Grenoble Life’s James Dalrymple is invited to a culinary session at Cook & Go, who explain all about this new “hands-on” concept for fine-dining takeaway.
Last week I had the pleasure of being invited to Cook & Go, part of an expanding chain of takeaway shops, but with a difference – the customers prepare the meals themselves. Under the charming stewardship of Lucie and Léa at Cook & Go Grenoble (8 rue Lesdiguières) I proudly produced two desserts: samosas with an apple and cinnamon filling, and a chocolate sauce to drizzle on top; and a moelleux (such an evocative word that, all the better for being untranslatable) of white chocolate and caramel.
For the less sweet-toothed among you Cook & Go offers a range of dinner menus which, under gentle supervision, you prepare yourself in-store, following recipes and weighing up ready-to-hand ingredients. It’s unfussy and fun, and you will be amazed how simple such apparently fine cuisine is. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, of course, and that you do at home, having reheated your creation according to printed instructions you take with you. I was particularly fond of the samosas, which I had previously only encountered in Indian dishes back home in the UK, and I am a sucker for apple and cinnamon – so that was a real winner!
While I entertained the Cook & Go team with my own idiosyncratic take on French – which such sessions are normally conducted in – Lucie and Léa are, however, fluent English speakers, so they can always help you out if you falter over your kitchen vocab. Moreover, you will come away with a shortcut to impressing your loved-ones, friends, relatives etc. with your culinary skills, but without actually technically cheating.
Wanting to learn more about Cook & Go, I also posed them a few questions …
Grenoble Life: Who are Cook & Go – tell us a little about yourselves?
Cook & Go: Cook & Go is a new concept which was born in Lyon five years ago. We now have eight shops and the one in Grenoble was established last summer at 8 rue Lesdiguières.
Cook & Go provides cooking classes to take away. It is actually more than a cooking lesson. Customers are really cooking their own meal and the chef stays by their side to give advice and make sure that they are having a good time. Sessions take between half an hour and an hour and a half. They can cook for the number of people they want and when they go home, they only have to put everything in the oven and respect the instructions given for the cooking. Cook & Go provides the recipes, the ingredients, advice … customers just have to cook, have a good time and they will enjoy their nice meal at home.
GL: Where does the concept come from?
C&G: The idea of providing cooking lesson to take away comes from a young French entrepreneur – Jean-Christophe Menz. He had all the qualities to be in charge of the company – the idea and all the steps were very clear in his mind – but what was missing were the cooking skills. He decided to go to the famous cooking school, Institute Paul Bocuse, to find a chef. He found Guillaume Schwendenmann, who believed in him and in his concept, and together they created the first Cook & Go, originally called “Comme des chefs” in Lyon. Five years later, we can count eight Cook & Go’s: three in Paris, two in Lyon, and one in Lille, Marseille and Grenoble, respectively. More will open soon in New York, Italy and other French towns.
GL: What has the reaction been so far?
C&G: We have been in Grenoble since last July and we are facing a real success. Thanks to Grenoble word of mouth, a lot a people have heard of our activity and come for lessons or to make gifts. Because we are young and open minded, we are very open to customer suggestions. On our Facebook account, we often ask people what they are looking for and sometimes we create menus or workshops because customers wanted them. We recently created workshops for children, as well as ones for making cupcakes, makis and foie gras. It has been a real success with expats, they really like learning about French cooking and learning how to make really French recipes such as foie gras.
We also work with companies thanks to the comité d’entreprise (work councils) which offer employees a lesson a month with discounts on our menus and on our shop.
GL: What do you like about the food from the Grenoble region and how does this influence Gook & Go?
C&G: All our menus are available in the eight Cook & Go shops. Each chef (one chef per shop or two for the big shops) create one recipe every month and the head chef picks four recipes to make the monthly menu. Of course regional food influences our menus: in February we had violet tartiflette. All our ingredients come from areas close by. We like working with local suppliers and we like quality fresh ingredients.
GL: What’s next for Cook & Go?
C&G: Cook & Go will go far … we are all working for it! We would like to be established in most big French cities and overseas. We really want to change the cooking habits and to introduce a new trend in the world of food. We hope that in the future, instead of going for fast food, people will come to Cook & Go to cook a healthy meal and have the pleasure to eat it at home. Cooking habits are changing very fast, we are moving towards a ‘homemade’ trend which is a very good thing for people’s health and for companies like us.