Walnut Grove Cookery School

We offer 6-day hands-on gourmet cookery holidays. Top chefs, luxury accommodation, set in France - the home of gourmet cuisine.

  • Mayenne, France

Excellent 10/10

Based on 2 reviews

Speaks English

Offers starting at US$2,031


Based on 2 reviews
Offers starting at US$2,031
Price for:

6 days / 5 nights


Based on 2 reviews
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Maynard Harvey

Over the years, I’ve seen all kinds of chefs and teaching approaches and I believe that learning to cook should be a pleasure. I’ve got an eye for detail but while I’ll always be passionate about gourmet cooking, you won’t find me taking myself too seriously. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen so it’s got to be friendly and fun.

Verified BookCulinaryVacations.com reviews

  • V
    Review by Victoria Woodley from United States


    CONS Cons: I have no negative feedback at all!

    PROS Pros: This is quite honestly one of the best holidays I have enjoyed. Maynard, the chef taught us so much in such a short time. The accommodation is comfortable and location superb. Excellent facilities.

    10 Value for money
    10 Accommodation & facilities
    10 Food
    10 Location
    10 Quality of activity
    10 Overall impression

    2017-May-05 08:39:34

  • Review by Paula Nicoletti

    "We wanted a real cooking school and this was perfect! We wanted participation and we were eased into it, but by the end of the week, we planned the 3-course dinner. The Chefs always surprised us with a special course and we had to guess the ingredients! The country setting, the beautiful stone residence very comfortable and the number of participants (6-8) works for individual and partner participation. Our booklet with recipes and our apron were ready for us at 10 am, after a delicious breakfast! We were in the kitchen for most of the day, with some pause for coffee and a good lunch, but the time flew by."

    "Serious techniques with some fun along the way! We learned meal planning, with a drawing of our balanced plate first. Prep, decoration, cooking techniques, spun sugar, visiting chefs and of course decorating with chocolate. So many "take home" specifics we use daily. The day's end with a glass of wine ( very well priced) and relaxing with our great Chef's. Making new friends, culinary challenges and Chef's stories that are fond memories! Excellent value. Oh, and we did not gain weight!"

    BookCulinaryVacations.com website, edited


  • Review by a traveler

    "Really great week of cooking. Loved how with a small group any question was answered and that I had the Chef instructors full attention. Many techniques were covered especially 'chef tricks of the trade' and plating composition. Will be going back if more courses are offered for chefs. Definitely worth the money, great location and hospitality."


    TripAdvisor website, edited

  • Review by Donna from Canada

    "From my fabulous "room with a view" to the sensational food we prepared and ate I cannot thank Freya and Maynard enough - and their son Richard, for perhaps one of the best, most welcoming holidays I have ever had. Three cheers for Walnut Grove Cookery! See you all again soon!!!"


    TripAdvisor website, edited

  • Review by Robin Butler

    "If you're looking for a cooking experience in rural France, look no further. The cooking classes are professional and well devised for people of different skill levels. The location is beautiful with the property set within a grove of walnut trees and greenery. "

    "You are taken care of in five-star style, from the beautifully presented breakfast to start the day, rustic lunches and six-course fine dining dinners each evening at a beautifully set table above the kitchen. "

    "Maynard and Freya are professional, warm and generous hosts who take care of all your needs. More a cooking retreat than a class. "

    "My daughter and I loved every moment and hope to return in the future. In the meantime I'll be cooking and plating food at a whole new level!"

    Walnut Grove Cookery School Facebook page, edited

  • Review by Amelia Poole

    "I had such a wonderful experience at Walnut Grove with my mom. We both enjoyed gaining new skills and techniques that we will be able to apply to our own cooking when we get home. Freya and Maynard are such fantastic hosts and made us feel very welcome from day 1 all the way through. I would highly recommend joining a course."

    Walnut Grove Cookery School Facebook page, edited

  • Review by a traveler from Stornoway, UK

    "It is surprising these days to find something that exceeds your expectations but Walnut Grove does this. Freya and Chef Maynard run an exceptional program that starts with first enquiries - Freya does a wonderful job in being responsive to all questions and requests - and continues throughout the five days of the course. Maynard has immense experience and is able to take participants step-by-step through a range of menus that includes not only various French standards but includes bread and croissant making. An important aspect of the course is plate organisation and menu planning and each day we were taken deeper into this process until on the last day, we had to much of the planning ourselves, always under the watchful eye of the master! The location is wonderful to get away from it all, the accommodation first rate and the teaching and application first rate. I have done a few one day courses in Paris but this exceeds anything I have done previously and I go home with many new recipes and the confidence to try out the things I have learnt. All in all - a convivial and wonderful experience that exceeded my expectations. Thank you, Freya and Maynard."

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  • Review by a traveler from Johannesburg, South Africa

    "The memories of the five days we spent at Walnut Grove still linger! Maynard is a perfectionist and imparted this passion onto us; giving clever and impressive plating techniques with wonderful tastes and textures! Fabulous food and I learnt a lot, all tied together with fun, laughter, wine and glorious Maynard and Freya! They really worked hard to have our time at Walnut Grove amazing!"

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  • Review by Susan Sturrock from London, UK

    "It's difficult to imagine how the five-day gourmet cookery course at Walnut Grove Cookery School could be bettered. Chef Maynard is an outstanding teacher whose wide, high-level experience is balanced with a strong sense of pragmatism. Over four long days we scampered through scores of dishes - an astonishing array - with demonstrations and hands-on time, peppered with hints and tips galore - and a lot of tasting an laughter punctuating the rigorous schedule. The professional kitchen is a joy to work in, and incorporates an attractive mezzanine dining area where you savor your creations each evening. Everything at Walnut Grove runs like clockwork, thanks to Maynard's wonderful wife Freya who combines extreme efficiency with natural antipodean warmth - a rare and harmonious combination. The accommodation in the main house was superb; again everything was flawless. It's quite possibly the most intensely enjoyable five days I can remember, spent acquiring serious inspiration and new skills in the excellent company of other participants from Australia and South Africa, sharing a bottle of wine or two after a six-course dinner while swapping stories of the day. Hard to beat, thanks to Maynard and Freya, and I shall be back at the first opportunity."

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  • Review by a traveler from Florida, USA

    "When planning our honeymoon to Europe, my husband, a chemist by training who enjoys creating in the kitchen, was very excited to add a cooking school to our plan. He did a bunch of internet research and thanks to the great amount of info available on the website, and ease of communicating with Freya, selected Walnut Grove. I was a little intimidated by 4 days of cooking and to both convince me and be kind, my husband happily agreed to four days of activities of my choice on the trip (flower gardens ;). What a fantastic experience! I can't recommend Walnut Grove Cookery School highly enough. The school itself is a beautiful farmhouse set out in the french countryside. Rooms were spacious and beds very comfy. We started our mornings and spent many evenings chatting about our day in the lovely gathering room. The commute to the actual cooking kitchen was a walk across the yard, past the barrels full of flowers next to the grove of walnut trees :). With the fairytale setting, the real magic happened in the working kitchen. Freya, Maynard, and Emerson are truly amazing, welcoming people. Our first evening was a sumptuous six course meal, as beautiful as it was delicious. The rest of our time was spent learning the skills and art to create such a wonderful meal by ourselves, and on the last day we did! We did because the chefs were not only very skilled, and great teachers, they made it all so much fun! I've cooked everyday meals and special occasion meals for family and friends for 30 years - I had no idea I could learn so much about knife skills, about tasting, about the art in presentation, and my husband had the time of his life. We were a small class, just 3 of us, and it felt like learning with family. We were never hungry, never far from a good laugh, and never had to clean up! There was so much variety, and so much fun. All of my concerns about 4 days of cooking melted away. On our last evening, we didn't want to head up to the beautiful loft dining table where our evening meals were usually served. We absolutely wanted to stay in the kitchen and prepare our courses with Maynard and Emerson while we shared our meal. We said goodbye to new friends when we left. Since we've been home, our meals have gone to a new level. We often reference the huge package of recipes we received, and keep practicing the things we've learned. I had to ask my husband to slow down with all of the great breads and many fantastic courses because I was gaining weight - not from the vacation - but when we got home! We are extremely happy that we got to enjoy such an amazing experience!"

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  • Review by Stephanie Mayman

    "Fantastic cookery school. Great hosts and interesting participants. Well, the food was extraordinary; the nighttime dining - to die for and the lodgings - very specky! All in all a great holiday."

    "Steph Mayman"

    Walnut Grove Cookery School Facebook page, edited

  • Review by Joana Beardsworth

    "Jonathan and I had a fabulous time, we enjoyed the course enormously. It took me way out of my comfort zone (mince) and taught me methods of presentation that I would never have believed I could achieve. Now looking forward to using new ingredients and cooking methods at home. Lovely setting, knowledgeable and sympathetic instruction, a five-star working holiday! Thank you Walnut Grove."

    Walnut Grove Cookery School Facebook page, edited

  • Review by Karen G. from Henley-on-Thames, United Kingdom

    "The website was so stunning and packed with information. I knew this was the course for us. Freya too responded so efficiently to my inquiry and was so friendly it made me immediately feel that I wanted to book. We had such a fantastic foray into all sorts of techniques and tips of the trade that we had never come across. The menus were amazing and although "taste always comes first" (quoting Maynard), the plated food looked visually stunning as well as delicious to eat. We had great times over meals with the other course participants from all over the world. We made a last minute booking and Freya managed to squeeze us in by arranging for us to stay off site in a fantastic French Hotel and we were offered transport to pick us up and take us home every evening. This holiday really had a real wow factor and we will return with out a doubt! The chefs hit just the right note in their numerous but encouraging approach for us to stretch out of our comfort zones and learn more - it was a very supportive and fun environment. The best bit was no washing up how amazing is that- to make plenty of mess and not to clear it up! We are still experimenting with the recipes, have changed the way we cook pastry (lemon tart), made our own stock (the Maynard way)and have invested in an ice cream maker - so worth it for the G&T sorbet alone! We would definitely recommend this amazing holiday- it was so engrossing that you didn't feel that you had spent hours in the kitchen each day."

    TripAdvisor website, edited

  • Review by a traveler from Marbella, Spain

    "I went on the last course scheduled for this calendar year, and the last one for chef Maynard. Both chefs are brilliant and eager to share their broad knowledge and despite being a chef myself I learnt a lot. There was only 5 students so we each got individual attention. I don't need to gush about the location and the place itself as you can see for yourself from the photos that's it's exceptional. I went on the course to refresh my techniques and for new presentation ideas and I certainly got a lot out of the course. The food was great and my only complaint would be that there was way too much of it- 6 course dinner with huge portions every night meant I felt really full all the time.Now on to the bad. As one of the previous visitors said we felt rushed at dinner times and especially on the last morning. The courses were whizzing past- I mean a 6 course dinner in 1 hour? Whew! We commented on it several times and finally on our last night we were able to stretch it and enjoy ourselves more. Our last full day was a disappointment, sadly. We had been given the challenge of planning our last dinner the night before and went on to prep before lunch. We expected to have a BBQ and games (apparently there is a petanque and croquet set on the premises but we never saw either) after lunch, instead we were left to our own devices by the chefs for most of the day till after 5 p.m. It would have been nice for the chefs to interact with us.On the last morning we were told we'd leave at 10.15 to catch our train. I wanted a cup of coffee at 10am and the milk had already been poured down the sink, the fridge emptied and switched off. All the staff were rushing cleaning the place around us (including stripping the beds) and we almost expected them to ask us to stand up so that they could put the covers on sofas :-/ It was very obvious that they couldn't wait to lock up and leave. Sadly this is the predominant memory is it's the most recent one. All in all I'm glad I went as I learnt quite a bit and it felt like a holiday with amazing food and lots of laughs."

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  • Review by a traveler from Texas, USA

    "After looking online for cooking schools all over the world, I kept coming back to their well developed site. After 2 years of wishing, I decided to jump in and and reserve a spot. My husband is a nervous traveler in unfamiliar places, so I took the leap on my own. I've just returned home and keep reliving the experience in my mind. Maynard, Benedict, and Freya were so welcoming from the very beginning. Our bunch came from so many different places, but we quickly became a cohesive group.I've cooked for many years, but learned so many new techniques, from using a simple peeler to take out salmon bones to the much more complex task of making a sugar basket to go over desserts. WOW! The living areas, the teaching, the menu planning, every part of the experience was first class. Freya kept busy keeping the two chefs on task. She was dishwasher, manager, translator, driver, and totally indispensable. Maynard and Benedict kindly helped those of us that weren't as skilled, only occasionally rolling their eyes as we laughed at ourselves and our incompetence in piping chocolate or streaming sugar.They were all such fun and the experience was one of a lifetime. I'm going to recommend this course to everyone. If I could return in the future for the advanced course, I'd do it in a heartbeat. In the meantime, I'll have to be satisfied trying the myriad of recipes that they have on their website. If they ever put together a cookbook, I'll be the first to buy it."

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  • Review by Jackie D from Southampton, UK

    "In June 2015 we visited Walnut Grove with friends and what an experience to share and enjoy. It was terrific fun in every way, we learnt such a lot of new skills and it was so interesting to watch two masters of their craft at work, Maynard and Benedict. The accommodation was delightful and Freya was on hand to see to our every whim, from producing delicious breakfasts and lunches, which after a morning in the kitchen were perfect. Then of course we had the evening to look forward with gourmet food that we had helped to produce.I particularly enjoyed making pasta, which was great fun, and how we enjoyed eating it, with a superb sauce, plenty of parmesan and a lovely glass of vino, bliss. I would say to anyone thinking about this experience, do it, you will so enjoy it. As for myself, I would love to go back, the thought of the gin and tonic sorbet again is very exciting. Thank you everyone at Walnut Grove for such a fabulous experience"

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  • Review by Umurcan from Istanbul, Turkey

    "As a solo traveler, I took a regular cookery course for 5 days at Walnut Grove and it was one of my best vacations. First, it feels like you are literally living in a Michelin star restaurant all your time. All our dinners were 6 course gourmet testing menus. Secondly, you have an extensive hands on course, not only being taught the recipes but also so many techniques. The two chefs Benedict and Maynard are both amazing. I have never seen such good professional partners before.They are in such a good accord and they complete each other. Maynard gives you the feeling as if you are really working in a professional restaurant (which I must say I have quite enjoyed, as this was exactly the sort of experience I was looking for) in quite a natural way with all his perfectionism in his job (which helps you to understand a chefs approach), while Benedict answers all your questions very patiently while he is at the same time doing millions of things in the kitchen.Starting from our 3rd day, we have split into two teams and prepared various courses that we served to the other group at dinner each evening. So you are not only learning how to cook but also how to serve. Third, the location is idyllic. We were accommodated in a nicely restored farmhouse right across the kitchen building, where we had our breakfasts served by Benedict, took our lunches and some of our dinners. Freya is also quite a friendly host and a great guide.Finally, as a solo traveler, I cannot recommend any other place to meet some wonderful new people with taste. I have met two very nice sisters from US, two lawyers and one electric engineer from the UK. Thank you very much Freya, Maynard, and Benedict for this wonderful experience. Please do not change, keep your positive energy, because I will be very much looking forward to come again. A lifetime of experience for food lovers."

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  • Review by a traveler from Melbourne, Australia

    "Wow! What a fabulous 6 days we had at The Walnut Grove Cookery School in Laval France. Freya, Maynard, and Benedict made us feel so welcome from the time we stepped on the train until our final goodbyes. Under Maynards & Benedict's guidance and of course the "hands on" tuition, we learned so much and gained confidence in all aspects of cooking. Our last day challenge was to design, create and execute the main course and dessert.We had a small class just the 3 of us (8 is the maximum of students at any one time) and I was lucky enough to work with each chef in a one on one situation while my hubby John joined forces with Eliza. The course was very well paced. The beautiful Freya took us out on excursions to visit a working windmill and dairy farm which was fantastic. If your looking to do a cooking class in beautiful rural France, look no further. This is it!"

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  • Review by a traveler from Melbourne, Australia

    "The school is in a lovely setting in rural France. The restored farmhouse offered very comfortable accommodation and it is adjacent to the school. Classes are kept small and are led by 2 amazing chefs - my group of 6 was split into 2 teams for much of the time. The structure of the program is well thought out and you will learn so much over the 5 day period - especially in the areas of presentation. We produced 6 course dinners every night - all worthy of magazine photo shoots. I cant wait to go back!"

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