About Barbara Small

About Barbara Small About Barbara Small - French and Italian cooking Classes Instructor

My first adventure in the world of food was when I went to Paris to attend The Cordon Bleu Cooking School. This was an exciting time. I lived in a small room (with a bidet & basin) on the rue St Dominique amongst the laiteries, boulangeries, patisseries and bars. In fact I would write my letters home at a small table in a bar for company. Then the French housewives shopped twice a day. At the butchers they would feel a chicken's beak to see how young it was and could tell the breed by its feet. Always they would gently press the camemberts and bries to make sure it would be perfect for that meal. Bread was baked and bought twice a day and the bakeries also offered an enticing range of crisp, flaky croissants, brioches with their handsome glossy patina and rustic fruit tarts glazed or powdered with icing sugar. I was entranced by everything.

My next adventure was working and living in Geneva within easy access of both France and Italy. Now I was able to cook & experiment in my own minute kitchen. I would shop in France (1 kilometre away) for the freshest produce and buy French wines. And Italy was only an afternoon's drive away. Back again in Paris I took another course with a famous Cordon Bleu cook recommended by Raymond Oliver the leading chef in Paris. Most of the students were young boys training to be chefs and were such fun. These were lessons in frugality. How a French cook could produce a wonderful meal with a few simple ingredients. The food was respected and nothing was wasted.

On my return to Australia I taught cooking in my home kitchen for few months when out of the blue I was offered a wonderful job assisting Graham Kerr The Galloping Gourmet with his television programmes. This was a journey of discovery. We made hundreds of television programmes in Australia and in North America researching and cooking dishes from all over the world. These were heady times with an abundance of new ingredients at our fingertips.

I have contributed articles to the National Times researching the beginnings of the Australian olive oil industry, been on the trail of migratory apiarists in the Channel Country and trudged through the asparagus fields in Cowra to get a good story.

Since opening Belpane Cooking School I have travelled extensively in France and Italy where I have cooked with many gifted women in their kitchens. From Palermo, Naples and Bari in the south to Forli, Milan and Turin in the north I absorbed the history, stories and cooking techniques which these women so generously imparted.