Join this cooking at the farm program with Lifestyle Vacations. A complete hands-on cooking class, this trip will enlighten you into the culinary world. From cooking classes, visiting the producers, and meeting artisans, this cooking holiday program promises you fun-filled activities that are both entertaining and enriching. Come and join this program if you want to learn how to make Haute cuisines for your home!
During this holiday, you will be staying in Walnut Grove Cooking School either in private room, shared double room, or double room. Nestled in a quaint village of Mayenne county nearby Craon and mid-distance from Château Gontier and Laval, the Walnut Grove is a beautifully restored typical farmhouse featuring four bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms, guest house, and a cooking school. It is founded about ten years ago by Chef Maynard, Chef Benedict, and Freya.
Cooking at the Farm program a six-day journey starting Saturday mid-afternoon to finish on Thursday after breakfast. It is Lifestyle Vacations’ pleasure to offer the complimentary rail station transfer from Laval, and the van transportation for visits as well. So you do not need to rent a car!
The Walnut Grove cooking school is directed by master Chefs Maynard Harvey and Benedict. Both have an extensive knowledge in gourmet Michelin-starred cuisine but above all, they are very good and patient instructors, simplifying the Haute cuisine recipes for home cooks and taking time to explain methods and steps of all recipes. The cooking program is limited to eight participants, and it includes seven hands-on and demo classes scheduled in the morning and in the afternoon.
All classes are taught in English. For a perfect teaching, you will have two instructors, one chef per group of four people. Along with the demo classes, you will learn methods and chefs tips to succeed in basic cooking such as seasoning techniques, filleting a fish and preparing a marinade, making cheese croutons, preparing veal and fish stocks, combining ingredients, choosing the right flavors associations, and more.
Other than hands-on classes, you will learn about the slicing and chopping methods such as brunoise and julienne. This is the key of a perfect cooking and nice presentation. You will also learn how to prepare and to cook three or four-course meals in being a well-organized cook. A part of the teaching concerns the presentation on the plate for appetizers, starters and entrees, and of course for desserts.
You will learn about the caramel and to make beautiful decorations with it. You will also learn to make plain and flavored breads. Other than that, you will experience different menus following the seasonal produce from the market.
A sample menu can consists of seafood soup, roasted quails with mushrooms and lentils, seared fillet of salmon with sautéed king prawns and a crab bisque vinaigrette, and glazed lemon tart with iced lime parfait. You will visit producers, meet artisans, and also enjoy relaxing time during the two afternoons free. You can also play pétanque, one of the national French sport!
Arrive at Laval TGV station after 2 p.m. for the transfer by van or meet Lifestyle Vacations directly at the Walnut Grove property nearby Craon. You will check-in and take a rest. Afterwards, there will be an introduction talk, discussing aims and course structure with complimentary champagne sparkling wine at 5 p.m. Your six-course dinner will start at 6 p.m. Stay overnight at Walnut Grove property.
After breakfast, join Chefs Maynard and Benedict at 10 a.m. in the kitchen to partake your first hands-on and demo classes such as basic knife skills, care of knives, safety, sharpening, chop and slice onion, brunoise of carrot, julien of leek, and vierge dressing. At 11 a.m., you will do a demo leek and potato soup with cheese croutons, followed by seasoning techniques as to how to bring the best out of your ingredients.
You will also participate in a hands-on bread making such as plain, focaccia, caramelized onion and thyme, mixed seeds and nuts, and chicken butchery. Afterwards, you will go on a lunch break. Your afternoon second class will be for two hours ending at 4:30 p.m.
This demo and hands-on class focus on chicken white and brown stock, veal glace, seafood chowder, and home-smoked trout preparation. You will have a bit of a resting time before the aperitif and dinner at 5:30 p.m. Stay overnight at Walnut Grove property.
After breakfast, join Chefs Maynard and Benedict at 10 a.m. in the kitchen to partake first of all your third demo class which is pasta dough for ravioli, tortellini and tagliatelle, chicken and foie gras mousse, and sweet pastry. Then, comes the hands-on class in two groups. The first one will prepare a chicken dish and Caesar salad, the second group will take the desserts in hands such as sorbet plates, lemon tart, iced lime parfait, honey wafer baskets, and lemon zest.
Afterwards, you will go on a lunch break. In the afternoon, you will visit to local producers for about three hours, including the 19th century windmill visit producing buckwheat flour in the traditional method. You will then have dinner and stay overnight at the Walnut Grove property.
After breakfast, join Chefs Maynard and Benedict at 10 a.m. in the kitchen to partake your fourth hands-on and demo class which is caramelized banana and cinnamon ice-creams, sugar work, chocolate piping, honey wafer baskets, and tuile biscuit. You will have a tea or coffee break before the second part of the class.
Same as Monday, in two groups, the first one will prepare a chicken liver parfait, a sweet and sour sauce, a monk-fish dish, and deep-fried vegetables and the second group will prepare smoked salmon, guacamole, chili dressing, bread and butter pudding, tuile biscuit, orange zest, sugar work, cinnamon ice cream, and gin tonic sorbet.
Afterwards, you will go on a lunch break. After lunch, pastry Chef Mr Vassili is invited to join the kitchen. Here comes the time of the croissant and macarons baking class for about three hours. This is your fifth class. You will learn how to prepare the croissants dough, how to shape pastry, and how to bake it.
Meanwhile, you will learn how to prepare macarons from scratch specifically the meringue and cream filling. You will then take a rest before having dinner and stay overnight at the Walnut Grove property.
After breakfast, join Chefs Maynard and Benedict at 10 a.m. in the kitchen. Menu explanation first followed by your sixth hands-on class set in two groups. You will learn how to prepare spring rolls, gravlax, main course, coffee and Baileys cheesecake, chocolate, and earl-grey sorbet. You will then have a barbecue lunch break and resting time.
You can experience a petanque or croquet game or you can go to Craon nearby little town for a visit and shopping. At 5:30 p.m., you are back to the Walnut Grove Cooking School and ready to attend your seventh and last class. You will prepare the farewell dinner. Stay overnight at the Walnut Grove property.
You will have breakfast at the Walnut Grove. Check-out is before noon. Afterwards, you will transfer to Laval train station by van. End of the tour.
Born in Paris and raised in the Loire Valley, Corinne has spent many years in the USA, working first for Hasbro Milton Bradley (Massachusetts and Rhode Island), and partnering with Birmingham Associates in Boston, then. Within her long professional career, Corinne has organized and guided numerous VIP tours and press trips worldwide. She has an extensive knowledge in France history, food, wine, and gastronomy, in general. She is the creator, owner, and director of Lifestyle Vacations France, and the founder of Paris-based Antilope Productions company and Côté Loisirs TV France.
This cooking holiday will take place in Mayenne, France. Less than two hours distance from Paris by direct train, the Mayenne County offers visitors a delightful mosaic of scenery ranging from moors and forests to groves, hedged farms, varied natural landscapes, and sparkling rivers. Here, the history left a rich heritage with magnificent chateaux, ancient market towns, and medieval churches in keeping the local style of stone walls, granite, and slate roofs.
In this rural destination, the good taste works with the good living. Mayenne is the destination for nature and food lovers. You find so many good and flavorful organic produce directly in the farms or on the local markets. Beef, chickens, all kind of dairies such as milk, cream, cheese, and more without forgetting the local beverage such as cider but also Poiré, a delicious pear sparkling aperitif.
During this trip, you will be served with daily breakfast, lunch, and dinner. These meals are accompanied by aperitifs such as wine, mineral water, tea, or coffee.
During your free time, you can play pétanque or croquet game or you can go to Craon nearby little town for a visit and do some shopping.
Please arrange yourself to arrive at Laval TGV Train Station. Transfer from and to the train station is included. Lifestyle Vacations will pick you up from the train station.
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