Client Comments about Figline Valdarno - Lesson with Chef Claudio
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We had a great time during our morning cooking class with Chef Claudio. He allowed us to be very hands on in the preparation of the food with a great deal of knowledge and patience. His kitchen was beautiful and the ingredients were so fresh and the food turned out delicious! Chef Claudio’s hospitality and kind personality made for a wonderful experience!
I had a great experience booking my trip with The International Kitchen staff.
Janelle G., IL
Our cooking class with Chef Claudio was great! He was a delightful teacher and it was a joy to cook with so many items that he grew in his garden and orchard. We had such a fun time cooking and the dinner afterwards around his pool area under the stars was truly memorable. Chef Claudio did move the train time up one hour as the 4:12 train is almost always late in the summer months. We had no idea who was supposed to meet us at the station but they found us with no problems. They also got us back to the train station before the last train of the evening. It was very hot the day we had our cooking class, but his classroom kitchen was a little cooler than it was outside. As a note to others who would be taking this class in the summer months, there is no air-conditioning.
The Chicago staff was very helpful in the planning.
My 9-year-old daughter and I took a class with Chef Claudio. It was truly an amazing experience I will never forget. I myself am a chef but my daughter was the youngest person he has ever taught and he was so wonderful & patient with her. She described it as the best day of our vacation. Chef Claudio was warm & welcoming and covered all the dishes I had requested and even more. He threw out tips and we made the most amazing food. That evening my husband joined us for dinner and we ate all the wonderful food. The setting was so romantic and the food was beyond delicious. I would recommend taking a course with this chef & promise you will have a spectacular time in his kitchen. BRAVO!!!!
Melissa M., CA
Excellent experience. Chef Claudio was friendly and a very good instructor. He showed us basic techniques for making pasta and pizza dough as well as giving tips on cooking. He allowed us to be very hands on and gave good feedback to how we were doing. Could not have gotten a better class. Would and have highly recommended this class.
Robert F., FL
The class was totally wonderful. Chef Claudio was a master at keeping us engaged, laughing and preparing what was a great meal. We did more than we imagined possible. One of our top vacation events of all time. We were together with a mother and daughter from the USA, and we laughed, worked and ate our way through an amazing day.
Thanks for helping us set this up. As Chef Claudio said often, “perfecto”’. No other word does the experience justice. Thank you Chef Claudio!!!
Doug T., TX
The experience was WONDERFUL! Claudio met us at the train station with no problems. We got served breakfast and it was just myself and my boyfriend in a private class. He asked us what we wanted to make and got to do 7 different dishes. Truly the best experience we had in Italy!
The International Kitchen was very helpful in booking.
Caroline D., NJ
Chef Claudio and his staff were outstanding. He is an excellent teacher, making the cooking experience very simple and easy to follow. A couple of us are experienced in the kitchen, and we learned valuable tips. I would highly recommend the day class and a very good introduction to Italian cooking.
The International Kitchen Chicago staff were very good with the arrangements and follow up questions.
John A., CA
Chef Claudio was incredible!!! My mom and I scrambled to find some cooking lessons VERY last minute when the ones we had originally booked were CANCELLED the day before we were supposed to have them. I was e-mailing everyone I came across online and begging them to take us. Not only did Chef Claudio fit us in, but he did so on a day that he was not advertised as being available on the website— incredible!! We were so relieved and happy to have found someone and were completely blown away once we got up to his house/restaurant. He taught us how to make so many things including fresh pasta, beef stew, vegetables that were picked right out of his garden, and desserts. Everything was so simple and delicious and Claudio really seemed to want to show us as much as he could during our time there. It seemed as if it popped into his head, he offered to show us how to make it all the while asking us what we liked, what we wanted to learn how to do, and what our tastes were. He was so quick and efficient and even though we prepared something like nine dishes it didn’t seem like it was all crammed in or like it was too much to handle. He also kept making sure we were both comfortable with the pace at which we were moving. It was so great! He answered all of our questions and was so patient with us. After everything was prepared, we were led outside to his beautiful outdoor dining area and were served wine and our meal by his charming waiter. Everything was so delicious, by far the BEST MEAL we had during our stay in Italy. We learned so much about real Italian cooking and how and why Italians eat the way they do with all of their courses. This was the absolute best part of our trip and I can’t recommend enough. Don’t be scared off by the price, it’s worth EVERY CENT.
Larissa R., MA
Chef Claudio was fantastic. He loves food and teaching others to love it as well. He has no ego, and really explained everything to us. The food was FRESH and the class was well-paced. The fact that he served us the meal we prepared was the perfect example of what a great host he was.
Chef Claudio was wonderful; very caring, kind and comfortable to be with. His sister is wonderful as well. I only wish I had taken a few notes as he didn’t provide recipes until after our visit (which I understand) but it might have been helpful to jot down a few things.
Andrew H., CT
It was delightful, very hands on and learned not only new recipes but hints about better cooking the dinner (we made) was delicious and we enjoyed the other “students.” The chef has a lot of energy and the only problem was we all lost track of time and almost missed the last train back to Florence – I was surprised Claudio and his sister didn’t watch the clock to make sure we wouldn’t need to sleep over! All in all, one of our best memories of the trip. We did get a bunch of recipes emailed, but it didn’t include some of the dishes we made, so I will likely email back and ask for another recipe or two of the specific dishes we made…
Karen L., CA
This cooking experience with Chef Claudio was one of the best highlights of my trip to Italy. He is a most gracious host and a very excellent chef. Being a novice cook myself, I’ve learned to taste, smell, and appreciate food at it’s best. And what I thought was too difficult to do, I am now confident to try and make fresh pasta and tiramisu and the rest of the dishes at home. But the best part was sitting down at the end of the cooking class, being served the delicious dishes we prepared, drinking good fine wines and enjoying the company of new friends made at the cooking class that day. Grazie molte!!!
Rowena B., HI
At about 9AM we boarded the train and at exactly 9:13 it departed. We rode through some beautiful countryside two stops, arriving in Figline Valdarno at exactly 9:37. Claudio’s sister Sabrina was waiting for us. She had a very small car so it was a good choice to leave the luggage behind! We made the short drive out to Relais Torre Guelfa where Claudio greeted us and offered cappuccinos. He and his sister were both very nice and spoke English well. The grounds are beautiful. If we had to do it over again we would have spent the night in one of his 5 guest rooms. There was another group just leaving. They had just completed a week long cooking class and told us it was one of the best experiences of their lives! We sat in the small quaint dining room sipping our coffee. There are only about 5 tables. The walls are lined from floor to ceiling with expensive wines, liquors, grappa and scotch. Claudio told us he has one dinner seating per evening, since 95% of his guests are local Italians they arrive later in the evening and take 4-5 hours to dine. He gave us both aprons, said we didn’t need to take notes as he would e-mail all the recipes. Everything that we learned was amazingly simple but the flavors were incredible. One would never have guessed how easily we prepared this feast. We made risotto using asparagus right from the garden; tomato bread soup with leeks and basil; beef stew; fresh ravioli stuffed with potato/cheese/rosemary in an alfredo sauce; a venison sauce for pasta and chocolate souffle. He gave us lots of tips too like never cook with an oak flavored wine, start veggies in cold olive oil, meats in hot olive oil; don’t use extra virgin olive oil for cooking, the heat makes the resulting flavor no different than using regular oil. We then sat down with a fabulous bottle of wine (Rigoloccio Cabernet Aliente) and a huge meal (we didn’t just taste, we ate everything that we made!) We were stuffed! Everything was so good we couldn’t stop eating. John even had another cappuccino after the meal. This class and meeting Chef Claudio was definitely a highlight of the trip so far. My husband actually had fun (and maybe will try cooking at home now)! I took some photos of the grounds, played with their two cats a bit and saw the four 2-week old kittens (very cute). Sabrina drove us back to the station, helped us to buy a ticket, made sure we stamped it and directed us to the platform where we caught the 2:20PM train.
Linda H., NH
We’ve never done a cooking class abroad, but it was one of the best memories. Partially because of the cooking, but mostly because of Chef Claudio and his personal touch that made this a great time. He was an amazing teacher and very comfortable to be around. Everything was perfect.
Adam & Jennifer M., IL
Chef Claudio was very personable and friendly… It was just the two of us which was even better and the menu was extensive and fun to learn especially one on one. I would recommend it and found the experience to be very positive.
Molly W., CA
We have just recently returned from a wonderful cooking experience with Chef Claudio. My son( age 15), my mother (age 80), and I had a fabulous time. Chef Claudio greeted us enthusiastically in his kitchen at his home. He asked our preferences and we immediately set to work. We could not believe that we would actually prepare 7 dishes! Before this experience, my son’s major culinary accomplishment was making macaroni and cheese from the box. Now he is planning on preparing the main dish for our next family meal! Chef Claudio took great care to explain reasons for preparing foods a specific way. I learned new methods and was surprised by the skills that I took in. Chef Claudio was a fabulous teacher and we have not stopped talking about our experience or the recipes we made. We have great plans to prepare a full meal for our family and friends. Thank you to The International Kitchen organization, and thank you most of all to Chef Claudio for our wonderful time.
Andrea Y, CT
Claudio was very friendly and appeared to enjoy the experience. He was an excellent teacher and was happy to tailor the experience according to our needs. I would have no hesitation in recommending this class to others.
Timothy B., Sydney, Australia
he experience was outstanding. Chef Claudio was a great host and teacher. he got involved to extent we wanted….let us do what we wanted to do…was hospitable…my sister was ill and he put her up in a guest room. he educated us on growing fruits and vegetables while we walked his beautiful estate. I would highly recommend him to anyone interested in a cooking class. Very satisfied!! [The International Kitchen staff] the team was outstanding and communicated all relevant info…very helpful and courteous staff!! Great job….great experience….would do it again in a heartbeat.
Martin A., NJ
Chef Claudio created a full experience: everything from the capuccino prior to starting, to the tour of the garden, to the use of the professional kitchen, coupled with his experience and savvy and patience and joy made the day truly memorable. In the 3 hours we were with him, we prepared 8 dishes. Most of these were new to us, and those dishes which weren’t, he gave us new approaches with which to prepare them. His expertise and obvious commitment to his profession and his individual students made the time spent with him a great joy.
We had a wonderful time and learned alot about the regional area cuisine. We found Claudio and his assistant were very informative to our questions. We really appreciated that we were asked if we had any dislikes or favorite foods that we wanted to learn how to make. The food we did prepare was very tasty as well as appealing in sight. We were also impressed that Claudio took the time to greet all his guests and frequently came out to see if everything was fine. At the end of the evening he had his assistant take us back to the train station to go to Florence. I would highly recommend the experience to other travelers visiting the Florence area. My husband who is not a cooker learned some recipes he feels he can do by himself. Thank you again for all your help. Cathy D., MI
This was one of our favorite days in Italy. Chef Claudio is a amazing teacher! He is so patient and kind when he is teaching. The food — I can not even start to tell you how wonderful it was. Italy and taking cooking classes was my son’s graduation gift. He is going to Culinary school in the fall. When he is asked what was his favorite part he always says the cooking class. We cooked so many different things, he asked what foods were our favorite and gave us choices. We are still talking about our lunch!! Thank You Chef Claudio, you are a Fantastic Chef!! Your Restaurant is beautiful and your staff took great care of us. We cannot wait to come back. The International Kitchen staff [was] so nice to me. I had so many questions and they were very helpful. I will refer your company.
Paula and Jacob M., AL
Chef Claudio is a warm, understanding and most even-tempered individual—rare in the world of professional cooking. He accommodated the four of us with grace, and had us make a meal to our choosing — even had to send out for a chicken which arrived in moments. We were then served our dinner in the lovely restaurant. The evening we spent with Claudio was very clearly the high point of our two weeks in Tuscany. Chef Claudio is certainly the Michelangelo of the kitchen.
Arnold K., NJ
Chef Claudio was fantastic. We may return next year with our Gourmet Group. If we do we definitely would want to be with Claudio. His skills as a chef were the ultimate, he was very patient and friendly. This experience was one to be remembered for many years. We had a wonderful time and we are excited about possibly doing it in the near future. Thanks again,
Bill and Diana M., CA
I really enjoyed being able to have the class in Chef Claudio’s kitchen, to see how a chef really works on a day-to-day basis! Chef Claudio and his assistant were both very nice and freindly and receptive to our many questions, and of course the food was great.
Sara C., UK
he evening with Claudio was fantastic! We couldn’t have asked for a better chef or setting. Not only is he a wonderful chef, but he was a terrific teacher – he gave practical advice, shared hints, got us involved with hands-on preparation and was friendly and charming. This was an experience of a lifetime! We would highly recommend this cooking class – what a great way to experience authentic Italy! [The] information [provided] was good – maybe guidelines about what appropriate dress would be (the kitchen is extremely hot – you need to be comfortable) and bring materials for taking notes.
Class with Chef Claudio was excellent. Started with coffee at his restaurant in Figline Valdarno then went to his Country kitchen faciltiy. He was assisted by a young assistant chef named Nicola. It was very well organized, he explained everything, was very personable and patient and we all learned a lot. Especially enjoyed the lunch we prepared and the excellent wines to match.
We were part of a party of eight and I think we would do it all again and will certainly recommend this to our friends.
Thought Claudio was very friendly , patient and set a perfect pace for the class. Really cemented my appreciation for the simplicity of italian cooking needing only a few perfect ingredients
David W., Canada
Chef Claudio was enthusiastic, charming and open to cooking whatever we liked. When we arrived he asked if we wanted to watch or cook. When we said cook, he was very pleased. He taught my daughter many different techniques, and helped me learn many new things about cooking ( although I thought I knew them already!). After three hours and at least 11 different dishes, we were seated in his beautiful restaurant and Chef Claudio served us dinner himself. He also saw to it that we made our train back to Florence and had us driven to the train station. I highly recommend this chef as a great option for cooking in Tuscany.
Bobbi G., MI
Had a great experience working with the chef at Torre Guelfa and preparing several dishes with him. We were able to get a feel for how the Italians cook with fresh ingredients and make wonderful recipes with the foods (seasonal) that are available to them. The chef was very knowledgeable and friendly. The food was superb!
Lillian & Ed Y. , IL
Last night my wife and I returned from Italy. We are very glad to be home but we can honestly say that this trip was hands down the best vacation we have ever enjoyed. The country, the art, the food, the people were all fantastic but one of the highlites which stands out of all the others was our day venturing down to meet with Claudio for a day of cooking. This man was patient, responsive to our presence and seemed to really enjoy his time with us as we enjoyed his company. It was obvious from the moment we arrived that Claudio would make this day special and the man did not disappoint. We are definitely going to return and under the International Kitchen program. Your hotel in Florence was lovely and the day as we mentioned was as good as it gets. Bravo Karen!
Mike & Kim K., CA
We had a marvelous time with Claudio. It was one of the highlights of our 3 weeks in Italy. We actually found Figline very easily; it was finding the restaurant that gave us the problem. We arrived almost 30 minutes late but Claudio was very understanding and we immediately went to work. We talked about our preferences in food before we started to cook and he steered away from shellfish because I don’t like it. In all, we made 7 different dishes, all were wonderful. We made appetizers to dessert! After we finished cooking in the kitchen, Claudio brought out a bottle of champagne which we enjoyed in the kitchen. We were then seated in Torre Guelfa Dining Room where we enjoyed the fruits of our labor. During the meal we were served 2 different types of wine to complement the meal. Thank you so much for all your help in planning this cooking class, and then re-scheduling it after 9/11. We have the fondest memories of that day, and look forward to scheduling another class when we travel again.
Star & Barry S., CA
One day cooking outings are just great for those travellers who want to add a special day to their trip, yet retain the flexibility of moving around Tuscany. Eric and Sophie of Torre Guelfa restaurant in Figline Valdarno just can’t do enough to make this a great day for you! I have some great pictures of Chris and I cooking in the kitchen, and then enjoying the feast when our wives joined us at the end of the morning.
Glenn M., Canada