Cooking Vacation in France: Gourmet Cookery School
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Gourmet Cuisine in France
Mayenne, Loire Valley

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About the location: The cooking school is strategically located in the Loire, not far from the borders of Normandy and Brittany and a short drive to the Chateaux country of the Loire Valley. Set in an unspoiled area of the French countryside, you will enjoy all amenities, which the owners have included for the comfort and needs of their guests when they renovated their charming farmhouse. With beautiful views over an expanse of walnut trees, this property ensures a relaxing and comfortable stay.

About the lessons: Your host and teacher for the course is Chef Maynard, who believes the best way to learn is in a casual and fun atmosphere, where you will have the confidence to skillfully combine flavors, textures and presentation, enhanced by your own imagination. Each day will be filled with combining the freshest local ingredients with techniques that will help you develop your understanding of modern cooking.

The lessons are held in a professionally equipped, yet warm and inviting kitchen that has been specifically designed for the cooking classes. Maynard’s experience includes working with numerous famous chefs, as well as at the prestigious Savoy Hotel in London and the Royal Bath House. Chef Maynard and his wife Freya bring sincere passion and enthusiasm to their work: they will both inspire and stimulate your own love of gourmet French cuisine.

Gourmet Cuisine in France Itinerary

Day 1 - Saturday

  • Arrive on your own.
  • Around 5:00 p.m. there will be an introduction to the program and a discussion of the aims and structure of the course.
  • Following the introduction, Champagne is served, followed by a six-course gourmet dinner.
  • Sample menu:
    • Spinach and cream cheese roulade with a gazpachio dressing
    • Caramelised scallops with a cauliflower purée scented with truffle oil
    • Sorbet
    • Pan-fried breast of duck with stir-fried vegetables and an oriental sauce
    • Passion-fruit and orange bavois with orange crisps and a passion-fruit sauce
    • Selection of cheese and biscuits
    • Coffee and truffles
  • Overnight.

Day 2 - Sunday

  • Breakfast in the morning. Every day, you will be presented with croissants and breads, preserves, cereals, juices, yogurt and coffee or tea.
  • Your first day in the kitchen will start with a welcome and an exploration of the kitchen and the equipment. The class will include:
    • Hands-on: Basic knife skills; care of knives, safety, sharpening, chopping and slicing onions, brunoise of carrot, julien of leek.
    • Demonstration: Leek and potato soup, cheese croutons.
    • Hands-on: Seasoning techniques
    • Hands-on: Bread making; plain, sun-dried tomato and parmesan, basil and olive oil, onion and cumin.
    • Hands-on: Chicken butchery.
  • Lunch will follow your cooking class: Leek and potato soup, cheese, pickles, salads, home-made bread, and olives.
  • After lunch, return to the kitchen for:
    • Demonstration: Chicken stock, veal glace, red wine and shallot sauce.
    • Demonstration: Preparation of salmon, Gravadlax of salmon.
    • Hands-on: Filleting trout and prepping mussels.
    • Demonstration: Seafood chowder, fish stock, home-smoked trout, and crab bisque sauce.
  • Aperitifs to follow.
  • Tonight’s dinner menu: Seafood Chowder, roasted quail with wild mushroom puree, sorbet, seared fillet of salmon served with sauteed king prawns and a crab bisque vinaigrette, iced banana parfait, cheese and biscuits, and coffee and truffles.
  • Overnight.

Day 3 - Monday

  • Breakfast followed by your next lesson, which will consist of:
    • Demonstration: Pasta dough, salmon, egg and herb terrine, chicken mousse, and rich sweet pastry.
    • Hands-on: Tortellini, ravioli filled with chicken & foie gras mousse, and tagliatelle.
    • Menu explanation: chicken & foie gras tortellini with a truffle foam, Caesar salad, sorbet, medley of chicken with cranberry & celeriac (sous vide), glazed lemon tart with iced lime parfait served in a honey wafer basket, selection of cheese and biscuits, coffee and truffles.
  • Hands-on menu for group 1: chicken dish, Caesar salad.
  • Hands-on menu for group 2: sorbet plates, lemon tart, iced lime parfait, honey wafer baskets, lemon zest.
  • Today’s lunch menu: Tagliatelli with a bacon, tomato and onion sauce, fresh bread and salad, followed by cheese and biscuits.
  • After lunch, depart for an excursion (can vary according to availability) to an 19th century windmill, producing buckwheat flour in the traditional method, or a local cider farm with tasting.
  • Return to Walnut Grove for aperitifs and to finish dinner prep, followed by dinner.
  • Overnight.

Day 4 - Tuesday

  • Breakfast.
  • Today’s class will consist of:
    • Demonstration and hands-on: ice-creams (caramelised banana and cinnamon), sugar work, chocolate piping, honey wafer baskets plus tuille work.
  • Tea and home-made biscuits.
  • Possible menu: Duo of smoked salmon and guacamole with a chilli 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, Rum and honey bread and butter pudding with cinnamon ice cream, cheese and biscuits, coffee and petit-fours.
  • Hands-on menu prep: smoked salmon, guacamole, chilli dressing, bread and butter pudding, tuile work, orange zest, sugar work, cinnamon ice cream, gin and tonic sorbet OR: chicken liver parfait, sweet and sour sauce, monk-fish dish, deep-fried veg.
  • Lunch to follow your cooking class. Today’s lunch menu: cold meats, salads, homemade bread and pickles followed by ice creams.
  • In the afternoon, a French patissier will lead a class in croissants and macarons.
  • Return to the property for aperitifs and to finish dinner prep, with dinner to follow and overnight.

Day 5 - Wednesday

  • Breakfast followed by your last cooking class, which will consist of:
  • Possible menu: Crispy duck and vegetable spring rolls with a sweet chilli sauce, Gravalax of salmon with a prawn and cucumber dressing, sorbet, filet of beef with a fresh rocquette pesto and confit garlic, coffee and baileys cheesecake with chocolate and earl grey tea ice cream, selection of cheeses, coffee and petit fours.
  • Hands-on prep: spring roll starter, main course, or Gravalax dish, pudding, sorbet and petit-fours.
  • Lunch: Barbeque.
  • After lunch, time at leisure for croquet, boules and general relaxing.
  • Return to the kitchen to finish the final touches of dinner.
  • Aperitifs, followed by dinner.
  • Overnight.

Day 6

  • Breakfast followed by departure before midday.
  • Au revoir!