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CookIt! 2007 Winner's Prize Report

Sophie Buck ()

Sophie Buck (pictured below) who won CookIt! in 2007, reports from her first prize trip to Paris, France courtesy of Air Miles:

Sophie Buck, who won CookIt! in 2007, in Paris
On Tuesday, 17 July 2007, I set off with my mother aboard the Eurostar train bound for Paris. I was incredibly excited about my Cook It! Prize trip, as I had never been to central Paris before and, thanks to the sponsors Air Miles, we arrived quickly and went to our wonderful hotel in Avenue Kleber, only 10 minutes from the Arc du Triomphe.

As our gastro guide, Kate Whiteman, was not arriving until later that day, we spent the time visiting one of the most famous sights, the Eiffel Tower. Even after queuing for one hour and forty minutes, I can still say that it was worth every minute. The views were amazing from every level!

The following morning, we met up with Kate and Jane Suthering. They took us to a wonderful street market, Marché President Wilson. We saw some incredible fruit and vegetables, especially the varieties of tomatoes in all shapes, sizes and colours. The stallholders were very welcoming and allowed us to sample their produce, from the sweet strawberries to foie gras! We watched one stallholder making crêpes with every possible filling from sweet to savoury. The seafood was displayed beautifully and really makes you want to buy some. At the rotisserie stall, they were cooking everything from rabbits and pig to chickens and ducks. Under them, were trays of potatoes into which the juices were dropping. The smell was delicious!

Kate Whiteman and Sophie Buck at the Marché President Wilson
Kate Whiteman and Sophie Buck at the Marché President Wilson

After this, we hopped onto a metro to Les Halles to visit the fantastic food shops in rue Montorgueil. We visited a beautiful shop called Charles Chocolatier, where we were given samples to taste. The chocolate was very rich but melted in your mouth. We walked slowly along visiting many of the shops selling a variety of foods from fish to olive oil. All the shop windows in Paris are carefully set out with wonderful displays to tempt you. My favourite shop there, was the oldest pâtisserie in Paris called Stohrer. It was filled with fruit tarts, gâteaux and pastries of all types.

After lunch, we did some more sightseeing and took a boat trip along the River Seine. We visited the Louvre, but it was very busy because the new President was there too. I had the most expensive diet coke there. It cost 6 Euro, which is about £4.00!

Thursday was our final day and we met Kate and Jane at the Ritz Hotel. We were given a tour of the hotel, kitchens and cookery school. I really enjoyed this, especially meeting the head chef, who presented me with one of his special chef hats. The kitchens were spotless and we saw some of the pastries that they had just prepared that morning.

Sophie Buck in the kitchens of the Ritz Hotel
Sophie Buck in the kitchens of the Ritz Hotel

After this, we set off to the Place de la Madeleine to visit some of the amazing shops there. I couldn’t believe that some of the sugar roses and fruit jellies in Fauchon and Hediard weren’t real! In La Maison de la Truffe, where they sell truffles, there was everything from oil and cheese to pasta. But it was all very expensive. I bought some macaroons in Ladurée instead, which were delicious.

Sophie Buck enjoys her chocolate soufflé at Le Soufflé

Now it was time for lunch and Kate had booked a table at Le Soufflé, in rue de Mont-Thabor. I chose a salmon one for my main course, followed by a chocolate one with chocolate sauce for dessert. They were soufflerb!

Just before catching the train home, we had time to visit the food-hall Lafayette Gourmet, once again filled with beautiful arrangements of produce from fresh fruit to snails, and the air filled with the smell of freshly baked bread and coffee.

This was an incredible prize and a great experience and I have many happy memories of the trip. Thank you to everyone at The Guild of Food Writers for organising such a brilliant competition and a big thank you to Kate and Jane for guiding us and showing us the delights of Paris.


Author: Sophie Buck Email:

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