We all love a bit of Italian food, but have you ever tasted the real deal? Only a trip to the boot-shaped country can authentically tickle your taste-buds, because its dishes are cooked differently on location than they are in the restaurants at home. Tuscany especially is known for its fine wine and tasty treats, but visiting the region’s restaurants isn’t the only way to sample them.
Sean Caulfield has been renting out Tuscany Villas since 1998 and recommends visiting a cookery school to not only taste the region’s food, but also to learn how to cook it, so you can re-create some of the real Tuscany back home.
“Cookery schools can give you a great overall impression of the approach to food in the Tuscan culture and you can get some practical hands on experience too. You can unlock your hidden talents, brush up on your advanced skills or simply enjoy a day in the kitchen!
“For families and groups I love the idea of the school being held right in the rental villa as you may get people in your party involved you didn’t expect.”
Read on for his insider information on five of the best cookery schools the region has to offer, each with a different flavour…
The restaurant experience with Ristorante Malborghetto – Lecchi
This typically Tuscan restaurant holds cookery classes in its professional kitchens, taught by the resident chef so you can feel like a proper cook for the day! They only take a maximum of six people per class, which allows for a personalised and in-depth learning experience. The class menu consists of an appetiser, a home-made pasta dish, a main course and a dessert; using seasonal ingredients or tailored to client requests. The experience starts with a three-hour cookery class in the morning, after which students are invited to eat their own creations, with accompanying wine and a participation certificate included in the price.
Price: 90 Euros pp
Tel: +44 057 774 6201
Plenty of choice at The International Kitchen – Several Tuscany locations
The International Kitchen offers cookery classes in several Tuscan locations, with different classes and chefs to choose from. From pizza classes to wine-tasting sessions, there’s something for everyone with combined market visits available as well. Most classes are for a minimum of two people and usually a maximum of eight, with morning and afternoon sessions often available.
Price: Varies, 165 – 285 Euros pp
Tel: +39 800 945 8606
Enter a cook’s home with Cook like an Italian – Montalcino
Teresa Galli’s cookery classes are held from her intimate, home-based cookery school in one of the most picturesque, hill-top villages in Tuscany, home to the famous Brunello di Montalcino wine. Classes run from one to five days, with cooking demos available for groups of 10 people or more. After taking you through some food history, she’ll teach the basics of Italian cooking and work her way up from simple sauces to risotto and even home-made pasta dishes with custom-made fillings for ravioli and cannelloni. Her website has a recipe of the month so you can sample one of her creations before you go!
Price: 70 Euros pp for basic dishes and 80 Euros pp for fish or meat dishes
Tel: +39 349 425 6121
Cook in your own Tuscany villa with Chef Matisse – Location of your choice
Rather than having to travel for your cookery classes, multilingual Chef Matisse will teach you from your own holiday villa, bringing all the necessary ingredients and wines with him. The classes available include a four hour basic course with five courses, a six hour advanced course, or individual classes; with the option to add a shopping trip with Matisse to your experience. Group classes should have a minimum of four people, and take a maximum of 12.
Price: Varies depending on travel and menus
Tel: +39 339 267 8469
A family experience at Toscana Mia – Poggio San Polo
These cookery classes are run by two sisters, Simonetta and Paola, from their dad’s ‘Papa Luigi’ home in Poggio San Polo in the heart of the Chianti Classico hillside. Having both learned to cook from their ‘mamma’; they now run half day to five day cookery courses to pass on their knowledge to hungry travellers, all assisted by a Tuscan chef. Courses are combinable with other experiences such as wine tasting or market visits and family programmes for kids are available as well.
Price: Varies depending on chosen course
Tel: + 39 334 247 6098