Travel Agent Educational With Le Calabash Cooking School: France Culinary Vacation
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A Chateau Culinary Adventure in the Loire Valley - Travel Agent Educational
Yzeures-sur-Creuse (Indre et Loire)

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About the location: Le Calabash Cooking School is located on the river Creuse in the heart of the Indre et Loire region, set in a small French hamlet on the edge of the local forest. The region is home to the finest goat’s cheese producers, and winemaking has been deeply rooted here for centuries. This area is simply known as France’s ‘Bread Basket.' This particular culinary vacation has become a popular one among our clients. As a travel agent, discover the vacation that has our clients raving.

This 5-night itinerary at a special price is exclusive to travel agents and their companions. Experience for yourself how Le Calabash's French culinary vacation will open new doors to flavors, techniques and skills that will enable you to follow your own cooking flair and imagination. Initial concerns about the level of cooking skills required are immediately dispelled by the informality of the environment, and the realization that the only qualifications needed are a love for food and the desire to learn about cooking. The kitchen where your French cooking classes are held is a traditional French farmhouse kitchen, fitted to allow you to feel at home. You will work with equipment and ingredients that can normally be found in the home kitchen. The cooking courses provide a hands-on opportunity to develop your culinary skills in a practical and supportive learning environment, as well as being on vacation in the most beautiful surroundings, and the chance to make new friends.

About the accommodations: Your home for the week is a lovely former manor home, now a stunning relais hotel. The property has been lovingly restored with gorgeous taste and attention to every detail, keeping in mind modern conveniences, such as air-conditioning, while not compromising the character of the building.  There is also a lovely dining room and a wonderful lounge with a large fireplace, a perfect location for an aperitif in the cooler evenings. The hotel has complimentary Wi-Fi throughout, and there are hairdryers on request. The hotel is also located right near the river (where all the locals swim).  This is a lovely scenic village, very pastoral and charming, a perfect location for a wonderful food and wine experience. 

About the lessons: The cooking classes are limited to a maximum of 8 participants, which allow Alison and Sidney to give personal attention to all their guests. Alison and Sidney are award-winning chefs with many years of international experience. After meeting at The Royal Swazi Sun Resort and Spa in Swaziland, they married and have enjoyed a colorful culinary career. They have cooked for several heads of state and celebrities (including Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and The Duke of Edinburgh, Prince William, Richard Attenbourgh, Mick Jager, Madonna, Cher, Sylvester Stallone, U2, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton), and have won recognition by major food guides and medals at the international level. The philosophy of this husband and wife team is ‘Balade Gormande sans Frontière’–Cooking without boundaries–or as Sidney would like to say, ‘Let’s take a walk on the wild side’: and he would, as he was born and raised on the plains of Zululand! They take traditional French cooking and introduce exotic flavors and traditions from around the world to create an exciting ‘cooking adventure.’

You will leave Le Calabash Cooking School with a new-found enthusiasm and confidence, impatient to return to your own kitchen to use your new skills and to share this once-in-a-lifetime experience with your clients.

A Chateau Culinary Adventure in the Loire Valley - Travel Agent Educational Itinerary

Day 1 - Monday

  • Arrive any time after 12 noon and settle into your room.
  • Around 6:00 pm meet your hosts to enjoy a welcome glass of champagne.
  • Dinner with your hosts to follow.

Day 2 - Tuesday

  • Traditional French breakfast.
  • Morning: Your first cooking lesson, which will focus on fish and shellfish. You will be taught the best catch for each season, as well as how to identify your fish and ensure it is fresh. This hands-on class will also teach you the art of cured salmon preparation — including Gravlax, Beetroot Cured Salmon — and then the method of smoking salmon.
  • Lunch to follow based on your efforts.
  • Sample menu:
    • Tempura battered cod with a hint of chili and coriander
    • Katchumber salad, chipped potato, and sweet chili relish
    • An exotic dessert created by Chef Alison
    • Coffee
  • In the afternoon, enjoy some leisure time before dinner. Take the time to relax with a relaxing massage or spa treatment, or explore the area by bicycle, taking a walk or canoe trip along the river, or playing boules in the village square.
  • Dinner.

Day 3 - Wednesday

  • Traditional French breakfast.
  • For your morning cooking class, learn the art of making a savory souffle as well as how to bake gourmet-style bread rolls.
  • Around 11:30am, depart for Chateau Chenonceau.
  • Lunch at the renowned Orangerie restaurant at Chateau Chenonceau.
  • Following lunch, time to explore Chenonceau on your own. The Chenonceau Castle was once a royal residence and is now an exceptional site not only because of its original design but also because of its rich collections, which were loved and protected by women throughout history, including Catherine de Medici and Madame Dupin.
  • Around 6:00pm, arrive at Fabrice and Laurent Maillet in Vouvray, Alison and Sidney’s favorite wine producer, for a wine tasting and cellar tour. The fifth generation Maillet brothers recently renovated the winery and employed canopy management techniques while still respecting the soil.
  • Dinner at a street cafe in Tours, which is known as little Paris.

Day 4 - Thursday

  • Traditional French breakfast.
  • Depart for the market in Loches, where you will buy ingredients for class. Loches is a town dominated by a medieval citadel, which is surrounded by 1.5 miles of old walls.
  • Enjoy a true French-style worker’s lunch in a small village.
  • In the afternoon, take a walk on the wild side; Chef Sidney will lead a hands-on class about preparing dishes for an African BBQ. In the class, learn Sidney’s African childhood recipes, such as tiger prawn and chicken peri peri, Cape Malay lamb sosaties, chakalaka sauce, and putu pap.
  • Free time until dinner.
  • For dinner, enjoy Sidney’s Zulu BBQ.

Day 5 - Friday

  • Traditional French breakfast
  • This morning’s cooking class is all about pastry and desserts. Chef Alison will share her passion for creating and preparing great sweets and pastries, such as Sable pastry, creme brulee, tarte tatin, chocolate souffle, salted caramel ice cream, macaroons, and tuilles.
  • Light French lunch.
  • In the afternoon, visit a regional food producer.
  • Time on your own before dinner.
  • For dinner, weather permitting, a picnic next to the river in Angles sur Anglin, one of the most beautiful villages in France. With its paved streets and winding alleys, Angles sur Anglin was an important place in history, as it was dominated by bishops, bitterly disputed by the English people and the French torn between the Huguenots and the Catholics, and a place where revolutionary ideas flourished in the 19th century.

Day 6 - Saturday

  • Traditional French breakfast
  • Departure by mid-day.