It all started with a listing in the New York Times...
A listing posted in a Smith Alumnae forum on Facebook. A listing for La Pitchoune, the vacation home of Julia and Paul Child. The photos stirred something within Makenna. And within mere moments, Makenna had sent over 30 emails to potential investors with the text "Wouldn't it be cool to own Julia Child's House?"
That's the short story. The longer story? Which you'll be regaled if you ever visit involves the Bataclan attacks in Paris, opportunities to get bought out, and a series of lucky breaks (and carefully strategized opportunities to leap) that led Makenna to being the current steward. Pair that with a rampant love of food, and you have a marvelous place to play and pretty fantastic people to play with. (If we do say so ourselves.)
Meet our Menagerie
Host, Owner of La Pitchoune and Founder of the Courageous Cooking School
Makenna and Julia share a number of things in common: They are both incredibly tall, deeply passionate about French cooking, have a 'what the hell' attitude in the kitchen, and call Smith College their alma mater.
At age four, Makenna began a border-line obsession with escargot and mussels cooked in butter, parsley, wine, and garlic. Influenced by the lilting voice of The French Chef, she deepened her passion for cooking. But France was Makenna's favorite because of manatees first, as she believed she must learn French to work with Jacques Cousteau. As luck would have it, her rapid fire Kindergartner grammar French hasn't gone to waste despite no longer dreaming of manatee work.
As an exchange student at the age of 15, she fell in love with French cuisine all over again through the eyes of her host mother who diligently taught her everything she could. Fast forward to college? And she skipped the dining hall, bought a food share, and begun to learn to cook without recipes–before YouTube and a thousand databases for recipes were the norm.
A natural disrupter and never one to turn away from an entrepreneurial venture, she bought 'La Peetch' sight unseen, and moved her entire life to Provence–never having even visited the South of France. (Her previous experience in France? Paris, Paris, Paris, Paris, and...Paris. About a dozen times)
Over 100 graduates later, Makenna and her cadre of marvelous humans at La Peetch are hell-bent that recipe-free is one of the single most overlooked educational elements in cooking.
If she's not galavanting the terraced gardens of La Pitchoune, you'll find her traipsing about the world in her Green Apple 1978 VW Bus, Vera; or swooshing at inhuman speeds down the slopes of the Rockies. When she's not teaching unsuspecting cooks new levels of courageousness; she writes for and manages Okay Perfect, a food and travel blog focused on exquisite and impartial journalism; is the CEO of ALo Records, a record label giving the middle finger to the traditional music industry; and is the founder and director of Your Leadership Recipe, a coaching consultancy that works with corporate teams & leaders, non-profit leadership, and entrepreneurs to fully embody the notion that leadership is neither hierarchical nor linear but should be radically intersectional and inclusive.
She's a graduate of NYU's Global Affairs program, studied Philosophy at Smith College, and now can be found whipping up mousse's, sauces, and the like at Le Cordon Bleu, Paris.
Her current food loves? A good chimichuri, foie gras, Provençal wine (pink water/rosé is her favorite), and a baked Mont D'Or cheese. (Ask her tomorrow, and she'll have a different answer). Also? Taco Bell. Hey, nobody's perfect!
Cat Herder, Tender of the Dirt, and Small Talk Expert
Chris is an accidental foodie. He has wandered through his life reveling, often unknowingly, in the growing, making, and enjoyment around food. When he isn't running about to get you fresh pastries and tending to the herb garden at the Courageous Cooking School, he's a writer of words (education, history, music, and food are his favorite topics) and player/songwriter of music.
Prior to his globe trotting life with his fiancée, Makenna, he was a rock and roll librarian and curriculum development expert. (He still does both as a consultant on occasion). He is also a professional pursuer of curiosities, which makes him an excellent listener and conversationalist (at least in his own mind). If you need further proof that he’s a likable chap, our resident feline has taken a strong liking to him and, as we all know, cats never lie.
Queen of 'Getting Things Done', Housekeeper, Kitchen Whisperer
Many people who visit La Peetch's Courageous Cooking School would say that Dorota is one of their favorite people on-site. She's our 'get stuff done' queen, and will be there to clean every single pot and pan that comes out of the kitchen if you're at the CCS.
A pug-huahua/chug. Snorts like a pig, smells like laundry. Walks 1km to visit.
Resident Feline. Professional Lounger. Wisteria sniffer. Yoga cat.
Will beg for food, belly rubs, and snuggles. Likes trash. Unapologetically needy.
Sausage on Legs. Ostensibly a Jack Russell Terrier. Will lick you until you say 'NON!'
None of the above animals are ours. But they all swing by when they feel like it. Aaaaaah the joys of rural French living. (They are adorable. We promise.)