My Cancale Kitchen: The Back Story

Mary Margaret Chappell


The first time I visited my house in Cancale, I fell in love with the kitchen. The big, bright space with a view of the water was everything I could ever want as a food writer and an American looking for a place to set down roots on the coast of Brittany. Ever since, ‘My Cancale Kitchen’ is where I develop new recipes and dream up all the meals I share with friends.


My house on the harbor in Cancale gives me easy access to so many extraordinary “Armoricain” foods. (Armoricain is another term for Breton and means “by the sea.”) Cancale oysters, of course, but also…Mont-Saint-Michel Bay mussels. Day boat seafood catches that come in with the morning tide. The splendid vegetables from fields that rim the bay. The luscious dairy products from inland farms. Apples and other fruits from the orchards and fruit groves that are sprinkled about the region. Meat and poultry from small farms….basically anything and everything a cook (professional or otherwise) could ever want. It is all a source of inspiration – as are what I like to call my “past lives” as a Southerner, a New York pastry chef, and a Californian (and vegetarian!) food editor.


These three words pretty well sum up *my* cooking style – and come out of all my past lives and professional experience. My first food writing job was for a women’s magazine where all the recipes had to be ultra-easy and included nutritional information. One thing’s for sure: There’s very little wiggle room when you have a word count and know the nutritional numbers. I had to learn to Nutritional analyses numbers do not lie! I had to learn to simplify recipes, reduce fat and sugar, and (above all else) find ways to boost flavor. Second job, even more guidelines to follow. As the editor of the top vegetarian magazine in the US (which also published nutritionals), I took a crash course in vegan, gluten-free, and even simpler cooking styles (5-ingredient, 30-minute, and 1-pot features were in regular rotation) – all without sacrificing taste or enjoyment.


The very essence of good cooking. Period. Whether it’s French, American, or any other cuisine. Throughout the cooking classes, you’ll see me in action as I implement the three. We’ll talk about how to choose the best products, how to save peels and zests, how to cook with the greens and cut off bits that might otherwise get thrown away. All in the name of food that’s both frugal (in terms of waste) and generous (in terms of portions and flavor).

Hep! Hep! Hep! Hep! Hep!

Here’s what a class is like!

Hep! Hep! Hep! Hep! Hep!


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