Christmas in Burgundy: At Home with the Expat Family Behind the Cook’s Atelier

At home in Burgundy, France, Kendall Smith Franchini and her family have plenty of reasons to celebrate this season. She and her mother, Marjorie Taylor, are marking the 15th anniversary of The Cook’s Atelier, their cooking school in Beaune, France. A few years back, they published their first cookbook, The Cook’s Atelier, a recipe-filled chronicle of small-town life in the French wine region. Thanks to Kendall’s husband, Laurent Franchini, their Burgundy-accented kitchen boutique and wine shop is fully open in their headquarters and online—providing Marjorie and Kendall with the perfect excuse to prowl the local flea markets. And to top it off, the boutique was recently named one of the 24 most beautiful shops in the world by Veranda magazine.

All of this, mother and daughter tell us, is the result of a long-shared dream for the two of them. “Kendall has been a Francophile since she was a little girl,” says Marjorie, explaining that she herself as a 25-year-old single mom had apprenticed at a series of French restaurants in Phoenix, where they lived, “because I wanted to learn classic French technique.” Marjorie became a pastry chef and co-owned a small Phoenix restaurant and cooking school. Nearly a decade later, to begin a new chapter, she spent six months in Burgundy working under Anne Willan at La Varenne cooking school. Meanwhile, after a formative high school trip to Paris, Kendall earned her BA—in French and art history—and went on to study viticulture at the Centre de Formation Professionnelle et de Promotion Agricole, the main wine school in Beaune, and to work for Berkeley wine importer Kermit Lynch. Together, mother and daughter set their sights on Burgundy as a place to sink their roots and create a business. All of that has come to pass, along with two children and a charming fixer-upper for Kendall and Laurent. Kendall invited us to have a look at her family’s remodeled place and their holiday festivities.

Photography by Anson Smart, courtesy of The Cook’s Atelier.

laurent, who grew up in the south of france, leads their children, luc and mano 12
Above: Laurent, who grew up in the South of France, leads their children, Luc and Manon, home with a Christmas tree from their own backyard: “The previous owner was an avid arborist and passionate gardener, so the land on which our little house sits feels like a park with plenty of shade trees and a little orchard at the end of the garden,” says Kendall.

marjorie lives nearby and arrives midday every christmas in her vintage 2cv wi 13
Above: Marjorie lives nearby and arrives midday every Christmas in her vintage 2CV with presents on the roof: “It’s become a family tradition,” says Kendall. Their cooking school is 20 minutes away in an 18th-century building in the heart of Beaune: See A Year in Burgundy: The Cook’s Atelier.