Northern Loire, France - 5 nights
Available April to June, September to November - Saturday to Thursday
Located one hour and 40 minutes from Paris, the Mayenne region in the Northern Loire of France provides you with a magical setting for your French cooking vacation. Learn cooking techniques using the beautiful foods of this exquisite region. You will stay in a renovated farmhouse and will experience fun, informal and inspirational classes taught in English with no more than four guests to one chef so everyone gets the personal attention they require, regardless of your skill level, with extensive hands-on time in the kitchen.
Have you ever wished that you could cook and present gourmet food as seen on TV or in restaurants? Here, in the Loire, northern France, two professional chefs are waiting to share with you their wealth of experience and to take your cooking to the next level. From knife skills that chefs use, stocks and sauces to create those mouth-watering sauces you only ever find in top restaurants, to crisp precise presentation that will impress and delight your friends and family, you will learn all of this and so much more!
Arriving mid-afternoon on Saturday, the course begins with an introductory talk to discuss the course's aims and structure. Later in the evening, after complimentary champagne and canapés, the theme of the course is emphasized with a 6-course gourmet dinner, where the style and standard of the food you will be cooking is presented. This gives you the perfect opportunity to relax and get to know your fellow guests.
Each day after breakfast, the morning begins with hands-on lessons, ranging from making bread, pasta, basic butchery, fish filleting, pastry work (chocolate piping, caramel cages, tuiles). This is followed by preparation of the gourmet dishes for the evening meal, where you will be creating dishes such as "Spiced monkfish served with crushed new potatoes, spinach and a mussel cream sauce " or "Chicken & Foie Gras tortellini with a truffle foam". Among the things you will learn are: how to prepare fish and meat and choose quality produce, how to make your own stocks, how to make tagliatelle and ravioli as well as learning the secrets of making divine ice cream. After a light lunch you will have the opportunity to experience part of the local culture with visits to a 19th century windmill still milling buckwheat flour in the traditional way, and meet the charming proprietor, Monsieur Lemoine, who comes from 12 generations of millers. We also have a local artisan boulanger/patissier visit to teach croissants and macaroons. After your relaxing afternoon it's more hands-on fun in the kitchen, where the final preparations for the evening's dinner will continue. It is then time to sit down and enjoy the incredible food you have prepared.
On the last day you and your new friends will cook as a team, with only a little guidance from our chefs, using all the skills and knowledge acquired during the week. However, to relieve the pressure, in the afternoon, a gourmet barbeque is served followed by games in the garden, such as croquet and boules. Then back to the kitchen for final preparations, before sitting down to your gastronomic feast.
Your accommodation in the sympathetically renovated farmhouse is set in a walnut grove in the heart of idyllic rural France. The house is surrounded by its own gardens, where in clement weather you can play boules or croquet, or simply relax in the sun. The four luxuriously appointed en-suite bedrooms are situated on the first and ground floors and have stunning views stretching over the countryside. The professionally equipped kitchen is located across the courtyard from the farmhouse and has been exclusively designed for these culinary vacations. With a high ceiling and exposed beams the large kitchen is light and airy and retains a soft country ambiance, ideal for learning to cook.
COURSE SAMPLE ITINERARY
Day one - saturday
5pm - Introductory talk - Discussing aims and course structure
5.30pm - Complimentary champagne
6.15pm - Dinner, 6-course gourmet dinner
Foie gras crème brulèe, roast chicken jelly, truffle foam and onion tart
Caramelized scallops with cauliflower purée scented with truffle oil
Pan-fried breast of duck with stir-fried vegetables and an oriental sauce
Passion fruit and orange bavarois with orange crisps and passion fruit sauce
Selection of cheese and biscuits
Coffee and truffles
Day Two - Sunday
9.00AM to 9.45AM - Breakfast (to include fresh croissants, breads and preserves, cereals, orange juice, yogurts, tea and coffee.)
10.00AM - Kitchen. Welcome, explore kitchen/equipment etc: Hands-on Basic knife skills; care of knives, safety, sharpening, chop and slice onion, brunoise of carrot, julienne of leek, vierge dressing.
11.00AM - Demonstration: Leek and potato soup, cheese croutons.
11.15AM - Seasoning techniques: How to bring the best out of your ingredients
11.45AM Hands-on Bread making; plain, sun-dried tomato and parmesan, basil and olive oil, onion and cumin
12.30pm - Chicken butchery
1.30pm - Lunch. Leek and potato soup, cheese, pickles, salads, home-made bread and olives
2.30pm - Chicken stock (white and brown), veal glaze, red wine and shallot sauce
2:45pm - Demonstration: Prep salmon Gravlax of salmon; Hands-on Filleting trout (one each) and prep mussels. Fish stock
3.50pm - Demonstration: Seafood chowder, fish stock, home smoked trout and crab bisque sauce
4.30pm - Finish
6.00pm - Apertifs
6.30pm - Dinner
Warm Quail Scotch egg salad with Aïoli
Seared fillet of salmon served with sauteed king prawns and a crab bisque vinaigrette
Iced coconut parfait
Cheese and biscuits
Day three - monday
9.00 to 9.45AM - Breakfast
10.00AM - Kitchen: Demonstration: Pasta dough followed by making chicken and foie gras mousse and rich sweet pastry
10.45AM - Hands-on Tortellini filled with chicken & foie gras mousseline and tagliatelle.
11.45AM - Menu explanation:
*Chicken & foie gras tortellini with a truffle foam
*Medley of chicken with a smoked onion purée & a chorizo & lime sauce
*Glazed lemon tart with iced lime parfait served in a honey wafer basket
*Selection of cheese and biscuits
*Coffee and truffles
11.55AM - Hands-on Menu Prep Group 1: Chicken dish, caesar salad. Group 2: Sorbet plates, lemon tart, iced lime parfait, honey wafer baskets, lemon zest.
1.30PM - Lunch: Tagliatelle with a bacon, tomato and onion sauce, fresh bread and salad, followed by cheese and biscuits.
2.30PM- - Excursion - Can vary according to availability - either a 19th century windmill, producing buckwheat flour in the traditional method or local cider farm with tasting.
5.30PM - Back in the kitchen for apertifs and to finish prep.
7.30PM - Dinner.
Day Four - Tuesday
9.00am to 9.45am - Breakfast
10.00am - Demonstration/hands-on: Ice-creams (caramelized banana & cinnamon, rum & raisin and vanilla), sugar work, and chocolate piping, honey wafer baskets plus tuille work
11:30am - Tea and home-made biscuits
11.45am - Menu explanation:
Duo of smoked salmon and guacamole with a chili and lime dressing
Chicken liver parfait served with a sweet and sour sauce
Spiced monkfish served with crushed new potatoes, spinach and a mussel cream sauce
Apple panacotta with apple gel & raspberry sorbet
Cheese and biscuits
Coffee and petit fours
11.55am - Hands-on Menu Prep Group 2: Chicken liver parfait, sweet and sour sauce, monk-fish dish, deep-fried veg; Group 1: Smoked salmon, guacamole, chili dressing, bread and butter pudding, tuile work, orange zest, sugar work, cinnamon ice cream, gin & tonic sorbet.
1.30pm - Lunch: Cold meats, salads, homemade bread & pickles followed by ice-creams.
2.30pm - Hands-on – Traditional French patissier master-class with Monsieur Vasilli - croissants & macaroons
5.30pm - Aperitifs and to finish prep
6pm - Dinner
Day five - wednesday
9.00am to 9.45am - Breakfast
10.00am - Menu explanation:
Gravadlax of salmon with a prawn and cucumber dressing
Crispy duck and vegetable spring rolls with a sweet chili sauce
Tenderloin of pork with roasted pork belly (sous vide)
Coffee and baileys cheesecake with chocolate and earl grey tea ice cream
Selection of cheeses
Coffee and petit fours
10.10am - Hands-on Group 1: Spring roll starter, main course, Group 2: Gravadlax dish, pudding, sorbet and petitie fours.
12.30pm - Lunch Barbeque
2.03pm - Leisure time, croquet, boules and generally relaxing.
5.30pm - Finish kitchen prep, followed by apertifs
6.30pm - Dinner
Day Six - Thursday
9.00am to 10.00am - Breakfast
Departure before midday
*Menus may vary from time to time
*Itinerary may change slightly due to season
A minimum of 3 participants is required to run this tour and the tour is limited to a maximum of 8 participants.
(The number of participants refers to how many persons are required to run the tour, not to how many persons you must have in your party. Please inquire.)
HOW TO ARRIVE
Closest Airport/Train Stations:
Laval Train Station - 30 minutes from cooking school
Rennes - 1 hour
Malo/Dinard - 2 hours
Paris - 3 to 4 hours - 1 hour 40 minutes by TGV, fast train
*TGV High Speed Train between Rennes and Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, stopping at Laval train station (transfer is included in the price for the 3:45pm train - (Leaves Paris at 2:09pm). For the return train on Thursday transfer is included for the train that leaves Laval at 11:41am or 11:11am (times can vary) to Paris. These train times are the only ones they are able to provide a transfer for.)
Single Room Supplement/US$250
*Pricing may vary depending on market fluctuation
If you are willing to share your room, you will not be charged a single room supplement. If you would like to have a room to yourself and are not willing to share your room, you will be charged the single room supplement at the time of booking.
After availability is confirmed, a non-refundable deposit of 30% and the completed and submitted registration form will secure your reservation. Final payment is due no later than 75 days before your arrival date.
April 29-May 4
May 27-June 1
October 28-November 2
Please contact us for cancellation policy information. Travel insurance is highly recommended.
Furnished upon request.
This exciting region is depicted below. You can also access Google MapsTM by clicking HERE.
*In some cases mapping may give clients a general sense of location due to changes in venue. Please inquire about specific location.