Hinsdale South students speak, cook and eat French
Head chef Laura Valcour shows students the chocolate that they will be using on their cream puffs. Hinsdale South High School's French class marked National French Week by preparing a full French menu at Chefs for a Day. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 14, 2013 4:48PM
WILLOWBROOK — French class usually is about learning to speak like French people. On Nov. 8, it also was about cooking and eating like French people.
For several years Hinsdale South teacher Courtney Mikulcik has celebrated National French Week with a day in the kitchen for her first- and second-year French students. This year, she moved the cooking day from the school cafeteria to the kitchen of Burr Ridge chef Laura Valcour of Chefs For a Day in Willowbrook.
“It’s pretty hard,” freshman Monique Lagessie said of the task of making cream puffs for the menu’s piece de resistance, the croquembouche.
Constructed of pastries covered in chocolate and held together with caramel, the French dessert is served at weddings and other special events.
Quiche Lorraine also was on the menu. Pie pro Harriett Barry of Burr Ridge, owner of It Tastes Like Love pie bakery, provided the crusts, but it was up to the students to fill them with traditional French ingredients.
“I don’t want to brag, but I’m a pretty good cook,” sophomore Marcus Burton said as he prepared his first quiche for the oven.
Mikulcik said the food prepared by the students was as authentically French as possible, using the best and freshest ingredients.
“That’s really the traditional French way of cooking,” she said.
That’s a rule of cooking that Valcour follows no matter what type of food is on the menu. Valcour has led the French cooking event at South every year. Mikulcik said the move to Valcour’s Willowbrook business was easier for their hostess and her students.
“It allowed us to prepare a more elaborate meal,” she said.