6 Days Walnut Grove Cookery Course in Mayenne, France

  • The Walnut Grove, La Hunaudiere, 53400 Livre la Touche, Mayenne, France

Overview

French Cooking Holidays

This is your opportunity to stimulate your taste buds and revel in the stunning food cooked just for you by and with two professional chefs. Be pampered with luxury in an idyllic rural French farmhouse surrounded by a walnut grove. The opportunity of working so closely with such enthusiastic and knowledgeable chefs is an experience you wouldn't want to miss. Using the finest ingredients you will create light and balanced dishes full of distinct flavors with meticulous presentation. You will leave with a great feeling of achievement and satisfaction, making you want to come back for more.

Highlights

  • 4 days intensive cooking classes
  • Basic knife skills, chicken butchery, filleting trout
  • Kitchen management, menu planning, timing, plating, service
  • Making bread, pasta dough, pastries, and ice cream from scratch
  • Sugar work, chocolate piping, honey wafer baskets, tuille work
  • Daily breakfast, lunch, dinner
  • 5 nights accommodation
  • 4 days with instruction
  • English
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Your accommodation in the sympathetically renovated farmhouse is set in a walnut grove in the heart of idyllic rural France. The house is surrounded by its own gardens, where inclement weather you can play boules or croquet, or simply relax in the sun. The four luxuriously appointed en-suite bedrooms are situated on the first & ground floors and have stunning views stretching over the countryside.

This beautiful property has high quality ensuite bedrooms, open log fire and tranquil grounds, perfect for a relaxing gourmet break. Within a short drive you have the use of some top quality golf courses, sport facilities including canoeing and sailing at La Rincerie (10 minutes drive), or shopping at the nearby city of Laval. If you wish to venture further afield, within less than an hour drive you could explore the medieval cites of Angers, Vitr or Rennes.

We believe that Gourmet Breaks at the Walnut Grove are unique, because where else can you have a personal chef and butler at your disposal, all to yourself? Relax after your evening meal in the comfort of the guest sitting room with like-minded people. Exchange ideas and knowledge with new friends, aware that you all have the same aim - to make the cooking holiday an ongoing adventure.

Enjoying cooking is all about confidence, being relaxed and understanding your ingredients. Skillfully combining flavors, textures and presentation is within all of us, our 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'll experiment with new flavors and new techniques using the freshest ingredients with expert guidance. We believe that this is the ideal way of combining a holiday with culinary development.

You'll 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'll enjoy a 6-course gourmet dinner that illustrates the cooking style you'll be studying during your cookery course, with explanations by your chef hosts. It's 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 Italian bread's and even caramelized sugar baskets. This is followed by preparation of the evening meal, with gourmet dishes such as apple and goats cheese croustade with a roquette and walnut salad or Collops of monkfish glazed with a herb, mustard & brioche crust, served with saffron tagliatelle and a white wine, mussel and dill sauce.

After a light lunch, you'll get to enjoy some of the local culture with visits to a 19th century windmill producing buckwheat flour in the traditional method. Then, back to Walnut Grove for more hands-on fun in the kitchen, as you put the finishing touches on dinner. It's then time to sit down and revel in the stunning food you've learned to prepare. There will be a maître pâtissier who will come to teach croissants and macaroons.

On the last day, you'll 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: Arrival, welcome dinner

  • Saturday
  • 17:00 Introductory talk - Discussing aims and course structure
  • 17:30 Complimentary champagne
  • 18:15 Dinner, 6-course gourmet dinner

Day 2: Cooking classes

  • Sunday
  • 09:00 Breakfast (to include fresh croissants, breads and preserves, cereals, orange juice, yoghurts, tea and coffee.)
  • 10:00 Kitchen. Welcome, explore kitchen/equipment etc. Hands-on: Basic knife skills; care of knives, safety, sharpening, chop and slice onion, brunoise of carrot, julien of leek, vierge dressing.
  • 11:00 Demonstration: Leek and potato soup, cheese croutons
  • 11:15 Seasoning techniques: How to bring the best out of your ingredients.
  • 11:45 Hands-on: Bread making; plain, caramelised onion and thyme, mixed nuts, seeds and sultanas and dinner rolls.
  • 12:30 Hands-on: Chicken butchery.
  • 13:30 Lunch. Leek and potato soup, cheese, pickles, salad, homemade bread and olives.
  • 14:30 Demonstration: Chicken stock (white and brown), veal glace, red wine and shallot sauce.
  • 14:45 Demonstration: Prep salmon, Gravadlax of salmon. Hands-on: Filleting trout (one each) and prep mussels. Fish stock.
  • 15:50 Demonstration: Seafood chowder, fish stock, home-smoked trout and crab bisque sauce.
  • 16:30 Finish
  • 18:00 Aperitifs followed by dinner

Day 3: Cooking classes, farm visit

  • Monday
  • 09:00 Breakfast
  • 10:00 Demonstration: Pasta dough, followed by making chicken and foie gras mousse, and rich sweet pastry
  • 10:45 Hands-on: Tortellini, ravioli filled with chicken and foie gras mousse, and tagliatelle
  • 11:45 Menu explanation
  • 11:55 Hands-on: Menu prep
  • *Group 1: Chicken dish, Caesar salad.
  • *Group 2: Sorbet plates, lemon tart, iced lime parfait, honey wafer baskets, lemon zest.
  • 13:30 Lunch: Tagliatelli with a bacon, tomato and onion sauce, fresh bread and salad, followed by cheese and biscuits.
  • 14:30-17:30 Excursion - either: 19th century windmill, producing buckwheat flour in the traditional method, or local cider farm with tasting. This can vary according to availability.
  • 17:30 Back into the kitchen for aperitifs and to finish dinner prep, followed by dinner.

Day 4: Cooking class, cheese tour

  • Tuesday
  • 09:00 Breakfast
  • 10:00 Demonstration and hands-on: Ice-creams (caramelised banana, cinnamon) sugar work, chocolate piping, honey wafer baskets and tuille work.
  • 11:30 Tea and home-made biscuits
  • 11:45 Menu explanation
  • 11:55 Hands-on: Menu prep
  • *Group 1: Smoked salmon, guacamole, chili dressing, bread and butter pudding, tuile work, orange zest, sugar work, cinnamon ice cream, sorbet
  • *Group 2: Chicken liver parfait, sweet and sour sauce, monk-fish dish, deep- fried vegetables
  • 13:30 Lunch: Cold meats, salads, homemade bread and pickles followed by ice creams
  • 14:30 Hands-on : Traditional French patissier master class with Monsieur Vancilli - croissants and macaroons
  • 17:30 Aperitifs and finish dinner prep, followed by dinner

Day 5: Cooking class, free time

  • Wednesday
  • 09:00 Breakfast
  • 10:00 Menu explanation
  • 10:10 Hands-on: Menu prep
  • *Group 1: Spring roll starter, main course
  • *Group 2: Gravlax dish, pudding, sorbet and petit fours
  • 13:30 Lunch: Gourmet barbeque
  • 14:30 Leisure time, croquet, boules and generally relaxing.
  • 17:30 Hands-on: Finish kitchen prep, followed by aperitifs and dinner

Day 6: Departure

  • Thursday
  • 09:00 Breakfast
  • 10:00 Departure before midday
Activities
  • Golf course nearby
  • Kayak nearby
  • Night club nearby
General
  • Caf nearby
  • Fireplace in lobby
  • Garden
  • Restaurant nearby
  • Terrace
Services
  • Car rental nearby
  • Free! Parking
  • Shop nearby

French cuisine sample menu

Six-course gourmet dinner

  • Foie gras mousse, roast chicken jelly, truffle foam and onion tart
  • Caramelised scallops with a cauliflower pure scented with truffle oil
  • Sorbet
  • Pan-fried breast of duck with stir-fried vegetables and an oriental sauce
  • Passion-fruit and orange bavarois with orange crisps and a passion-fruit sauce
  • Selection of cheese and biscuits
  • Coffee and truffles

Cooking class sample menu day 2

  • Seafood chowder
  • Warm quail scotch egg salad with Aoli
  • Sorbet
  • Seared fillet of salmon served with sauted king prawns and a crab bisque vinaigrette
  • Iced coconut parfait
  • Cheese and biscuits
  • Coffee and truffles

Cooking class sample menu day 3

  • Chicken and foie gras tortellini with pea pure and a truffle foam
  • Caesar salad
  • Sorbet
  • Medley of chicken with smoked onion pure and a chorizo and lime sauce (sous vide)
  • Glazed lemon tart with iced lime parfait served in a honey wafer basket
  • Selection of cheese and biscuits
  • Coffee and truffles

Cooking class sample menu day 4

  • Duo of smoked salmon and guacamole with a chili and lime dressing
  • Chicken liver parfait served with a sweet and sour sauce
  • Sorbet
  • Spiced monkfish served with crushed new potatoes, spinach and a mussel cream sauce
  • Apple panacotta with apple gel and raspberry sorbet
  • Cheese and biscuits
  • Coffee and petit fours

Cooking class sample menu day 5

  • Gravlax of salmon with a prawn and cucumber dressing
  • Crispy duck and vegetable spring rolls with a sweet chilli sauce
  • Sorbet
  • Tenderloin of pork with roasted pork belly
  • Coffee and baileys cheesecake with chocolate and earl grey tea ice cream
  • Selection of cheeses
  • Coffee and petit fours

Chteau and City of Vitr: Built at the end of the 11th century on a rocky spur overlooking the Vilaine, this chteau 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.

Chteau d'Angers: The castle of Angers began in the 9th century as a watch post against the Norman threat, and 300 years later during the Plantagenet dynasty it was enlarged to a royal fortress. It now houses the biggest tapestry in the world - "The Apocalypse" 103 meters long, 4.5 meters high and comprising 70 scenes, the Apocalypse wall-hanging is today the oldest in the world of this importance. Angers is approx 1 hours drive away.

Chteau de Craon and its Park: Built a little before the Revolution, this grand country house is made of the Loire white stone, which dominates the perspective of formal gardens and of the town. Panelling and Louis XVI furniture in living rooms evokes the idea of a refined life in the castle. Over 42 hectares, the gardens and park form a whole that you can discover as you please, helped by the French-English written guide.

Ferme du Pressoir: Visit the Ferme du Pressoir, where cider has been made since 1871, and enjoy the ambiance of a traditional French cider farm. Taste cider made not just from apples, but also from pears, and sample the famous "Eau de Vie"

Fishing: There are a number of excellent fishing rivers: the Mayenne, the Erve, the Vaige, the Taude, the Treulon, the Ouette, the Oudon, and more anonymous or not well known ones, however also full of fish. Almost each town has its own lake, deep, well kept and restocked with fish for each fishing season. Daily fishing permits can be purchased on request.

Golf: There are two top class golf courses in the area, one at Vitr and another at Chang-les-Laval - both about a 30minute drive away. Les Rochers Svign is near Vitr, and is laid out in the grounds of the Chteau. 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 Chang-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.

La Rincerie: The sports and recreation park of "La Rincerie", in La Selle-Craonnaise, near Craon, offers a multitude of water sports: catamaran, windsurfing, kayak and "Topper"; that benefit from the incoming winds onto this 50 hectare lake. You can even practise sand sailing, or, if you like nature, you have ATB, archery, "swin-golf" (9 holes by the reservoir) and mini-golf. The reservoir is also of major ornithological interest, and offers lovely walks around the area.

Le Moulin des Gus: This windmill was built in 1824, and is the only one of its kind in the region. It has remained in the same family for 12 generations, and Monsieur Lemoine still fabricates buckwheat flour, or "bl de noir" in the traditional manner. Many of our courses include a visit to Moulin de Gus, which gives a fascinating insight into the traditional way of milling flour.

Museum Robert Tatin: After sixty years of travelling around the world, Robert Tatin returned to his native town, to sculpt a world deserving of the name "One thousand and one nights", which invites the visitors to dive into his fantasies. The approach is along a pathway bordered by giants, dedicated to people such as Picasso, Joan of Arc and Vercingtorix. In addition to his sculptures, the museum also includes paintings, designs and ceramics. The museum is situated in Coss le Vivien, just 10 minutes from the Walnut Grove, and to all those who visit, a truly unique experience.

Refuge de l'Arche: The Refuge de l'Arche in Chteau-Gontier has a story to tell about its animals; injured, sick, maltreated or abandoned - they are given a new life at the refuge when they cannot go back to their original environment. You will see, for example, the largest group of baboons in the world. Over 14 hectares, all was created (observation posts, overhangs, terraces) so that you can get close to the 850 animals (250 species) and take photos of them.

Valley of the Loire: Take a 2-hour drive to the heart of the Loire, to explore some of the best vineyards of the world, and an abundance of medieval castles.

GPS

Lat 0 59' 6" West, Long 47 53' 1" North (Driveway)

Lat 0 58' 57" West, Long 47 53' 2" North (Front Door)

Arrival by airplane

The closest airport is Rennes which is a 1 hour drive.

St. Malo / Dinard is a 2 hour drive.

Arrival by train

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

For information about the booking conditions, please send Walnut Grove Cookery School an inquiry.

Verified BookCulinaryVacations.com reviews

  • 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

Testimonials

  • 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."

    TripAdvisor website, edited

  • 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!"

    TripAdvisor website, edited

  • 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."

    TripAdvisor website, edited

  • 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!"

    TripAdvisor website, edited

  • 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."

    Trip Advisor website, edited

  • 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."

    Trip Advisor website, edited

  • 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"

    Trip Advisor website, edited

  • 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."

    Tripadvisor website, edited

  • Review by Jools from Victoria BC, Canada

    "The week I spent at Walnut Grove was the highlight of my 3 week trip to Europe. To start, the location is idyllic - a sleepy French village where we took our evening strolls after dinner and enjoyed the gardens and countryside. Accommodations were in a wonderful restored farmhouse on the property where we really enjoyed the food. An adjacent restored building houses the kitchen and dining room. The six course dinner on arrival day was probably the best meal I've been served ever. Period.Beautifully presented and tasting every bit as good as it looked. Maynard and Benedict are creative and enthusiastic chefs who really seem to enjoy what they are doing and it shows in their varied menu plans and platings. Days in the kitchen are fun and filled with demonstrations and lots of techniques to learn and practice. (Thanks Maynard for teaching the secrets of consomme - I've made the smoked tomato and chicken recipe twice since returning home, with fabulous results each time!)This is a hands-on cooking class where students are divided into teams and prepare the various courses that will be served at dinner each evening. I spent the week getting to know a great group of people from the US and Sweden. I look forward to returning to Walnut Grove, next time I'll bring my husband - he can spend the days biking around the countryside while I cook his dinner! Thanks Freya, Maynard and Benedict for a holiday I'll never forget!"

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  • Review by Gerald from Ohio, USA

    "My wife and I had a wonderful time at Walnut Grove. It was a really nice balance of cooking, dining, and fun side trips. We had a great group of seven of home chefs (you don't have to worry about your skill level in coming here or in coming as a solo traveler. A typical day starts with breakfast followed by a demonstration or two (how to fillet a fish, for example) and then hands-on practice.Then individually or in teams, you prepare progressively more items for each night's six-course dinner. This is really mostly a hands-on course - not watching the Food Network! After a relaxing outdoor lunch, there is more kitchen work and then dinner where you enjoy what you've created. Bring your camera because you won't believe what your food looks and tastes like!Days are broken up with some side trips and relaxation time so its not just all cooking. We visited a dairy farm for a cheese tasting and a windmill used for buckwheat flour grinding. The 2 chefs teach to create and plate food that would be at home in any fine French restaurant and make spectacular things seem incredibly easy. We couldn't recommend this more highly!"

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  • Review by Lisa from Melbourne, Australia

    "My husband and I have just finished an amazing week at Walnut Grove cooking school. This holiday gave it all - fun, new friends, fine wine, and excellent hands on learning in the kitchen. The two chefs Maynard and Benedict are incredibly talented and support real learning in the kitchen, how to understand cooking so you can further develop your skills with or without a recipe. I have learnt more about presentation and menu planning over the last couple of days than ever before.We enjoyed cooking each day with like minded people and shared 6 course meals each night (breakfast and lunch is pretty special too) If you enjoy cooking, want to really learn more, meet some wonderful people and stay in a beautiful setting in the French countryside I recommend a stay Walnut Grove. The Walnut Grove team are absolutely the best thank you Maynard, Benedict and Freya for a holiday we will remember forever."

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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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Mayenne, France

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

Speaks English

from --

6 days / 5 nights

Availability

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

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