Interview: Sophie Minetti, Chez Nous
Sophie Minetti is a remarkably talented, strong and inspirational French woman who has ingrained herself in Paris’ expatriate community. After working for 13 years as an English teacher, Sophie transformed her life to follow her passions. She is now the owner and creator of Sophie M’Chez Vous, which showcases her knack for home management.
I first met Sophie at a cooking class she was teaching. That first class was on how to make a traditional New Year’s Galette des Rois, or King’s Cake, but I have since taken many of her classes. Running a very reasonable 20€ apiece, Sophie can create delicious palette-pleasing meals using simple, everyday foods.
I sat down with Sophie to discuss her love of cooking, home decorating and who she wants to be when she grows up.
What is your earliest memory of cooking?
Wow… you mean when I was a child?
Maybe it’s cooking riz au lait with my Grandma, and… hmm, what else? Making pâté with my Grandmother. Ah, but, the riz au lait was with my mother’s mother, and the pâté was with my father’s mother. And both of them… they didn’t have the same life. My father’s mother was rather campagnard, [which means] a lot of meat, and my mother’s mother is rather a city person, so it’s more delicate.
So, this is my earliest souvenir, memory.
Where do you think that your love of cooking comes from?
Because I like eating!
Do you have any mealtime traditions in your own family now?
Yes, definitely. We always have meals together, every evening. And on Sundays we have a nice meal. We set a nice table. Every Sunday. And yes, it’s quite traditional, really.
You used to be a schoolteacher. Why did you decide to switch over to teaching cooking?
Because I was a bit disappointed with the educating system and I knew that I wanted to do something with my own hands. I wanted to create something.
When I worked, with my three kids, I had to find…solutions to make life at home easier and I realized that no one like me existed, so I thought… there was a need somewhere, so I decided to do this. And this way I could do the three things I like: educating and cooking and decorating.
What is your philosophy when it comes to teaching your cooking classes?
What is the philosophy behind the food that you cook?
Easy to do, and good.
How did you become involved in the ex-pat community? How did you begin teaching for them?
I missed my English-speaking and I had some gymnastic classes with [a couple of American women] and one day I went to them to ask them to help me translate my brochure, and we were just talking and then they told me it would be a good opportunity to go and see what they did at the American Church, for example.
“I would like to be the new Mary Poppins, but I haven’t found the bag yet.”
So I left brochures and then I had the brunch where I met you, and then things just kept going like that. But the beginning was my meeting with [those women].
Do you think that the French approach cooking and food differently than other cultures?
Maybe in the way that… one dish is maybe more dedicated to one ingredient. Maybe it’s less cooked, but more doing the best with one thing. That’s what I think, and I don’t know if that’s right, but I would say that.
What are some of the other services you that offer besides the cooking classes?
Decluttering houses and helping people to find their place good, pleasant. So, a bit of decorating, doing easy things with anything you can find, you can reuse or change or just imagine what you want to have. And, helping children to be more efficient with their work, because this is my previous job.
What does the future hold for Sophie M’Chez Vous?
I would like to be the new Mary Poppins, but I haven’t found the bag yet.
Thank you, Sophie, for the wonderful conversation!
To learn more about Sophie’s services and to sign up for her upcoming cooking classes, check out her Facebook page.
Have you attended one of Sophie’s classes? Share your experience with us in the comments.Images by Jennifer Geraghty