Page 0022

22 leggettfrance.com

FACING PAGE

A group of

enthusiastic cooks

on one of Reza's

workshops

INSPIRING PEOPLE

ABOVE

The dining room

with imposing

fireplace

adopted by her family and the

villagers of Condéon. We have

even inherited her wonderful

housekeeper. We consider

ourselves as custodians with

the role of bringing it back to its

former grandeur."

Chez Cartier is imposing

from the exterior. As you enter,

you see the beautiful staircase

in a room currently used for formal dining.

A magnificent fireplace

dominates the other main

reception room on this part of

the ground floor. Upstairs, four

spacious bedrooms are soon to

become ensuite.

The working area runs

across the back spine of the

house. At the far end, a door

leads to an adjoining barn,

complete with original copper

stills. This will be restored to

provide the perfect backdrop

for aperitifs and wine tasting.

The barn itself will house two

more ensuite bedrooms.

As for any leading chef, the

kitchen is essential. What was

once a series of dark rooms

has become one of the most

enviable kitchens in south west

France. Reza was emphatic

about his needs: masses of

light, and room to teach. Walls

were knocked through, and

doors created to open out onto

a garden destined to burgeon

with roses and honeysuckle.

Light reflects around the

white kitchen, which has darkgrey

composite stone worktops.

Eight cookery course guests can

be seated around a mammoth

demonstration area. They are

fed and entertained by Reza as

he distills complicated courses

into simple, bite-size pieces.

Individual cooking areas

enable participants to make the

dishes under Reza's tutelage.

He dances from one station to

the next and dispenses expertise,

encouragement, charm and

delight in the food - in equal

measures.

Recently returned from

filming his latest TV series, Reza

bubbles over with enthusiasm

as he explains the different

cuisines and techniques he

sampled in Thailand and

Vietnam. "One highlight was

cooking glass paper pancakes

in Vietnam under the watchful

eye of an 80-year-old lady. She

makes hundreds each day. My

attempt to make just one was

greeted with much laughter."

Chez Cartier is in cognac

country, south of Barbezieux

- the capital of Petite Champagne.

The vineyards provide

grapes for Hennessy - an association Reza

hopes to feature in

future courses. The St Emilion

vineyards are not far away,

making a perfect backdrop for

Reza's cuisine.

At the moment, he offers

one-day courses, which include

a three-course lunch. Demand

is growing, with participants

coming from the UK and local

area. Overseas participants are

currently accommodated at

exclusive local B&Bs.

Longer-term plans include

residential cookery courses,

which will, according to Reza,

take the experience to another

level. "We aim to run several

courses each week over most

months of the year. Each will

offer something new." The

property will also be used for

private catering, concerts and

other artistic events.

But perhaps the most enjoyable attraction

at Chez Cartier is

sitting around the formal dining

table of this beautiful home,

eating food with the charming

and witty hosts.

Reza Mahammad runs

day-courses at Chez Cartier

during most months of the year.

For more information:

www.chezcartier.com

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