operate her Creative Writing courses for more years than Dean – but the praise she routinely draws from participants seems to have escalated with every year that passes.

Sarah’s mentoring week “Pen &Think” – for writers working on specific projects – is scheduled a couple of days after Sarah’s tutored course so we introduced an option for anyone booking on both courses to stay free of charge for the two intervening nights. This applies in 2017 too, when the course dates are at the end of May and beginning of June.


For only the second time a Creative Writing course coincided with Bastille Day, which meant an excursion to watch the annual spectacle of a choreographed firework display over the battlements of the medieval castle in Carcassonne. Then the discovery that the Tour de France would be passing through nearby Mirepoix meant another thrilling expedition – this time to watch those cyclists hurtle past at close range.

Fireworks Carcassonne

After such excitement, it was good news that we had someone in the house trained in meditation and relaxation therapy: Sarah’s husband Floris offered short sessions after breakfast each day and everyone joined one or more of them. Floris will be with us again next year and will offer a similar optional programme.

Pen&Think 2016

2017 dates:

Creative Writing: “Write Like No One’s Watching”: Monday May 29 to Saturday June 3.
Creative Writing: “Pen&Think”: Monday June 5 to Saturday June 10.
Songwriting with Dean Friedman: Friday July 28 to Monday July 31.
Dean Friedman in Concert: Saturday July 29


Laurent Jeannin Our new Chef-Tutor Laurent Jeannin modestly claims to be something of a whizz when it comes to sauces.

Could that be because he was born in France’s ‘capital of gastronomy’ Lyon, where his culinary education and training came from a number of Michelin-Star chefs?

Then again, maybe the later experience of running his own restaurants or being Head Chef in Vienna, Cannes, Florida and North Carolina gave him valuable insight into making the sort of food which draws rounds of applause.

Last month Laurent joined our own regular Michelin-Star chef Jean Marc Boyer to teach on a French House Party Gourmet Explorer course and he delighted our guests with his talent and good humour. Not to mention his wizardry with sauces.

Again and again, guests booking with us have declared that French sauces are high on their list of learning ‘wants’, so Laurent’s specialist and unusual sauces went down a treat during his first time with us: the fabulous coffee sauce with guinea fowl and the out-of-this-world grapes-enhanced sauce he served with quail were to die for.

Below are some photographs of Laurent and recent participants.



What does the celebrated Sandy Lane Hotel in Barbados have in common with French House Party?

Greg with chocsWell, the most important connection is Patisserie Chef and Chocolatier M. Gregory Legros who will tutor our special ‘Just Desserts’ weekend from Friday 31 March to Sunday 2 April, 2017.

The 3-day all-inclusive course will be as its title suggests, the sole focus being cakes, puddings, patisseries, macaroons, cooking with chocolate, hand-making your own chocolates – and much more – with a specialist tutor with an international reputation.

Gregory Legros was six when he decided to become a chef and this ambition remained with him, but after his chef’s training he centred his gaze on patisserie, spending a further three years under the tutelage of an inspirational pastry chef. “He was my mentor, teaching me the solid basics which enabled me to fly by myself,” says Gregory.

And fly he did. After a decade spent working in various Michelin restaurants in France, including Michel Rostang in Paris, La Bastide Sainte Antoine in Grasse and Le Majestic on the Croisette in Cannes – a historic luxury hotel built in 1926 which is teeming with movie stars during the Cannes Festival – Gregory left his country to live and work abroad.


Greg spreading chocBetween 2004 and 2015 he worked in some of the most prestigious restaurants in the world’s leading hotels, among them the SkyCity luxury 5-star in New Zealand, Intercontinental’s grand hotels in Vietnam, the breathtakingly elegant Chedi Muscat in Oman and in recent years the legendary Sandy Lane in Barbados where he was Executive Pastry Chef until 2015.He decided to leave Barbados and return to the Languedoc with his wife and small son so that he could put down roots close to his family and create his own chocolate ‘laboratory’ and patisserie enterprise. And now he is going to share his phenomenal skills with French House Party course participants.

The all-inclusive cost of ‘Just Desserts’ will be £595 per person and there will be a three-hour hands-on session on each of the three days. The course begins with lunch on the Friday and ends after lunch on the Sunday. As with all our cookery courses, the price includes full board, wine with meals, a visit to a nearby market and airport transfers.

The provisional plan…

DAY 1: Chocolate workshop:
Chocolate décor for dessert and cake
Easter chocolate showpiece dessert
Chocolate bonbons

DAY 2:  French Plated Desserts:
Spring fruit gratin,
Mascarpone ice cream
Dark chilli cream
Grué nougat
Cocoa biscuits in Chocolate balls

DAY 3: Easter Chocolate Cakes:
Chocolate hazelnut cake

Does all this sound utterly brilliant? I should cocoa!!

Contact enquiries@frenchhouseparty.co.uk to learn more about this exciting all-inclusive weekend.

Dates: Friday 31 March – Sunday 2 April, 2017
Cost: £595 per person sharing room for 2