Client Comments about Walnut Grove Cooking School
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An excellent experience! Very well-organized. Superb one-on-one instruction. Friendly, open folks. Great, contemporary kitchen. The housing was beyond expectations in a 14th-century totally renovated farmhouse with all amenities including kitchen, full private baths, “snacks” and breakfast served each morning. We were a total of 7 students, with two full-time chef instructors, both of whom were very knowledgeable. The little village was only a 15-20 minute walk away, along country roads and through fields of flowers; we became quite friendly with the local barmaid, who opened her homemade stock of the wonderful apple brandy “Calvados” each evening after dinner. My sister, Barbara, who was an “accompanying person” (did not cook) was welcomed with open arms as a guest of the group. Four of the students were Brits; two from Wales. Friendships formed. For me, the meals we prepared were far too complex for my day-to-day style in North Carolina, but that is of no matter, as what I wanted to learn was how great chefs prepare and present fine dining in a formal setting. That, I got.
We LOVED Maynard, Freya, and Benedict. The experience was wonderful. They had a great balance between hands-on and demonstration. The recipes were easy to follow, and they welcomed any questions. We ate like kings and the accommodations were terrific. We had 6 total in our class which was perfect. We never felt rushed and I learned a lot of new techniques. I would like to do the advanced class in the future. The program packet was great. All the information we needed was included. The only thing I would have liked to know prior to our visit is how many other participants would be attending the class. The staff was great and answered any questions I had prior to the trip quickly. I had never visited France before, so any question I had on transportation, what was included in the rooms, etc, was answered right away. I would suggest including in the information packet that soap and shampoo are not included at the school overnight rooms (for us who are used to American hotels).
Diane M., PA
My experience with the “Walnut Grove” commenced with the personal and efficient correspondence with the staff who were in contact with me from The International Kitchens as soon as I made my first inquiry. I was treated with respect and consideration when confused by some aspects of the course…Nothing was left to chance and all areas were explained to me and taken care of. My Scottish Mother-in-law did put some doubt in my mind when she told me it would be a hoax, after all I had paid all that money!!! I was so delighted(and relieved) when Freya from “Walnut Grove” met me at Laval station with her sign and her enthusiasm and genuine friendliness putting me at ease immediately. I can not say enough about my 5 days with the team in the Loire. My accommodation was excellent…The Chefs, Maynard and Benedict were friendly, professional and it was a pleasure to see them work so well together. The kitchen was clean and functional and everything was explained and our introduction to the week presented with attention and an obvious passion for their chosen careers. The rest of the team, down to 4 of us with Volcanic Ash presenting a “no show”, were delightful which obviously added to the ambiance and experience. I actually love cooking and really did this course to fill in time whilst my husband was working elsewhere in Europe, but I learned an enormous amount and the boys took into account people’s ability and level of interest and worked with us all showing their willingness to be flexible and share their excellent knowledge. Our excursions were arranged by Freya and guided by her were also well thought out and extremely interesting. We were very hands on after the first day and were kept busy and interested. The food itself was superb and I have no hesitation in encouraging anyone who has a love for cooking and food and experiencing France away from the “tourists”, and making new friends to book in for this course. Dare I say I would go back and do the Extended Course that they offer when I can afford to do so. This was a real treat and a real highlight of my 9 weeks of traveling through America and Europe. I must add that with that amount of time away my husband and I have eaten out in over 70 different cafes and restaurants- along the way -and only a small handful of kitchens have equaled the quality of the food and its’ brilliant presentation. We were at several Michelin Restaurants in France, and fine dining particularly in Scotland and Phoenix, Arizona as well as many places recommended through friends and truly The Walnut Grove Cooking school sits up there with all of these places. Probably said more than you expected but nonetheless I thank you.
Amanda L, Australia
The Walnut Grove School was fabulous. Maynard & Benedict were excellent, patient, teachers. Their recipes were great and they were very organized in their presentations, etc. There was plenty of hands on participation. Everything was very clean, neat and well presented. There were only six of us in the class, which was great. We were treated exceptionally well. Our accommodations were fabulous. I am a very picky person and I can’t find anything bad to say about the trip. Bravo !!!! The International Kitchen Chicago staff was great. We had quite a few questions and you were always helpful and quick to respond to our needs. I have already referred many of my friends to your website. Keep up the great work !!!!!
Robert W., RI
This was an excellent course – casual, yet very informative. The key features were excellent instructors, plenty of hands on work as well as demonstrations, fabulous meals, a very quiet and relaxing rural environment, very good facilities and a well thought out program. Above all, I was looking for relaxation, and I got that in spades. The duration was very well calibrated for my purposes. I learned a lot in a short period of time, and had a lot of fun doing it.
One of the reasons I chose this particular course was the excellent and detailed course description provided on [The International Kitchen] website, a description which proved in the actual event to be very accurate.
I was quite impressed with the prompt response time and courteous accommodation I received from your staff. It was a blast. Keep up the good work.
Earle M., Canada
We came to France to learn to cook
Five short days that’s all it took
Maynard and Benedict will definitely be glad
Five days like this could drive a chef mad!
Amongst it all we’ve put on weight
We must go home to compensate
Maynard and Benedict have certainly exceeded any expectations I may have had before coming to the course. Bravo! I will certainly encourage our friends & family to follow suit. Boys, remember me when you are rich and famous.
“One of the best courses I’ve done, cleverly structured so that your confidence really increases as the week progresses. It’s great fun too.”
Jenni Muir, author of ‘A Place to Cook’ and ‘Cooking School Holidays’ [We are particularly proud of this quote, as this was about the 30th cookery course that Jenni has been on – she was in the process of writing the book “A Place to Cook” and therefore had to attend a lot of cookery courses!! She was also, at the time, the chairperson of the British Guild of Food & Travel Writers”.]
I chose Walnut Grove because the program promised more learn-by-doing cooking than other other cooking schools, whose approach seemed to be learn-by-watching. The course lived up to its promise, with plenty of personal coaching by Maynard and Benedict.
C D, MI