SPAC “In Conversation”

Wednesday, October 19: A Conversation with Acclaimed Travel and Food Writer, Sylvie Bigar,  Author of “Cassoulet Confessions: Food, France, Family and the Stew That Saved My Soul,” followed by Lunch and “French Market Place” Shopping

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Saratoga Performing Arts Center announces that its popular Action Council fundraising event “SPAC in Conversation,” formerly known as the Lecture Luncheon, will return with acclaimed travel and food writer Sylvie Bigar. Moderated by SPAC President & CEO Elizabeth Sobol, the discussion will explore Bigar’s upcoming memoir Cassoulet Confessions: Food, France, Family and the Stew That Saved My Soul along with insights from her international travels and culinary adventures. Slated for Wednesday, October 19 at the Spa Little Theatre and the Hall of Springs, the event is also highlighted by a lunch inspired by Bigar’s book and “French Market Place” shopping. (See below for the Luncheon Menu.)

“Whether you are a gourmand, globetrotter or a lover of great books, this is the ‘can’t miss’ event of the season,” said Elizabeth Sobol, SPAC’s president & CEO. “We are grateful to the Action Council for bringing back this event following three years of navigating the pandemic.” 

“After a three year absence, the Action Council is delighted to present this beloved fundraising event once more. The planning committee has put together a fabulous day of conversation, shopping, food and friends that will transport you to the South of France — at least for an afternoon,” said Keeley DeSalvo, president of the Action Council.

Sylvie Bigar

In her memoir Cassoulet Confessions: Food, France, Family and the Stew That Saved My Soul, to be released on September 13, Sylvie accepts an assignment on cassoulet, France’s ancestral bean and meat stew. She could not have known that she was about to jump into a rabbit hole that would lead her miles away from her upper-crust childhood in Switzerland and force her to reckon with her identity and her own dramatic family history. Cassoulet Confessions, a poignant gourmand memoir, moves between generational family drama and Sylvie’s gastronomic training as the reader is engulfed in the simmering smells of the French kitchen, then suddenly thrown in the terrifying front seat of the family car.

Award-winning food and travel writer Sylvie Bigar was born in Geneva, Switzerland, and lives in New York City. Her writing has appeared widely, including in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Food & Wine,, Saveur, Bon Appetit, Edible, Departures, Travel & Leisure and National Geographic Traveler. In addition, Sylvie has contributed to the following French publications: Le Figaro, Histoire  Magazine, Le Temps and  

“SPAC in Conversation: Sylvie Bigar”is presented by the SPAC Action Council, which supports SPAC’s cultural mission through membership, volunteering efforts, and fundraising events. Past speakers for the event have included New York Times columnist Pamela Paul; celebrated author of The End of Your Life Book Club, Will Schwalbe; New York Times bestselling author Andrew Gross; award-winning NPR host and correspondent Jacki Lyden, and acclaimed novelist Elizabeth Brundage, among others.

The schedule of events is as follows:

10:00 A.M. | Conversation with Sylvie Bigar, Spa Little Theatre

11:30 A.M. | Book Signing & Boutique Shopping, Hall of Springs

12:30 P.M. | Luncheon, Hall of Springs

Shopping Included! File photo

Cost to attend the fundraiser is $95 and includes admission to the discussion, Hall of Springs luncheon and the French Market Place shopping event.

Tickets may be purchased at or by calling at 518.584.9330, ext. 142.  

Menu du Déjeuner


Tomato Bisque 

Oven charred tomato shooter, grilled cheese skewer, basil oil (V) 

Chateaubriand Crostini 

Rosemary chevre, caramelized onion, green peppercorn cognac mousse 

Crab & Corn Fritter 

Lemon basil aioli 

Sparkling Wine 

Raspberry garnish 

Saratoga Sparkling Water 

Lemon & lime garnish  

Cassoulet a la Sylvie

Gateway Cassoulet recipe from  

“Cassoulet Confessions: Food, France, Family and the Stew That Saved My Soul” 


French Harvest Salade (GF,V) 

Winter greens, salt roasted beets, pickled apples, pistachio 

Roquefort garnish & White balsamic vinaigrette passed at your table 

French Baguette & butter 

Plat Principal 

Brick Pressed Chicken (GF) 

Statler chicken breast, roasted fingerlings, lemon pan jus, gremolata 

Haricots Verts 


Butternut Squash Pot Pie (V) 

Thyme-carraway pastry cap, winter greens, maple cider vinaigrette 


Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris served at your table 

Dessert, Café et Thé 

Selection of  

Lemon Lavender Petit Four, Raspberry Clafoutis Skillet, French Vanilla Macaron, Madeleines, Mini Berry Tarts 

Coffee, Decaf and Tea Service 

Cream, Sugar, Lemon, Honey 

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