Meet Member Marjorie Taylor, Chef/Owner of The Cook’s Atelier in Burgundy, France
Gosh, I have so many. If I had to pick only one, I would have to say spending a morning in the garden and then stopping for casual lunch with family and friends. On the menu, an heirloom tomato salad with Roquefort and fresh basil, a platter of radishes, sprinkled with fleur de sel, and a glass of chilled rosé.
What is your favorite “secret ingredient”?
How did you get to where you are?
It’s been an evolution. I started by culinary career in pastry but have always been drawn to the relationship between the farmer and the cook. I chose the route of the self-taught cook and apprenticed with chefs that I respected and worked my way up the ranks from pastry cook to the chef proprietor of a neighborhood restaurant and cooking school in the States with a small organic kitchen garden just outside the back door.
What was your “Aha” moment with sustainable food?
I’ve always been passionate about environmental issues, so as a cook, I was naturally drawn to the importance and philosophy behind sustainable food.
Why is sustainability important to you?
Sustainability is important to me because I feel we are all connected and food should be celebrated beyond the plate. We should support our local artisan food producers who practice sustainability to ensure these culinary traditions are preserved for future generations.
How did you transition from the U.S. to France?
I’ve always been drawn to the relationship the French have with food and have traveled here often for the last twelve years. In 2006, I had the opportunity to work with Anne Willan, [food writer and owner of La Varenne culinary school] at her chateau in Burgundy for several months. I was so inspired by this opportunity, I returned to the states and began the work to do what was necessary to return to France full time and to create a business around my passion for sustainable agriculture and teaching others about the food and culture of France.
Do you have any thoughts you could share with us on international sustainability?
It is interesting being an American living in France who supports sustainable agriculture and artisan food producers as I feel that sometimes the French [in general] don’t realize what they have. Sure they love their food, but I think they sometimes take it for granted. I find it interesting that so many young people are losing their connection to their culinary heritage in favor of convenience and that many people don’t realize the importance of supporting the artisan producers so their food culture isn’t lost to more industrialized food production.
What is the biggest challenge to building a sustainable business?
As a small business, I simply try to incorporate my personal philosophy into every decision that I make for my business. It is important for me to stay true to myself as I build the business and I look at The Cook’s Atelier as an extension of who I am.
What tips/tricks do you have for overcoming those challenges?
I think the most important thing is to stay open to all of the possibilities but stay focused on what is important to you and work with people who share the same philosophy.
Why do feel it is important to be involved with organizations like Chef’s Collaborative?
I think it is important to be involved with organizations like Chef’s Collaborative because as a collective group, we can educate and raise awareness about the importance of supporting small farms, artisan food producers and sustainable agriculture.
What’s inspiring you these days?
Living in Burgundy, I am inspired everyday. I am inspired by the markets, the artisan producers that I work with, and cooking and sharing food with other like-minded people.
To learn more about Marjorie and The Cook’s Atelier, visit her website.