St. Charles deli offers classes for kids and adults in cooking and baking
By the time Joanna and Daniel Migo opened DRM European Café and Delicatessen in St. Charles in December of 2016, they had both developed a few dreams.
Daniel dreamed of filling a Polish restaurant desert in the Fox Valley with an oasis of fresh food and Polish import items.
"When we opened we wanted to offer something really different," Joanna Migo said. "At first, all of the imports and the food on the hot buffet were Polish."
Over time, Daniel decided to expand the native geography of their imports.
"So, we have some German and items from Bulgaria and France," Joanna said. "It kind of took off."
Joanna's dreams filled out the venture to create something unique.
"I always envisioned a good bakery and cooking classes," she said. As a former Chicago teacher, she liked the idea of offering a culinary education at the restaurant.
Bill the Baker
When the Migos, both of St. Charles, met Daniel's mother's neighbor Bill Reichman, they thought he might be the baker they'd hoped for.
"One day he dropped off some scones and they were so good. We asked him to bake for us," Joanna recalled.
He wasn't interested.
"They asked me to bake for them, but I told them I didn't enjoy baking for retail because my reward is the smile on your face when you take something out of the oven," Reichman, otherwise known as Bill the Baker, remembered.
Reichman wasn't a baker by trade; in fact, he previously worked with computers. But baking had mingled in with his personal history from the very first in the form of a live-in European grandmother who was the family cook.
"She was a phenomenal baker," Reichman said. "From my earliest memories I have, I grew up with fresh pastries and fresh bread every day."
When Reichman was about to enter high school, his grandmother was disabled and Reichman took over as family cook.
"My mother came to me and said, 'You're the first one home during the day, so you need to be the cook," he said. "My mother wrote out explicit instructions and I followed them to a T and people tell me that's why I know how to bake so well -- because I follow recipes to a T."
As Reichman grew into adulthood, baking remained an activity he would return to again and again. When his children were young, they bonded with their father over baking, and when he was forced into early retirement he began to teach baking in Chicago and in Newport, Connecticut.
"I knew had to do something and I decided to share my passion."
When Reichman met the Migos, he discovered they weren't only seeking a retail baker, they were looking for someone to teach at their deli. It was a good fit, and he began to teach adult classes.
Joanna thought he should try baking for kids.
"He was doing baking for adults and I put that bug in his ear. The teacher in me thought he should try it," she said.
Reichman found that teaching kids to bake was a delightful experience.
"The look on their face in class in priceless, when they see what they've accomplished," he said. "I'm hoping to wake up the baker in some of them and give them the life that I had, the joy that I had all my life."
The Petit Foodies
Meanwhile, Perrine Quivron, a French immigrant, arrived in St. Charles.
"We moved from France three years ago and in France, I was working in a cancer research charity," she said.
Quivron found herself perplexed by the difference between what American kids and their French counterparts were served for lunch at school.
"I was very surprised when we moved here when my kids told me about what they eat at school," Quivron said. "I was shocked. Also, when I went to a restaurant, what was labeled as kid's food; It's not even real food."
Quivron doesn't fault American food choices, she believes that the difference in the two countries' attitudes about food is built in.
"It's a cultural difference," she said. "In France, food is considered very important. It's something that you have to teach your kids because it's part of your health."
Like Reichman, Quivron had a lifelong interest in preparing food.
"As far as I remember, I've always cooked and it's been my passion. Especially when I had my three sons. I got into cooking tasteful things that they would try and explore and educate their taste from an early age," Quivron said.
Quivron's children's classes at DRM -- The Petit Foodies -- start with moms and babies up through elementary aged kids.
"I want to start as early as I can because it's easier to get them to explore and to get them to be curious about food," she said. "It's not only about cooking, recipes, and nutrition. It's more about taste, smell, touch, colors; how beautiful colors fruits and vegetables can be. It's a whole sensory experience."
"Perrine talks about color and shapes and sizes with little flash cards," Joanna said. "She's focused on healthy, holistic, organic food. How to get your kids to eat green vegetables and 'now we're going to focus on orange' and she'll do songs with them."
Quivron introduced recipes from all over the world and has found that children in her classes are receptive to new ideas about food.
"They are actually very curious in my class. They want to try new things. They want to learn."
Soon the Migos will be adding a class where they will teach pierogi making. Although The Petit Foodies and Bill the Baker hold multiple classes each month, they are scheduled and added to the calendar on the DRM website at the teacher's discretion. But, the recent demand may necessitate change.
"Moving forward there may be more of a set schedule," Joanna said.
If you goWhat: DRM European Delicatessen's cooking classes with The Petít Foodies and Bill the Baker
Where: 610 E. Main St., St. Charles
When: For dates, times, costs and more information about Reichman and Quivron, visit DRMEuroCafe.com
Details: Quivron can be reached at thepetitfoodies.com and Facebook.com/thepetitfoodies.com; Reichman at billthebaker.com and Facebook.com/Billtheartisanbaker.com