I’m Beeta, a Francophile and avid baker, mama to a stubborn little shih tzu, and a frequent visitor of France.
Growing up, I wasn’t what you would consider a Francophile. While Paris always seemed like a beautiful place to visit, my relationship with France was limited to three brief months of French class during a sixth grade elective.
I had enjoyed my French name “Natalie” and the delicate crepes we doused with powdered sugar, but because my school didn’t offer any further levels of French, I didn’t pay much thought to France or French culture after that.
It wasn’t until I was 20 and my best friend from college decided to study abroad in Paris that I was reacquainted with France. On a last minute whim, I decided to buy a ticket and visit her in Paris over Christmas break.
When I landed, I took the train from Charles de Gaulle airport to the 6th arrondissement Saint-Germain-des-Pres, where my friend had been living at the time. I found myself mesmerized as I climbed up the steps out of the train station and saw the cobblestone streets, looking picturesque and quintessentially French.
In front of me were Haussmanian buildings with ornate balconies and charming cafes on the bottom floor. I remember thinking that Paris looked even better than it did in the movies. More than anything, I could feel my soul awakening and my heart feeling lighter, like I was finally at “home” where I had always been meant to be.
If you talk to anyone who loves France just as much as I do, you’ll probably get a similar response. France isn’t just a vacation destination or a tourist site to cross off the bucket list. It’s one of those rare places in the world where you go to feed your soul.
And while you’re there, you’ll probably transform your taste buds too. You’ll gain an insatiable appetite for fresh baguettes and bistro classics like steak frites and French onion soup. You’ll find yourself stopping for an afternoon eclair and cafe creme, and get used to dinners that last longer than an hour.
Then, when it’s all said and done, and you’re finally back home, you’ll find yourself intolerant of anything less than what you experienced in France. The sad croissant in the coffee shop window or boxed dinners will taste bland and boring. They did for me, at least. That’s how I ended up cooking and baking everything I ate in France right at home.
While cooking and baking weren’t foreign concepts to me, making all of the French delights I had experienced was. Over the next several years, I worked on practicing and perfecting all of my favorite French recipes until they were delicious enough to satiate me in between trips to Paris.
And then, in 2017, my life took a big turn. The unthinkable happened; my father suddenly and unexpectedly passed away. The loss was devastating, particularly given how close my family and I were. My father and I had even been working together in his business the year before his death, so I had been spending time with him everyday.
When he was gone, I not only felt overwhelming sadness, but lost as to what direction my life was to take. Sure, I was still young, but if I had learned anything from his passing, it was that life is truly short.
So rather than spend my days spiraling into a depression, I picked up my whisk and put on my apron and got to what I love to do: spending time in the kitchen. My father loved everything I cooked and baked and had a habit of going around town telling anyone who would listen how proud he was of me and how talented he thought I was. At the time, it felt like the obligatory parental brag, but as I threw myself into the culinary arts more and built a business around my love of French food and culture, I could see I was helping others and providing joy in their lives too.
Over the next two years, I continued practicing the art of French cuisine and pastry, refining my entertaining skills, and building a business around what I loved. I could see the effect that adopting the French lifestyle had on my life.
I was spending more quality time with loved ones sharing my passion of good food with them. My body was appreciating all the home-cooked meals and fresh ingredients, and perhaps most importantly, I was feeling lighter in my mind and heart.
Many forget that cook and baking is actually a form of therapy. Like an artist with a paintbrush or a pianist with black and white keys, cooking and baking are more than just the entrée or dessert that you make. French cuisine and pastry, in particular, teach you patience, tenderness, love, and confidence. The kitchen can be a reassuring safe place after a long, hard day, and it can encourage you to stop thinking in the past or future and simply just be in the present.
The idea to start a culinary membership around French cuisine and pastry was sparked out of my desire to combine two great loves in my life: good food and France. Not only that, but I find that there is a lot to learn from the French when it comes to the way in which we approach life and the way we embrace community. The French are a very social society that treat food and time spent preparing and eating it as sacred.
My goal with The French Culinary Experience is to bring lovers of France and food together, and form a community that is there to support each other and delight with each other in a mutual love of the French lifestyle and the joy of creating a beautiful meal that can be shared with loved ones.
I’m so grateful that I can share everything I’ve learned and everything I love with people like you each and every single day. You are much appreciated and I hope that you find what you are looking for here.
With all my heart,