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Simple French food without the myths

SIMPLIFYING the mysteries and debunking the myths about cooking French food is the aim of Frenchwoman Olivia Guinebault when she holds one of her popular cooking classes in Shanghai.

Guinebault teaches both foreigners and Chinese the finer points of French cuisine and even runs classes specifically aimed at training ayis (domestic helpers).

Rubbishing the view that French food is laden with butter and cream, Guinebault says her southern French-style recipes are healthy, easy to prepare and affordable.

Next month, Guinebault plans to launch a book of her recipes that contains easy-to-follow items written in Chinese, English and French.

Named after her cooking classes, "Cuisine Mei Wenti (r)? Daily Cooking Becomes a Pleasure," will be launched in mid-July and is aimed at getting potential cooks to ditch the fast food and adopt a healthy lifestyle.

The cook book provides recipes that have been honed by the feedback from more than 200 students. Mostly southern recipes that Guinebault has given a Mediterranean twist, the book also contains helpful tips and provides a basic guide to Western cuisine with instructions on how to set the table or plan a dinner party.

Guinebault, who cooks everyday for herself, says her students can start with virtually no knowledge of Western cooking to within six weeks being able to plan and prepare a three-course meal.

"I wanted to show people that cooking is enjoyable and easy and everyone can do it," she said.

More information about the book and Guinebault's cooking classes is available from


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