My favourite piece from yesterday’s Sunday Times was an interview with new cookery sensation Rachel Khoo in Style magazine.
Rachel is the hotly-tipped young chef whose gorgeous-looking cookery book, The Little Paris Kitchen, hits the bookshops this week. Not only that, from March 19 we’ll be able to see her in a six-part BBC2 series of the same name.
But the reason the feature caught my eye in the first place was that Khoo’s career took off after she moved to Paris from Croydon six years ago to work as an au pair. When the art and design graduate arrived in Paris she couldn’t speak a word of French and didn’t have any culinary expertise. Now look at her. She used her earnings from her au pair job to pay for her cordon bleu training and at 31 is an established food stylist, writer and cook. From her tiny Parisian kitchen she whisks up delicious delicacies like potato and pear gallette with Roquefort and cassoulet soup with duck and Toulouse sausage dumplings.
It can’t have been easy starting a career from scratch in an unfamiliar city, and she admits that it was “difficult and lonely” for the first two years. I can well imagine. I was an au pair in Paris for a few months when I was 18 and even though the family I worked for was lovely, it was tough. I remember wandering around Ile de la Cité and Notre Dame on my day off, not knowing a soul and having to fend off leery old men who said they wanted to paint my picture. Hmmm. A likely story.
Now I’m worrying about my daughter, who’s studying French at university and will be off to live in Paris soon. But if I got by with my hopeless French and Rachel Khoo made such a stunning success of her move, then I’m sure she’ll have an amazing time. And return with impeccable French too…