Nadège Lepoittevin-Dasse is bringing a taste of Normandy to the Scenic South through her fun and interactive French cookery lessons, taught from her home overlooking the ocean in Fish Hoek.


Sharing her love of cooking and passion for fresh ingredients, her classes are delightful and suitable for any level of cooking skill.  If you can tie apron strings, Nadège will guide you through a dish or two.


There are various menu options to choose from, all of which include simple and practical tips like how to peel an onion without crying.  The average class lasts about 3 hours including a sit-down meal afterwards to taste the fruits of your labours.  The meal is accompanied by a wine pairing by Nadège’s husband, Frederic, who imports and exports wine between South Africa and France.


More recently, Nadège expanded her menus to include a seafood option which involves an excursion to gather mussels in Scarborough before returning home to cook them in two traditional French ways – the Normandy classic Moules Marinières and Basque-style mussels with chorizo and fresh herbs.  The base of garlic, onion and shallots in both dishes is sautéed in Graisse de Canard (duck fat) and then saturated in white wine and simmered until the shells pop open.


With the concepts of slow food and foraging becoming increasingly popular in Cape Town, this course is a treat for anyone who appreciates the abundance of locally sourced fresh and wholesome food and the outdoors.


I asked Nadège why she chose duck fat rather than olive oil or butter to sauté the onions.


‘I love the taste it gives’, she says.  It’s one of the most common ways of cooking in the south west of France and it gives a very disctinctive taste to any dish.


‘I thought that with the chorizo it will make an interesting mix of flavours and it will complement the mussels. Duck fat is also healthier than butter. It’s said to be as good as olive oil as it is mostly mono-unsaturated,’ she says.


And the top 6 non-negotiable ingredients in her kitchen that form the basis of her combining French cooking in a South African setting?


‘Ouh la la, very difficult to limit to 6 ingredients!’ she says, rattling of a bountiful foreign-sounding list:  ‘Duck fat, piment d’espelette, herbes de provence, fleur de sel, extra virgin olive oil, good quality fresh cream, fond de veau (dry veal stock), unpasteurised cheeses, good quality wine.’


And don’t forget the bread:  The French love good quality, crusty bread and there are several places between Muizenberg and Simonstown that get Nadège’s nod of approval.


The couple’s home is airy and filled with light and minimalistic décor.  The muted sounds of popular French music in the background adds to the ambiance and the couple’s hospitality is as warm as a summer afternoon.


 For more information visit Nadège at

Article and photos by Karen Larsen

Karen was a newspaper journalist in the 1980’s working for, among others, The Star and The Daily News.  These days she focuses on documenting life in the fairest Cape in her blog – a photographic journal about “Living on the tip of Africa, travelling, hiking and simply being”.