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Book Talk : The French Ingredient

With Jane Bertch

  • Tuesday, April16 at 6:30 p.m.

  • Free admission

  • On Site • Enter via 54 W. Chicago Ave

  • In English


Registration closed but Walk-ins Welcome!

Meet the author of an inspiring and delicious memoir telling the story of an American woman who had the gall to open a cooking school in Paris—a true story of triumphing over French naysayers and falling in love with a city along the way! 

“An engaging, multilayered story of a woman navigating innumerable cultural differences to build a life in Paris and create her dream: to establish a French cooking school.”—David Lebovitz, author of My Paris Kitchen.

Book sale and books signing with the author after the talk. Jane Bertch in conversation with Nina Winston, Travel and Tourism specialist and consultant.

When Jane Bertch was seventeen, her mother took her on a graduation trip to Paris. Thrilled to use her high school French, Jane found her halting attempts greeted with withering condescension by every waiter and shopkeeper she encountered. At the end of the trip, she vowed she would never return.

Yet a decade later she found herself back in Paris, transferred there by the American bank she worked for. She became fluent in the language and excelled in her new position. But she had a different dream: to start a cooking school for foreigners like her, who wanted to take a few classes in French cuisine in a friendly setting, then bring their new skills to their kitchens back home. Predictably, Jane faced the skeptical French—how dare an American banker start a cooking school in Paris?—as well as real-estate nightmares, and a long struggle to find and attract clients.

Thanks to Jane’s perseverance, La Cuisine Paris opened in 2009. Now the school is thriving, welcoming international visitors to come in and knead dough, whisk bechamel, whip meringue, and learn the care, precision, patience, and beauty involved in French cooking.

Jane Bertch has spent more than two decades living and working in Europe. In 2009, she started La Cuisine Paris, which has become the largest nonprofessional culinary school in France. She holds a BA in English, an MA in labor and industrial relations from the University of Illinois, and an executive MA from the French business school INSEAD. The French Ingredient is her first book.

Nina Winston made Chicago her home more than thirty years ago when she moved here from Boston. Her passion for travel, culinary experiences and learning from the places around us was sparked at an early age. France and Paris have been a central part of her life. In her current work as a strategy consultant and connector focused on travel and tourism, Nina draws on three decades of global experience working with destinations and their partners, including many years supporting Chicago’s tourism efforts. Nina received her Bachelor of Arts from DePaul University and earned a Master’s in Public Administration from Harvard Kennedy School. She is active with several local nonprofits across the city.

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