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Cooking Holidays with a French Professional Chef

This listing has one of the 10 most popular offers available in France

Prepare your mind and palette to be transported from the mundane, to an exciting exploration of flavour, smell, and texture as you learn the art of French cooking from a world-renowned chef. While you are fully immersed in this six-day, hands-on course, you will be learning valuable techniques from professional chefs, all while being surrounded by the beauty of the Mayenne countryside. You will be provided with extensive time in the school's state-of-the-art kitchens, and set a maximum of six guests per chef. This dedicated attention is a rare value, and results in Walnut Grove's classes filling up quickly throughout the year.

Meet the instructors

Eric
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Highlights

  • 4-day extensive hands-on cooking classes
  • Basic knife skills, chicken butchery, fish prep, stock, and sauces
  • Learn kitchen management, menu planning, timing, plating, and service
  • Learn with Chef Eric Duvin, the new owner and head instructor of Walnut Grove
  • Sugar work, chocolate piping, honey wafer baskets, and tuile work
  • Make bread, pasta dough, pastries, and ice cream from scratch
  • Daily breakfast, lunch, and dinner
  • 5 nights accommodation

Skill level

  • Beginner
  • Intermediate
  • Advanced

Styles


4 days with instruction in English
The organizer also speaks: French
Group size: Maximum of 6 participants
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Accommodation

Facilities

  • Dining area
  • Fireplace
  • Garden
  • Kitchen
  • Multilingual staff
  • Terrace
  • Free parking
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Internet access

Your accommodation in the renovated farmhouse “traditional longère”, is set in the heart of idyllic rural France. The house is surrounded by its own gardens, where we grow most of our produces the natural way, without chemicals.

The two luxuriously appointed en-suite bedrooms with exposed beams are situated on the first floor, and can accommodate up to four people

The high quality bedding (box spring and upholstered mattress), made up of two large twin beds (90×200) is particularly appreciated by tall people with sensitive backs.

Coffee and tea facilities in all rooms, free Wi-Fi point.

A third bedroom is also available, to be used for group booking.

When necessary we also work with local Bed and Breakfast.

The property professionally equipped kitchen is located on the ground floor of the farmhouse and has been exclusively designed for these culinary vacations. A spacious lounge area with log fire, high standard ensuite bedrooms and tranquil grounds, makes it perfect for a relaxing gourmet break.

In clement weather, guests are welcome to relax and unwind in this quiet and elegant setting, and enjoy a genuine experience of leisure, pleasure, gastronomy and wellness within the premises.

Program

Walnut Grove Cookery School is proud to announce Chef Eric Duvin as the new owner and head instructor of our well-respected cookery school in the French countryside. His passion for food and sharing his wealth of knowledge with others is what sets their gourmet cooking vacations apart from any other.

Enjoying cooking is all about confidence, being relaxed, and understanding your ingredients. Skillfully combining flavours, textures, and presentation is the essence of the school. Their aim at the Walnut Grove is to bring these qualities out, so that you have the ability to follow your own flair and imagination.

Each day, you will experiment with new flavours and new techniques using the freshest ingredients with expert guidance. Walnut Grove believe that this is the ideal way of combining a holiday with culinary development.

You will arrive on Saturday, mid afternoon. After some time settling in to your room, the course begins with an introductory talk to discuss the structure and goals of the program. Later in the evening, after complimentary champagne, you will enjoy a six-course gourmet dinner that illustrates the cooking style you will be studying during your cookery course, with explanations by your chef hosts. It is also a wonderful opportunity to relax and get to know your fellow guests.

Each day after breakfast, there will be both demonstrations and hands-on classes, ranging from basic knife skills to homemade breads and even caramelized sugar baskets. This is followed by preparation of the evening meal, with gourmet dishes such as braised oxtail ravioli, celeriac purée, and truffle foam, or strawberry and coquelicot charlotte, white chocolate and caramelised pistachio parfait

After a light lunch, you will get to enjoy some of the local culture with visits to a goat cheese making farm or a local cider place. Then, back to Walnut Grove for more hands-on fun in the kitchen, as you put the finishing touches on dinner. It is then time to sit down and revel in the stunning food you have learned to prepare. There will be a maître pâtissier who will come to teach croissants and macaroons.

On the last day, you will be challenged to use all the skills and knowledge acquired during the week as you work in teams to prepare and present the last meal with only a little guidance from the chefs. To relieve the pressure, a gourmet barbecue is served in the afternoon, followed by a game of croquet or boules in the garden. Then back to the kitchen for final preparations before sitting down to your gastronomic feast.

Walnut Grove French Cookery School holidays itinerary

Day 1 - Saturday: Arrival

  • 17:00 Introductory talk with complimentary champagne and canapés. Discussing aims and course structure.
  • 18:00 Six-course gourmet dinner.

Day 2 - Sunday: Cooking classes.

  • 08:45 - 09:15 Breakfast (to include fresh croissants, breads and preserves, cereals, orange juice, yoghurts, tea, and coffee).
  • 9:15 Time to explore kitchen and its equipment. Hands-on class on basic knife skills; care of knives, safety, sharpening, chop and slice onion, brunoise of carrot, julien of leek, vierge dressing.
  • 11:00 Demonstration of leek and potato soup served with croutons.
  • 11:15 Seasoning techniques on how to bring the best out of your ingredients.
  • 11:45 Hands-on class on bread making; plain, foccacia, caramelized onion and thyme, mixed seed and nuts, brioche.
  • 13:00 Lunch with leek and potato soup, cheese, pickles, salads, homemade bread.
  • 14:00 Demonstration of preparing chicken and foie gras mousse, braised oxtail, chutney. Hands-on class on chicken butchery, stuffed chicken ballotine.
  • 15:00 Demonstration of prep salmon, gravadlax of salmon. Hands-on scallop in shell lutée, oysters, mackerel.
  • 15:30 Demonstration of chicken stock, (white and brown) veal glace, fish stock.
  • Demonstration of crab bisque and home-smoked mackerel, smoked onion.
  • 16:30 Finish.
  • 17:00 Aperitifs and nibbles.
  • 17:30 Back in the kitchen to finish prep.
  • 18:00 Dinner.

Day 3 - Monday: Cooking classes, farm visit

  • 08:45 - 09:15 Breakfast.
  • 09:15 Menu explanation, demonstration of pasta dough.
  • 10:45 Demonstration / hands-on class on ravioli; filled with braised oxtail and chicken mousseline, tortellini, and tagliatelle. Hands-on menu prep / celeriac purée, beef Wellington, crème brulée, pralin, ice cream, brandy snap, caramel cages.
  • 13:00 Lunch with tagliatelle with a bacon, tomato and onion sauce, fresh bread and salad, followed by cheese and biscuits.
  • 14:00 Excursion to a goat cheese making farm or a local cider place (not guaranteed as Covid rules may apply).
  • 17:00 Aperitifs and nibbles.
  • 17:30 Back in the kitchen to finish prep.
  • 18.00 Dinner.

Day 4 - Tuesday: Cooking classes

  • 08:45 - 09:15 Breakfast.
  • 09:15 Menu explanation, demonstration / hands-on on sugar work, chocolate piping, honey wafer baskets plus tuile work. Sweet pastry, choux pastry, Braised pork belly. Hands-on menu prep: Seafood mousseline, dressing, sous vide chicken, chocolate tarte, and croquembouche.
  • 13:00 Lunch with selection of charcuterie, salads, and homemade bread and pickles.
  • 14:00 Hands-on class on traditional French pâtissier master class making croissants and macarons.
  • 17:00 Aperitifs and nibbles.
  • 17:30 Back in the kitchen to finish prep.
  • 18:00 Dinner.

Day 5 - Wednesday: Cooking class and free time

  • 08:45 - 09:15 Breakfast
  • 09:15 Menu explanation in the kitchen
  • 10:10 Hands-on spring rolls, gravadlax, pork sous vide, charlotte, biscuit à la cuillère, bavarois, chocolate parfait.
  • 13:00 Lunch with barbecue.
  • 14:00 Leisure time for croquet, boules and any final prep but generally relaxing.
  • 17:00 Aperitifs and nibbles.
  • 17:30 Back in the kitchen to finish prep.
  • 18:00 Dinner.

Day 6 - Thursday: Departure

  • 09:00 - 10:00 Breakfast.
  • Departure before midday.

Please note that itinerary is correct as printed but subject to change. The school reserves the right to alter its programs.

Included excursions

Depending on the Covid rules at the time, you will visit a goat cheese making farm or a local cider place.

Instructors

Eric Duvin

Location

Your accommodation in the renovated farmhouse “traditional longère”, is set in the heart of idyllic rural France. 30-minute north of Laval. Within a short drive, you have the use of some top-quality golf courses, medieval castle to visit in Vitré and Fougères, or shopping at the nearby city of Laval. If you wish to venture further afield, at about an hour's drive, you could explore the medieval cites of Rennes, Saint Malo, and St Michael's Mount.

Distances

  • Rennes-Saint-Jacques Airport (RNS) - 1-hour drive
  • St. Malo / Dinard - 1,5-hour drive
  • Nantes - 2-hour drive
  • Laval - 30 minutes
  • Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) - 3 hours

Food

French cuisine sample menu

Day 1: Six-course gourmet dinner

  • Homemade foie gras terrine with Sauternes jelly
  • Seabass filet, mussel risotto, and a pink grapefruit beurre blanc
  • Gin and tonic sorbet
  • Pan-fried breast of duck with stir-fried vegetables and an oriental sauce
  • Raspberry and lime bavarois, honeycomb, and meringue
  • Cheese and biscuits
  • Coffee and petits fours

Day 2: Dinner

  • Scallop in her shell lutée
  • Chicken and foie gras mousse, apple, and cinnamon chutney and toasted brioche
  • Pear williams sorbet
  • Seared fillet of salmon served with artichoke and hollandaise sauce
  • Iced tiramisu parfait
  • Cheese and biscuits

Day 3

  • Braised Oxtail ravioli, celeriac purée and truffle foam
  • Thai tiger prawn and crab bisque
  • Apple and calvados sorbet
  • Filet of beef Wellington, braised shallot and vegetable, wild mushroom sauce
  • Pear and lemon verbena crème brulée, brandy snap and pecan pralin ice cream
  • Cheese and biscuits
  • Coffee and truffles

Day 4

  • Seafood mousseline with a tarragon and basil dressing
  • Cheese soufflé with parmesan crisp and salad
  • Mojito sorbet
  • Medley of chicken with a smoked onion purée and a chorizo and lime sauce (sous vide)
  • Mini croquembouche on a chocolat ganache tarte
  • Cheese and biscuits
  • Coffee and petits fours

Day 5

  • Gravadlax of salmon scented with beetroot
  • Crispy duck and vegetable spring rolls with a sweet chili sauce
  • Bloody Mary Sorbet
  • Tenderloin of pork with roasted pork belly
  • Strawberry and coquelicot charlotte
  • White chocolate and caramelised pistachio parfait
  • Cheese and biscuits
  • Coffee and petit fours

Wine and other alcoholic beverages are not included, but can be purchased from the bar

The following meals are included:

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
  • Drinks

The following drinks are included:

  • Water
  • Coffee
  • Tea

The following dietary requirement(s) are served and/or catered for:

  • Regular (typically includes meat and fish)
If you have special dietary requirements it's a good idea to communicate it to the organiser when making a reservation

Things to do (optional)

Chateau and City of Vitré

Built at the end of the 11th century on a rocky spur overlooking the Vilaine, this chateau played a major role in the defense of the Breton border, and today is one of the finest specimens of medieval military architecture in Brittany.

Rebuilt in the 14th and 15th centuries and restored in the 19th and 20th centuries, it now houses a museum - opened in 1876 - which reveals its history and that of the town. Or stroll through the narrow streets of the old quarters, along the ramparts and back in time to the 14th and 15th centuries.

Fougères

There has been a castle in Fougères for more than 1,000 years as this site, on a promontory sheltered by hills and surrounded by marshes, was identified by the Duchy of Brittany as the perfect spot to defend its lands from the French.

The current castle dates from the 12th century and consists of three enclosures whose walls are dotted with towers: the most impressive is the Mélusine Tower. The castle, where history is brought to life via images and sounds, is a must-visit for both adults and kids alike and a walk around the ramparts is not to be missed.

The old town

The medieval town sprung up to the south of the castle around the River Nançon whose waters were used by the cloth-makers, dyers, and tanners; tanning was a by-product of cattle-breeding, which was a major industry in the surrounding area. The prettiest and most atmospheric part of the old town is Place du Marchix, which is lined with half-timbered houses.

Rennes

To visit Rennes is to step back in time, soaking up the city’s past through its monuments, characters, and key moments, from the Parlement Court and the Great Fire of 1720 to the Odorico mosaics, half-timbered houses, and bloody alleyways that were once serial killer Hélène Jegado’s haunts. A fresh take on Brittany and its heritage, a place where stories and legends are recounted, memories that will stick in your mind for years to come.

Saint Malo

The walled grey granite St-Malo citadel is the main tourist attraction for visitors to the area. With its atmospheric narrow streets, bustling bars, restaurants and shops, the citadel makes an ideal base for a long weekend break in Brittany.

Perched on a granite island, the citadel was originally only accessible by a long causeway. This changed in modern times with the construction of the inner harbours joining the citadel to the mainland.

Today, although the buildings give the impression of great age, they are almost all the result of a staggering reconstruction project which returned the town to its former glory after WWII. This project was only officially completed in 1971.

It is possible to walk almost the complete circuit of the walls and this refreshing promenade provides some wonderful vistas. In addition, the town’s beaches can be easily accessed from various points on the way.

Saint Michael Mount

A magical island topped by a gravity-defying abbey, the Mont-Saint-Michel and its Bay count among France’s most stunning sights. For centuries, one of Europe’s major pilgrimage destinations, this holy island is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as is its breathtaking bay.

This staggeringly beautiful location has long captured the imagination. The story of how the mount came to be a great Christian pilgrimage site dates back to the early 8th century, when Aubert, bishop of the nearby hilltop town of Avranches, claimed that the Archangel Michael himself had pressured him into having a church built atop the island just out to sea.

The Mont-Saint-Michel is one of Europe’s most unforgettable sights. Set in a mesmerising bay shared by Normandy and Brittany, the mount draws the eye from a great distance.

Golf

There are two top class golf courses in the area, one at Vitré and another at Changé-les-Laval - both about a 30-minute drive away.

Les Rochers Sévigné is near Vitré, and is laid out in the grounds of the Chateau. It is a superb eighteen-hole course, which has been used on several occasions to host the French Open Championship. It has an excellent clubhouse and restaurant.

The course at Changé-les-Laval runs alongside the river "Mayenne" - and boasts a full 27 holes. It has panoramic views of the surrounding countryside, and also has a first-class clubhouse and restaurant. Both these courses welcome day visitors - and are generally quiet weekdays.

Valley of the Loire

Take a two-hour drive to the heart of the Loire, to explore some of the best vineyards of the world, and an abundance of medieval castles.

Weekend cooking holiday

If you are interested in coming to the Walnut Grove on another date, please do not hesitate to contact them, it may be possible to arrange a new course date that suits you.

What's included

  • 5 nights accommodation
  • Excursion
  • 4 day hand-on extensive cooking course
  • Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
  • Tea, coffee, and soft drinks

What's not included

  • Wine
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Transport from train station

How to get there

Recommended Airports

Arrival by train

There is a fast train (TGV) that runs between Rennes and Paris, stopping at Laval train station.

Transfer from and to Laval train station is available on request. Please note that the school can only pick up clients from Laval on the 15:53 train (3:53 p.m.) - leaves Paris at 14:43 (2:43 p.m.). For the return train on Thursday, a transfer is provided for the train that leaves Laval at 10:03 a.m. to Paris. These two train times are the only ones the school is able to provide a transfer for.

GPS

  • 48.248732994956946, -0.9272131249189077

Cancellation Policy

  • A reservation requires a deposit of 30% of the total price.
  • The deposit is non-refundable, if the booking is cancelled.
  • The rest of the payment should be paid 30 days before arrival.

Value for money
Accommodation & facilities
Food
Location
Quality of activity
6 days / 5 nights
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Availability

This vacation is available from April to October with arrival on Saturday, departure on Thursday.

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