COOKING SCHOOLS - learn to cook . . . train to be a chef
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. . . in the beautiful Loire Valley

Experience the reality of gourmet cooking yourself. There is only one way to learn and that is to do it! Top chefs, luxury accommodation, set in France - the home of gourmet cuisine. What more could you ask for?

  • Learn in a supportive, relaxed and fun atmosphere
  • Extensive hands-on time in the kitchen
  • Learn professional style presentation skills
  • Whatever your skill level enhance your existing abilities
  • Individual attention guaranteed.
  • Maximum ratio of four guests to one chef
  • Absolutely no washing up!
  • All classes are in English
  • Contact us now for a holiday experience that will last you a lifetime

So what else makes the Walnut Grove Cooking Vacation unique?

Your hosts and tutors are acclaimed chefs Maynard Harvey and Benedict Haines, two modern chefs who use the freshest ingredients with an emphasis on distinct flavours and clean, meticulous presentation. Their passion and enthusiasm for cooking will stimulate your own love of food, and their expertise will help you gain confidence and perfect your cooking skills and techniques in the kitchen.

At the Walnut Grove, we always maintain a maximum of four people to one chef, so you always get personal attention. Our professionally equipped kitchen is located across the courtyard from the farmhouse and has been exclusively designed for our culinary vacations. With a high ceiling and exposed beams our large kitchen is light and airy and retains a soft country ambiance, ideal for learning to cook.

You will work with a full range of professional equipment and experiment under the watchful eyes of your chefs. Our cookery course experience ranges from home-smoking that you can do in your own oven, stocks and sauces, caramel sugar cages and even the fun of making your own candy floss, or as its called in France "Barbe à Papa" (Papa's Beard)!

Cook, tour and learn during the days, and each evening, sit down to gastronomic delights, fine wines and interesting conversation with like-minded people in our open plan mezzanine gallery.

Your accommodation in the sympathetically renovated farmhouse is set in a walnut grove in the heart of idyllic rural France. The house is surrounded by its own gardens, where in clement weather you can play boules or croquet, or simply relax in the sun. The four luxuriously appointed en-suite bedrooms are situated on the first and ground floors and have stunning views stretching over the countryside.


Gourmet Cuisine and Cooking Classes in the Loire Valley

Enjoying cooking is all about confidence, being relaxed and understanding your ingredients. Skilfully combining flavours, textures and presentation is within all of us, our aim at the Walnut Grove is to bring these qualities out, so that you have the ability to follow your own flair and imagination.

Each day, you will experiment with new flavours and new techniques using the freshest ingredients with expert guidance. Because our courses are run with a professional yet relaxed holiday atmosphere, we believe that this is the ideal way of combining a holiday with culinary development.

You will arrive on Saturday, mid afternoon. After some time settling in to your room, the course begins with an introductory talk to discuss the structure and goals of the program. Later in the evening, after complimentary champagne, you'll enjoy a six course gourmet dinner that illustrates the cooking style you will be studying during your cookery course, with explanations by your chef hosts. It is also a wonderful opportunity to relax and get to know your fellow guests.

Each day after breakfast, there will be both demonstration's and hands-on classes, ranging from basic knife skills to homemade Italian bread's and even caramelised sugar baskets. This is followed by preparation of the evening meal, with gourmet dishes such as Apple and goats cheese croustade with a roquette and walnut salad or Collops of monkfish glazed with a herb, mustard and brioche crust, served with saffron tagliatelli and a white wine, mussel and dill sauce.

After a light lunch, you will get to enjoy some of the local culture with visits to a Nineteenth century windmill producing buckwheat flour in the traditional method, and a local fromagérie, with demonstration of cheese making.

Then back to Walnut Grove for more hands-on fun in the kitchen, as you put the finishing touches on dinner. It is then time to sit down and revel in the stunning food you have learned to prepare.

On the last day, you will be challenged to use all the skills and knowledge acquired during the week as you work in teams to prepare and present the last meal with only a little guidance from the chefs. To relieve the pressure, a gourmet barbecue is served in the afternoon, followed by a game of croquet or boules in the garden. Then back to the kitchen for final preparations before sitting down to your gastronomic feast.



17.00 Introductory talk - Discussing aims and course structure 
17.30 Complimentary champagne
18.15 Dinner - 6-course gourmet dinner

Dinner 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 bavarois with orange crisps and a passion-fruit sauce
  • Selection of cheese and biscuits
  • Coffee and truffles


09.00 Breakfast (to include fresh croissants, breads and preserves, cereals, orange juice, yoghurts, tea and coffee).
10.00 Kitchen. Welcome, explore kitchen / equipment, etc . . .
  Hands-on: Basic knife skills; care of knives, safety, sharpening, chop and slice onion, brunoise of carrot, julien of leek, vierge dressing.
11.00 Demonstration: Leek and potato soup, cheese croutons.
11.15 Seasoning techniques: How to bring the best out of your ingredients.
11.45 Hands-on: Bread making; plain, sun-dried tomato and parmesan, basil and olive oil, onion and cumin.
12.30 Hands-on: Chicken butchery.
13.30 Lunch. Leek and potato soup, cheese, pickles, salad, home-made bread and olives.
14.30 Demonstration: Chicken stock, (white & brown), veal glace, red wine and shallot sauce.
14.45 Demonstration: Prep salmon, Gravadlax of salmon
  Hands-on: Filleting trout (one each) and prep mussels. Fish stock.
15.50 Demonstration: Seafood Chowder, fish stock, home-smoked trout and crab bisque sauce
16.30 Finish
18.00 Aperitifs followed by dinner

Dinner menu

  • Seafood Chowder
  • Roasted quail served with wild mushroom purée and a puy lentil dressing
  • Sorbet
  • Seared fillet of salmon served with sautéed king prawns and a crab bisque vinaigrette
  • Iced coconut parfait
  • Cheese and biscuits
  • Coffee and truffles


09.00 Breakfast
10.00 Demonstration: Pasta dough, followed by making chicken & foie gras mousse, and rich sweet pastry
10.45 Hands-on: Tortellini, ravioli filled with chicken & foie gras mousse, and tagliatelle
11.45 Menu explanation
11.55 Hands-on: Menu Prep
  Group 1: Chicken dish, Caesar salad.
  Group 2: Sorbet plates, lemon tart, iced lime parfait, honey wafer baskets, lemon zest.
13.30 Lunch: Tagliatelli with a bacon, tomato and onion sauce, fresh bread and salad, followed by cheese and biscuits.
14.30 Excursion (can vary according to availability): Either Nineteenth century windmill, producing buckwheat flour in the traditional method or Local cider farm with tasting.
17.30 Back into the kitchen for aperitifs and to finish dinner prep, followed by dinner.

Dinner menu

  • Chicken and foie gras tortellini with a truffle foam
  • Caesar salad
  • Sorbet
  • Indian spiced chicken with a Masala Sauce
  • Glazed lemon tart with iced lime parfait served in a honey wafer basket
  • Selection of cheese and biscuits
  • Coffee and truffles


09.00 Breakfast
10.00 Demonstration and hands-on: Ice-creams (caramelised banana, cinnamon) sugar work, chocolate piping, honey wafer baskets and tuille work.
11.30 Tea and home-made biscuits.
11.45 Menu explanation.
11.55 Hands-on: Menu prep
  Group 2: Chicken liver parfait, sweet & sour sauce, monk-fish dish, deep-fried veg.
  Group 1: Smoked salmon, guacamole, chilli dressing, bread & butter pudding, tuile work, orange zest, sugar work, cinnamon ice cream, gin & tonic sorbet.
13.30 Lunch: Cold meats, salads, homemade bread & pickles followed by ice- creams.
14.30 Excursion: Local fromagerie, with demonstration of cheese making.
17.30 Back into the kitchen for aperitifs and to finish dinner prep, followed by dinner.

Dinner menu

  • Duo of smoked salmon and guacamole with a chilli and lime dressing
  • Chicken liver parfait served with a sweet & sour sauce
  • Sorbet
  • Spiced monkfish served with crushed new potatoes, spinach and a mussel cream sauce
  • Rum & honey bread & butter pudding with cinnamon ice cream
  • Cheese and biscuits
  • Coffee and petit fours


09.00 Breakfast
10.00 Menu explanation
10.10 Hands-on:
  Group 1: Spring roll starter, main course.
  Group 2: Gravlax dish, pudding, sorbet and petit fours.
13.30 Lunch: Gourmet Barbeque
14.30 Leisure time, croquet, boules and generally relaxing.
17.30 Hands-on: Finish kitchen prep, followed by aperitifs and dinner.

Dinner menu

  • Gravlax of salmon with a prawn and cucumber dressing
  • Crispy duck and vegetable spring rolls with a sweet chilli sauce
  • Sorbet
  • Fillet 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



With our advanced course itinerary, even if you have been on our first course or other cookery courses, this cooking holiday will take you to the next level.

From keen cooks to semi-professionals we have designed this culinary program to make cooking dinner parties and other special events easy and enjoyable. Based around a working restaurant kitchen, our new cooking course will teach you everything from pre-preparation techniques to last minute cooking timings to ensure that you have the skills and confidence to create new dishes and menus on your own.


Why the Walnut Grove Advanced Cookery Course?

Each day you will be be using fresh quality ingredients and transforming them, from scratch, into gastronomic delights, furthering your techniques and understanding at the same time. With all the help you need from the chefs, you will be taught to:

  • Write mis-en-place lists (things to do)
  • Constantly be aware of every aspect of the meal
  • Pre-preparation timings
  • Tasting and approving every dish for seasoning
  • Organizing the last minute cooking of each course
  • Plating up/presentation

After learning these new skills, dinner parties in your own kitchen will be a breeze!

Every day we will have comprehensive menu discussions which will teach you how to create your own dishes, taking into account an understanding of balancing flavors, textures, portion sizes and richness. By the end of the course not only will you be able to create your own new dishes, but write your own menus which you will be able to competently cook at home.

Also included in this culinary vacation, is an afternoon spent with a professional sommelier who will teach you how to choose the best wine for your new gourmet dishes.

All the tuition, fun and experience is put into an exciting last day finale, with our surprise:

The Walnut Grove Challenge!

This is only revealed the morning of the last day - are you brave enough?



Your hosts and tutors for the course are Maynard Harvey and Benedict Haines
They are both talented, professional chefs with a deep understanding of food

Maynard's experience includes working along side Chef de Cuisine Richard Brooks (who was the late Princess Diana's personal chef); at the prestigious Savoy Hotel, London, Hanbury Manor and The Royal Bath Hotel. Most recently Maynard was the chef/patron of the award winning restaurant Seland Newydd. He has also been the winner of several gold medals in national competitions.

Benedict Haines also has a distinguished career in gourmet cuisine, including working at the exclusive Wentworth Golf Club under Michelin Star awarded Ian McAndrews and he was head chef of the highly acclaimed country house hotel Tyddyn Llan set in Snowdonia National Park. Both Maynard and Benedict are experienced and enthusiastic teachers as well as great chefs. They aim to inspire your imagination through practical, simple and fun tuition that will increase your confidence and transform your culinary skills.

"Just wanted to let you know that I had a fabulous time at your school. Maynard and Benedict were great fun to spend time with as well as being excellent chefs and teachers. I will be recommending the school to anyone who appreciates fine cooking and presentation and wants a total hands-on approach." ~ Tania Kane United Kingdom

Maynard Harvey Bendict Haines

"It was amazing how many lessons Maynard and Benedict packed in just a few days, and their passionand sense of humor made it a very relaxing experience as well." ~ Parames and Chantima Traigisyavej Switzerland


The Walnut Grove
Le Hunaudiere
Livre la Touche
+33 (0) 2 43 98 50 02
If you have any questions about cooking schools or courses send us an email <click here>
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