Creole cooking workshop in La Reunion

Categories Activities, Culture, La Reunion, Zarlor
Atelier de cuisine créole traditionnelle au Maïdo avec Doudou.

Creole cooking workshop in Maïdo

Strolling in the garden to choose the ingredients for the meal. Preparing the lunch menu together, from the aperitif to the main course. Learning more about traditional or revisited Creole cuisine… all this in a friendly atmosphere, it’s the program of this creole cooking workshop at Maïdo.

Creole cooking workshop at Maïdo at "Le domaine des Orchidées".

What is a Zarlor ?

Zarlor is a creol word that means « treasure » !
But here, ” Zarlor ” are activities, recommendations (guided tours, sport or cutltural activities…) highlighted by the Tourist Office to discover or re discover the West part of the island.

Le domaine des Orchidées at Maïdo

We arrive at 9 am at the Domaine des Orchidées in Maïdo for a day of learning and sharing around traditional Creole cuisine. We often pass in front of the domain on our way up to the Maïdo viewpoint and always wondered what it was! Well here we have the answer, it’s Doudou’s domain (from the eponymous restaurant located a little further down the road). The group’s participants arrive little by little, once complete, Doudou joins us to start this morning which promises to be colorful.

The creole cooking workshop at Maïdo is going to start!

A little coffee to start!

Before we begin the Creole cooking workshop, we take a small coffee (or a homemade herbal tea) on the small covered terrace. We are lucky, the weather is nice and we have a superb view of the coast. Doudou explains a bit about the morning and what they are doing here.

Great costal view from the Domaine des Orchidées in Maïdo, Reunion island.

They created the association ” Maïdo nou lé la ” (which means, Maïdo, we are here) and sell local crafts at the small Maïdo shop (on the left just before arriving at the car park). The money is donated to the social: orphanage in Madagascar, help for people in difficulty in Reunion, integration, houses’ rehabilitation…in short, a bit of everything if it can help.

Doudou, originally from Grand Bois (south of the island) but having grown up in Marseille, is a recognized chef. Toque blanche and above all a true cordon bleu with limitless imagination, he is now training the new generation in the kitchen.

Visiting the domain and picking in the garden

Okay, we’re tchating, we’re tchating, but enough, we’re starting to get hungry in this little fresh air in the highlands! It is time to visit the garden and discover a little about the domain’s plants. And above all picking some herbs that will serve us for this Creole cooking workshop!

Wonderful flower in the domaine des orchidées at Maïdo.

We learn some tricks, like knowing which wood to use for which cooking. Tamarind wood is perfect for long cooking, acacia for open fires, filaos for starting BBQs… We also learn that mimosa flowers make an excellent arranged rum… in short , the course has started, and as much to say that we are taking notes!

As we go along, Doudou sends us to pick nasturtiums, geranium (the main crop in Maïdo at the time)… explains to us how we can eat in “Feuille songe”: cake, jam, gratin, salad, brède…we know the songe donuts, but not all its uses…

Some géranium that'll serve for the creole cooking workshop before cultivatedd here.

After a good visit and a lot of info, (but we won’t tell you everything of course), we’re going back to the kitchen!

Let’s go for the Top Chef Péi!

Once in the kitchen, we make groups: “Aperitif”, “Meal”, “Omelette”, “Doughnuts”, … and nvery quickly, we get to work. Doudou gives us the directions… and be careful, don’t think that one will do everything for you, here we put our hands in the dough!

These orange flowers are go be used for the omelette preparation during the creole cooking workshop.

He explains us that he is known for his traditional cuisine but also for his originality and creativity.

Today the goal is of course to learn the basics of Creole cuisine, but also to have fun, to exchange and above all to have fun.

Everyone in the kitchen!

Everyone has their own task: prepare donut dough, cut chicken, onions or tomatoes, clean shrimp, remove petals from nasturtiums… we have something to take care of. We activate ourselves by keeping an eye on what others are doing so as not to lose a crumb of the preparation of the meal. While some add homemade vanilla extract to the punch, others fry the donuts or prepare a geranium mayonnaise for the shrimp.

Making juice and punch for apero during the creole cooking workshop in Reunion island.

Once again, we learn several cooking tricks. Like letting the first donut cook well so that it collects all the impurities from the oil. To use vinksink salt so that the dough remains more homogeneous during frying. Add and let stand the coconut milk with the cooked chicken off the heat before putting it back to simmer… a real gold mine of info!

Doudou shows us how to fry the donoughts during the creole cooking workshop.

Anyway, don’t hesitate to take notes, because there is a lot of super useful information to remember.

Aperoooooooo !

Before completely finishing the preparation of the meal, we take a break on the terrace for an aperitif. The opportunity to taste punch and fresh fruit juice… but also to start testing what we have prepared! Donuts, sweet potato chips and “rougail zomelette” by Romain, each preparation is really good!

Donuts, sweet potato chips and "rougail zomelette"... our aperitif during the creole cooking workshop.

In turn, everyone explains to the others what they have prepared and how. And we take the opportunity to taste a bit of everything! It’s very good, but even if it’s very difficult, don’t jump on it… there’s still plenty to eat to follow!

When there’s more… there’s still!

Let’s go back to the kitchen to finish simmering our 2 dishes, coconut chicken and geranium camarons curry. Then it’s time for serious things. We go to the table, with a piece of banana leaf on the plate, we take our dishes and the sweet potato zembrocal rice!

Traditionnal creole dish to eat in a banana leaf in Maïdo.

A delight and a great atmosphere at the table. Indeed, we are a nice little group at the table and spending 2 hours in the kitchen all together, it brings people together. It’s really a morning based on exchange and sharing… good and also on a good meal that makes you happy!

A nice and convivial moment at lunch at the end of the creole cooking workshop with Doudou.

Doudou’s Touch

To end in style, we also have the right to 2 homemade cupcakes, one lemon and the other chocolate. Clearly, after all we’ve eaten, we’re not really hungry anymore… but hey, there’s always a little room for a sweet treat! Especially since Doudou takes out his guitar and plays us a few little songs. This is not always the case because it is sometimes his wife who leads the workshop. And soon maybe one of his apprentices too when he’s ready!

Doudou plays guitar at the end of the creole cooking workshop!

Before leaving, we take a short walk in the garden to digest and go say hello to the chickens, guinea fowl and pigs. No one really wants to leave anymore and Doudou tells us that we can stay for a nap if we want, no pressure!

We go to see the pigs during the small digestive walk in the domaine des orchidées.

In any case, if you want to have a great time, immerse yourself in Reunion’s culinary culture, have a good laugh, eat well and meet a real character, do not hesitate. We really had a great time!

Practical Info:

This Zarlor “Traditional Creole cooking workshop” in Maïdo takes place over a good half-day. It includes the visit and picking in the garden, the culinary workshop with a chef from the Maïdo Nou lé la association and lunch.

The price is €36 per person.

For all the details on the outing and to book your Zarlor Creole cooking workshop, it’s on the West Tourist Office website (in french)!

Remember to take a notebook and pen to take notes and a casual outfit including a good sweater. It can be very chilly, we are at an altitude of 1500 meters.

And to find all our activities in Réunion, it’s this way !

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