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Located in the beautifully historical quaint village of Gramont in the heart of Gascony, the Gascony Cookery School offers you a cooking course with a difference! You will receive an introduction to French cuisine that will hone your cooking skills and give you several exciting dishes and desserts to wow your dinner guests with. You will learn French recipes and techniques - from knife skills, pastry, fish filleting, foie gras, cassoulet, desserts, and sauces. Beginners, experienced cooks, and non-cooking participants are welcome to join.
The Gascony Cookery School pride themselves in offering an outstanding cooking holiday experience which extends to the accommodation they provide to all of the guests. Their standards are extremely high and they continually strive to make sure that their accommodation, furnishings, sundries, and level of cleanliness are met consistently to provide you with a trouble free and outstanding holiday experience. All rooms are traditionally furnished and refurbished to the highest standard whilst retaining the charm of the outstanding French 17th century buildings.
All rooms are based on an authentic style of a French Chambres d’Hôtes accommodation with added modern luxuries such as air conditioning in some rooms for those hot summer evenings in Gascony. All rooms have en-suite facilities, heating, and full access to a choice of three south facing terraces that they have there at The Gascony Cookery School.
Their holiday accommodation in the South West of France offers a great base to explore the heart of Gascony and visit such towns as Lectoure, Condom, Agen, and Toulouse. Within a short drive, there are the outdoor swimming facilities of St Clar and Fleurance. The historical town of Lectoure not only has an outdoor public swimming pool and one of the most outstanding examples of a Roman spa in France. Visit here for a dip in the soothing thermal waters and unwind with a relaxing body massage or revitalizing facial.
Once you have been shown to your unique room, you are encouraged to make yourself at home, start to relax, live the Gascon way, and enjoy the surroundings of our historic village Gramont which is home to only one of six national monuments in the Midi-Pyrénées, the Château de Gramont.
As the evening arrives you are invited to join for local aperitifs and hors d’oeuvres on the school terraces that look out to the Midi Pyrenees with unrivalled views of the Gascony countryside. This is a great time to meet other students and guests and for you to discuss the week ahead.
With the aroma of your first nights exquisite four-course dinner prepared by your chef David in the air and your taste buds experiencing local wines, your French cookery holiday is well and truly underway.
After dinner take the opportunity to relax on one of our three terraces, experience one of the stunning Gascony sunsets and soak in the atmosphere of our very unique location and Gascony lifestyle.
To make the most of your time at the Gascony Cookery School, they like to serve breakfast at 8:30 a.m. which consists of a traditional French affair of local breads, croissants from the local village of St. Clar and homemade preserves. There are also cereals, yoghurts, fruit, and a good helping of coffee, tea, and orange juice available.
Following breakfast it’s straight into the kitchen of Chef David who will conduct a short tour of the kitchen and an introduction to basic knife skills. Once your knife skills are honed its onto preparing a simple, French dressing and sauce suzette before beginning work on your pastry skills by preparing a Gateau Pithivers, an ornately decorated puff pastry dessert with a delicious crème d’armandes at its center.
With your first French dessert of the week successfully completed, you will then be given the opportunity to hone those skills even further by replicating Chef David’s famous pizza gersois, a freshly made pizza base topped with local onions, peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, and thinly sliced duck breast.
Your first morning will conclude with further patisserie practice as you prepare a pâte sucrée, a form of sweetened pastry, which will provide the base for the tarte aux pommes that you will make on Tuesday afternoon.
Following a traditionally long French lunch you will make your way across the road to the Auberge where Chef Bernard 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.
Bernard will share with you his tried and tested wisdom as to the best way in which to prepare his restaurants most popular dish before giving you a tour of his sixty five cover restaurant.
You will see and experience the difference between Bernard’s kitchen and David’s and the opportunity to compare these very different cooking environments and the difference in cooking for an intimate number of guests and catering on a more commercial scale.
Your next task with Bernard will be to make crêpes for the evening dinner and your sauce suzette prepared at the beginning of the day will be finishing ingredient to this traditional French classic. As the first day comes to a close you will return to Chef David’s kitchen to complete two final pastries; pâte sablée and pâte sucrée.
You will be invited to take a tour of the wine museum with wine in hand at Bernard’s restaurant and experience his signature menu gourmand: an haute cuisine experience in traditional Gascon manner that will include the three different types of duck foie gras that you prepared earlier. Bon appetit!
Breakfast will be at 9:00 a.m. because today you are off to market. With shopping baskets and shopping lists in hand you will make our way to the local market town of Fleurance. Here you will be able to familiarize yourself with the regional produce and select the fresh ingredients that you will be using in the afternoon class and during your time with us.
Fleurance’s market is a host to an array of tasty Gascon treats that are sure to whet your appetite. You will then continue on to the nearby Roman town of Lectoure where you will lunch in a local cafe before returning to the cookery school for the afternoon cooking class.
Chef David will begin by instructing you in the correct way to fillet a fish 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 with Chef David to focus on plating and general presentation skills. The fish in velouté sauce and tarte aux pommes that you prepared earlier will be the center piece of the evening’s menu, giving you the chance to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Breakfast will be served as usual, until 10:00 a.m., and Gascony Cookery School ask you to kindly vacate your room before 11:00 a.m. À bientôt!
Non-cooking guests can participate in lunch, dinner, and all excursions. Cooking tuition is excluded though.
David’s passion as a professional chef for French cuisine, made him move to Gramont in 2002. He and his wife Vikki specifically selected the Tarn-et-Garonne region, situated as it is in the heart of Gascony, for its famed gastronomic repertoire. David and his wife ran the chambres d’hotes and table d’hotes for four years, however the popularity of David’s cooking soon attracted the attention of talented local chef Bernard and from their newfound Franglais friendship the cookery school was born.
Bernard has owned and run a successful restaurant in Gramont for over 25 years and his traditional menu has earned him a respected reputation in the region. Bernard and David's vision was to design a program that would enable students of French cookery to work their way up from mastering of knife skills to executing impressive four-course meals in just under a week. They wanted to use their combined knowledge as professional chefs from either side of the Channel to make French cookery enjoyable.
Gascony still remains as one of the most "French" parts of France. It is largely unspoilt by tourism and retains a great deal of character and charm. Property prices, like everywhere, have increased recently, but the region still remains comparatively excellent value for people seeking a permanent residence or holiday home.
Gascony is the ancient name of a former duchy in South West France. Steeped in history these lands were ruled by the Romans, conquered by the Visigoths and then by the Francs. By the end of the 10th century, its dukes had achieved autonomy from the French crown but in 1052 Gascony fell to Aquitaine and came under English control in the 12th century.
It was the nucleus of English possessions in France until regained by the French at the end of the Hundred Years War (1453). The department of the Gers is the heart of Gascony, so often described as the Tuscany of France. It is a region of gently rolling hills, hilltop bastide towns and villages, an abundance of rivers and wide-open spaces.
Today, Gascony is a land of rich and fertile soils which has historically elevated its produce and cuisine to the top of the French culinary table. Gascony is still very much a farming region, a land of wheat, maize, and sunflower fields, and fabulous wines that are so often overlooked outside of France. Armagnac is the oldest of the French eau de vies and is still made by individual producers who care more for their product than the profits of a multinational business.
Gascony is famed for its garlic and is the true home of foie gras, the region is a gastronomic delight. Gascony is located in the department of Gers, one of the least densely populated departments in France. There are no heavy industry or auto routes. It has some of the cleanest air in all of Europe. It is therefore no surprise that Gascons live longer than any other people in France.
Local aperitifs and hors d’oeuvres and a four-course dinner prepared by your Chef David will be provided on the first evening. Daily meals will be served and prepared throughout the course.
Please book your flight to arrive at Toulouse-Blagnac Airport (TLS). Transfers are available at 70 EUR each way per car.
Take a Eurostar train from St. Pancras to Paris and then change for Toulouse.
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