Gascony, France - 3 or 5 nights
Available March to October - Sunday to Friday
For an extraordinary cooking vacation, we invite you to a quaint village in southwest France. It is here where you will learn classic French recipes as well as the cuisine from the Gascony region. Your instructors are two talented and professional chefs. Classes will take place both at the cooking school which is on a hill overlooking beautiful fertile farmland, as well as in the nearby restaurant, walking distance from the school, where the owner here will provide his expertise as a French chef. Your lovely accommodations are right next door to the cooking school.
The professional kitchen at the cooking school was designed and built by your chef specifically for the cookery school. There is a large granite counter with stations for several students. Each student receives a set of knives to use and properly care for during the week - and you will learn the proper maintenance of knives, sharpening, choice of knife, cutting skills.
You will learn not only technique, but important dishes of the region such as Cassoulet, French pastries and desserts, foie gras, French sauces, soups and more. Choose from a five night or three night itinerary as well as a special charcuterie course.
This cooking holiday is very unique as you will have the opportunity to cook at the restaurant and will be held to very high restaurant standards in food preparation and presentation. Learn from the very best on this incredible learning adventure in a breathtaking part of France in a delightful walkable little village! If you are a moderate to advanced cook, inquire about our twice per year course for a course that is more detailed regarding the cooking skills you will learn.
FIVE NIGHT ITINERARY (Note: The three night itinerary is the first three nights of the five night itinerary, departing on Wednesday morning)
Day One - SUNday
An amazing experience is ready to begin!
Sette into your room and make yourself at home by taking a stroll around the tiny village to acquaint yourself with your new surroundings and its residents.
At 7pm meet us for local aperitifs and hors d’oeuvres, over which we will discuss the week ahead.
Day Two - MONday
Breakfast is served at 8.30am each morning and consists of a traditional breakfast of bread and croissants from the local boulangerie, served with a selection of cereals, yogurts, fruits, tea, coffee and orange juice.
At 9.00am your cooking classes will begin with a tour of the chef's kitchen and an introduction to basic knife skills. Following this you will prepare a Gâteau Pithiviers, an ornately decorated puff pasty dessert with a delicious crème d’amands at it’s centre, a suzette sauce and a simple French dressing.
Having successfully prepared your first French dessert of the week, you will then be given the opportunity to hone your knife skills further by replicating your chef's famous pizza gersoise: a freshly made pizza base topped with onions, peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, olives and thinly sliced duck breast.
The morning will conclude with a well deserved lunch on the terrace (weather permitting).
After a traditionally long French lunch you will be back in the kitchen for some more patisserie practice as you prepare a pâte sucrée, a sweet pastry, which will provide the base for the Tarte aux Pommes that you will make on Tuesday afternoon followed by pâte sable, the base for the Tarte au Citrôn that you will make on Wednesday morning. Then it is over to your other instructor's for the week at the nearby restaurant where he will introduce you to the art of preparing foie gras. You will prepare four different types of foie gras – mi-cuit, traditional, cru and pain d’épices – before turning your attention to another quintessentially Gascon dish: Cassoulet. Your chef will impart to you his tried and tested wisdom as to the best way in which to prepare his restaurant’s most popular dish before moving on to your next task of preparing crèpes to accompany your suzette sauce. Finally the owner will give you a tour of his sixty-five cover restaurant. In seeing both his kitchen and restaurant you will have the opportunity to compare both cooking environments to see the difference between cooking for an intimate number of guests and catering on a much larger scale.
At 7.00pm we will meet at the Auberge for a tour of the Wine Museum before dining here where you will feast on the chef's signature four course gourmand menu including, of course, the four types of foie gras you prepared earlier.
Day THREE - TUESDAY
Following breakfast, with baskets, lists and money at hand, we will make our way to the local market in Fleurance. Fleurance market is a host to an array of tasty Gascon treats that are sure to whet your appetite. Here you will be able to familiarize yourself with the regional produce and select the fresh ingredients that you we will be using in this afternoon’s class and for the rest of the week.
Then we are off to the nearby, delightful Roman town of Lectoure where following a little sightseeing, we will lunch in a local café before returning to the school for afternoon lessons.
The cooking class begins at 2.30pm and your chef will begin by instructing you in fish filleting before preparing the perfect velouté sauce as an accompaniment. You will then be given another opportunity to practice your pastry and knife skills by creating a beautifully presented Tarte aux Pommes.
Before dinner you will be invited back into the kitchen to focus on plating and general presentation skills. The fish in velouté sauce and tarte aux pommes that you prepared earlier will feature on tonight’s menu, giving the chance to enjoy the fruits of your labor!
DAY FOUR - WEDNESDAY
Following breakfast you will be back in the kitchen to put your newly acquired knife skills to the test by boning a chicken to create a sumptuous ballotine de poulet. Following the preparation of the chicken, you will make a rich, mushroom sauce as an accompaniment.
Next on the morning’s itinerary is a light and refreshing tarte au citron and an entrée of Soupe Aux Deux Poivrons (Two Pepper Soup), a starter whose unique presentation never fails to impress at a dinner party.
Lunch will be followed by a visit to the village's seventeenth century château; a well preserved Renaissance castle complete with period furniture and tapestries.
At 5pm you are invited back into the kitchen to complete the final preparations for this evening’s meal. But if you'd rather relax, that is fine too!
You will spend this evening with your hosts and you will dine on all three dishes that you will have prepared earlier in the day.
DAY FIVE - THURSDAY
After breakfast we head over to the restaurant kitchen to prepare five dishes over the course of three hours. The focus this morning will be on French desserts. You will prepare crème patisserie, crème brulée, crème caramel and Mousse au Chocolat before switching from sweet to savory ingredients at the end of the morning to make the most iconic of French sauces; la sauce béchemal.
Next you are back to the cooking school kitchen to finish this morning’s work practicing sugar spinning and preparation of the reduction sauce; jus de vin rouge.
Following lunch at the nearby restaurant we will set off promptly at 2pm for a tour of the area. You will visit a fascinating, local water mill before heading off for a tour of the beautifully preserved, medieval fortified village of Laressingle. From there we visit the Château de Cassaigne, Condom’s acclaimed Armagnac distillery, where you will learn about the history of this local brandy while indulging in a short optional degustation. Finally we visit the delightful village of La Romieu, famed for its sculptures of cats and possessing of a fabulous – if not slightly bizarre – history.
This evening you will dine at the Auberge and your menu will include the cassoulet you prepared on Monday afternoon and the desserts you prepared this morning.
DAY SIX - FRIDAY
It is time to say farewell. Breakfast will be served as usual with checkout before 11am.
*The content or order of the itinerary may change depending on dates, availability of services or activities, local festivals/holidays, weather constraints, etc. Menus are samples and may vary according to the season
A minimum of 1 participant 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
Nearest airport - Toulouse Blagnac Airport, 50 kms/1 hour by car
Near train station - Agen, 35 kms/ 40 minutes by car.
*These details are provided as additional information. Please check below to see if transfers are included in this tour.
FIVE NIGHT PROGRAM AND ADVANCED PROGRAM
THREE NIGHT PROGRAM AND THREE NIGHT CHARCUTERIE PROGRAM
(Non-participating guests are welcome on all the excursions and join in at all the meals)
*Pricing may vary depending on market fluctuation
After availability is confirmed, a US$350 non-refundable deposit and the completed and submitted registration form will secure your reservation. Final payment is due in full 75 days before your arrival date.
FIVE NIGHT COURSES
April 30-May 5
May 7-12 (Advanced Program)
May 28-June 2
August 27-September 1 (Advanced Program)
Please inquire about our Fish and Crustacean Course:
*Please inquire about alternate dates and shorter stays
*All cooking lessons
*Meals including excellent quality locally produced wine, tea and coffee
*All excursions (and pocket money for the market trip)
Airfare, travel to the cooking school, personal expenses, wine/beverages other than provided at the school are not included.
For further inquiries or to register, click here.
Please contact us for cancellation policy information. Travel insurance is highly recommended.
Paul M., Seattle, Washington"This trip far exceeded our expectations. The instruction by the two chefs was outstanding and the accommodation was very pleasant. We can highly recommend this particular cooking school".
Claudia W., Mexico"We had the best experience with AGH, we were guided to choose the excursion that best met our needs. We ended up in the perfect place. This was one of the most enjoyable vacations I've ever taken."
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.