"In France, cooking is a serious art form and a national sport" - Julia Child, in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, 1961
For the French, the appreciation of good food and wine is almost as important as breathing. So it is perhaps no surprise that our award-winning French chefs are just as enthusiastic as we are about the French House Party Gastro Academy – the first culinary vacation school of its kind and calibre in the Languedoc region of South West France.
Here is a unique opportunity to learn from master-chefs whose culinary expertise will guide you through practical creativity in the kitchen. When not instructing with the French House Party’s hands-on classes, our chefs run their own renowned gourmet restaurants in Carcassonne and its surrounding area, which are recommended in the most prominent restaurant guides.
Their exhilarating success as long-experienced Chefs de Cuisine gives them something of a celebrity status in South-West France – Michelin stars, television appearances and countless newspaper articles have ensured that their names and their signature dishes are synonymous with cooking innovation and flair.
We combine our residential culinary classes using organic and seasonal local produce with instruction and sampling of the phenomenal local wines, from the luscious reds of the Minervois and Corbieres to the fine sparkling white wines of Limoux, where the ‘Champagne’ method was first created many centuries ago.
Whether you select one of our 3-day weekend courses or a more extended break, you will enjoy a memorable visit to one of France’s 13th Century markets to select fresh ingredients for the dishes for later preparation. We also include a chauffeured outing to the medieval City of Carcassonne.
On our longer breaks there will be rural visits to a cheese-making farm or to enjoy olive oil sampling, as well as wine-tasting at a vineyard and dinner at one or two of the excellent nearby restaurants.
We offer four residential options:
Gourmet Explorer – our flagship 6-day break provides 5 days of instruction with the emphasis on traditional cuisine and organic ingredients, polishing your skills in the creation of delicious French dishes which you will then be confident of reproducing "chez vous". Wine and food matching, at-home wine instruction, a vineyard visit and other regional outings enhance the experience.
Gourmet Explorer Advanced - introduced in 2012 for cooks who already have a confident level of culinary skills and wish to improve even more by learning more complex techniques in preparing and presenting classic French dishes - but often with our chefs' own personalised twists! The Advanced course format is similar to the usual Gourmet Explorer, but is a 7-day course (6 nights) and is more intense than our regular Gourmet Explorer in terms of hours spent receiving instruction from the chefs.
Cuisine in Brief – Our chef chooses a separate seasonal theme for each of the Friday to Sunday breaks. That may include pastries and puddings, fish, shellfish or vegetable recipes, duck, foie-gras – and you’ll be amazed at how much you can achieve in a long weekend. This mini-option is perfect for corporate reward or incentive breaks.
Cook au Vin – This unique 7-day break is for group bookings only (minimum 5 people), provides full lodging for the week and 3 days of cookery classes with our French chef. Three days are also spent at our partner wine school under the tutelage of an English Master of Wine, studying for the intermediate-level Wine and Spirit Education Trust certificate (WSET). This option will suit the wine enthusiast or industry professional who wishes to acquire in-depth knowledge and obtain an internationally-recognised wine qualification. Included in the price is daily transport to the wine school and dinner each evening.
"Chef Encounter" and Chef Encounter Plus: During late-autumn, winter and early spring, our chefs also offer regular single half-day courses from £52 per person. Please ask for details. Please note that accommodation and transfers from airports are not included in the "Chef Encounter" options.
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