Marjorie Taylor, who founded The Cooks’ Atelier along with her daughter Kendall, visits her local farmers’ market constantly to find the best seasonal ingredients. For Taylor, a great meal always starts with inspiration from local growers and artisans. We asked the Burgundy-based chef to walk us through her typical market trips and offer tips on navigating our own local markets, too.
How often do you visit the market?
We go every chance we get, especially to the Beaune market on Saturday and Wednesday. The great thing about France is there are outdoor markets every day in every region. Heaven for a cook.
Who are your favorite vendors?
We have so many favorites, it hard to name just one. Top on the list is Madame Loichet, our vegetable purveyor. Yannick, our organic vegetable vendor at the Saturday market in Beaune. Monsieur Vossot, our favorite artisan butcher. Babette, the organic bread baker at the Saturday market and Yann, a young farmer who specializes in organic greens such as mezzuna and arugula, as well as goat cheese.
Do you buy everything you need at the farmer’s markets, or just produce?
Our passion is for the small artisan food producers so we purchase everything from the market or small local food shops (i.e., butcher, cheesemaker) or we visit the farm directly for fresh eggs, cheese and meat for our cooking classes.
Do the farmers markets in France differ from the ones in the US?
Yes, we think they do. Although we are really inspired by the current trend in the US to support local farmers and to purchase produce directly from the source, the purveyors that we highlight here at The Cook’s Atelier have passed their trade down to people in their families for generations. For example, Madame Loichet used to work with her parents as a young girl to bring produce to the Saturday market. She still maintains her table at the Saturday market in Beaune at 79 years of age.
What are you currently buying, and what do you look forward to buying for fall?
Heirloom tomatoes are a favorite here at The Cook’s Atelier. We are also stocking up on summer produce and canning and preserving for the cooler months. For fall, we are looking forward to mushrooms, winter squash and heirloom apples and pears.
Do you shop with a list in mind, or do you buy whatever looks the best?
We try to inspire our students to base their menu on what looks good at the market rather than have a specific recipe in mind. As a cook, we feel it is important to cook with the seasons and the focus should always be on the quality of the ingredients.
How do you develop the recipes for your classes? Is it all based on what is available at the market?
Yes, we always cook seasonally, based on what looks good at the market. That’s part of the fun, visiting the market and support the people who spend their lives growing good food.
What grows especially well in Burgundy?
Pinot Noir and Chardonnay of course. Our region is especially blessed with good soil. Almost everyone still has a potager (kitchen garden) and we are fortunate to have local farmers who raise heritage breeds of chickens, cows and pigs. In our potager we are currently growing heirloom tomatoes, zucchini, fava beans, leeks, green beans, beets, salad greens, carrots and an assortment of herbs.
What is your favorite part about going to the market?
The markets in France are a very social place. We love going to the market, visiting our favorite artisan producers, and seeing what they’ve just harvested. It’s wonderful to shop with the seasons and anticipate what’s coming up. For example, in early spring, white, violet and green asparagus, morels, green garlic, new potatoes, young peas and strawberries fill the market. In the summer months you’ll find heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, salad greens, peaches, plums, berries, melons and green beans. For fall, we look for apples, chicories, pears, wild mushrooms, winter squash and mustard greens. During the winter months, you’ll find assorted citrus, parsnips, persimmons and turnips. We enjoy stocking our larder in the summer months to enjoy a little taste of summer when it’s cold outside.
All photos courtesy of The Cook’s Atelier.