Peek Inside Patricia Wells’s Chic Parisian Kitchen Atelier
The second location of her famed cooking school was designed to reflect the cookbook author's love of Provence
Lined with jewel-box boutiques and patisseries, and bustling with shoppers, the rue du Bac is one of the chicest—and busiest—streets in Paris. But behind a set of heavy carriage doors on a picturesque Directoire building hides a serene and sunny space suffused with warm color and cooled by breezes through centuries-old linden trees—it’s the kitchen atelier of celebrated American cookbook author and teacher Patricia Wells.
For 17 years, Patricia and her husband, Walter, have lived on the ground floor of this gracious mid-19th-century building. When a neighboring apartment recently came free, Wells jumped at the opportunity to bring her renowned cooking school next door to her home. She worked with Alon and Betsy Kasha, founders of the Paris design group A+B Kasha, to transform the apartment—which had been untouched for decades—into an elegant, intimate kitchen atelier that deftly combines Parisian style with modern convenience. “The Kashas have a clean, classic look; there’s nothing brand-new about it,” says Wells. “At the same time, the entire atelier is completely up to date.”
Reflecting Wells’s love of Provence, where she and Walter have a home, the rooms are splashed in shades of yellow—from a custom Lacanche stove in earthy ocher to the salon’s buttery leather sofas. Stone floors in pale lemon, canary-bright rattan café chairs, and gold-dipped cast-iron hardware gleam against cream-colored cabinets that mirror the light. “There wasn’t any question there was going to be yellow,” says Wells. “In my head it’s just sunshine, which we need a lot of in Paris.”
Restored stone walls contribute to a rustic atmosphere, while the generous center island offers ample space for Wells’s students to practice their new knife skills on oversize ash boards that stretch almost the width of the counter. “This is a clean look but still lived in,” she says, “because when you’re cooking you need to have everything in reach.”
Tucked at the back of a leafy, cobblestone courtyard, the atelier owes its breezy brightness to a wall of French windows that open onto a private terrasse that in the warmer months doubles as an outdoor dining room and salon, thus expanding the cozy 800-square-foot interior. Beyond the terrasse is a slender garden that features unusual varieties like shiso and oyster plants alongside classic fines herbes like tarragon, thyme, and mint.
Though Wells regularly changes her class menu, recent examples of her seasonal, market-fresh dishes include delicate chickpea crepes with zucchini and herbs; steamed turbot with peas, spinach, and kaffir lime; and an aromatic rosemary sorbet. The recipes are all emblematic of Wells’s cuisine, abundant with fruits and vegetables and featuring herbs grown in her beloved garden, which, like everything in the atelier, was meticulously planned.
“It took us a full year to work out all the details and obsess over them,” she admits. “But now it’s just a dream come true.”
A version of this article first appeared in print in our 2018 Winter Issue under the headline Main Menu. Subscribe to the magazine.