For the past six years, Diane de Filipi’s “Let’s Go Cook Italian” classes in Tuscany have inspired great cooking, great memories, and now, great ideas.
De Filipi, who lives in the Napa Valley, takes small groups in spring and fall to the romantic 13th-century Villa Campestri near Florence. Last May, one of her guests was Patrick Revoyre, owner of the Chateau de la Barge, also a historic hotel, located in the famed French wine region of Burgundy.
After a week of cooking with the irrepressible and entertaining Villa Campestri chef Jerry Zanieri, Revoyre had a proposal for de Filipi: Bring her cooking tours to France, too, to his chateau.
“We had so much fun with Patrick in our classes,” de Filipi said, “four people wanted to sign up for this tour too, right away, without even seeing his chateau.”
After a visit to the Chateau de la Barge, de Filipi was just as enthusiastic. “It is a beautiful, charming 14th-century chateau, not far from Macon, a delightful and interesting French town in the heart of Burgundy. And the food at the chateau restaurant is fabulous.”
Revoyre suggested modeling the French program on the successful Italian model in which a small group of guests (she takes no more than 10) cook in the morning with the chef of the chateau, then enjoy their creations for lunch.
The inaugural tour of “Let’s Go Cook Le Bonne Cuisine” is scheduled for June 2-6, and guests will learn to cook the classic dishes of French home cooking: Boeuf Bourguignon (beef braised in red wine), Cuisse de Grenouilles (frog legs), Coq au Vin (chicken in red wine), Escargot (snails), along with desserts like Crepes Suzette and Pears Poached in Wine.
After a three-course lunch, guests are free in the afternoon to explore the region on their own, join optional excursions, or to just relax at the chateau, which is set on a 10-acre park.
Tennis and horseback riding are available within walking distance of the chateau, along with golf, cycling and swimming at the chateau pool.
De Filipi is planning optional visits to local wineries and a local cheesemaker, along with visits to the nearby Cluny Abbey and Solutré Rock.
“As we visit these local locations, we will take the road less traveled through the countryside and enjoy the beauty of Romanesque and medieval castles and charming villages,” de Filipi said.
At the conclusion of the cooking classes, the group will spend a day exploring the nearby village of Macon, which has a Saturday morning street market. Other points of interest include the St. Vincent cathedral, originally a temple dedicated to Mercury, which dates back to the 4th century; the museum of poet Lamartine; and the shop of local designer Laurent Crepeau. Nature walks and cruises on the Saone River are also available.
De Filipi will take a group to Villa Campestri in Italy from May 28 to June 2, just before the first French class at Chateau de la Barge, and she will offer a discount for those who wish to sign up for both tours and travel from Florence to the Chateau de la Barge with her.
For those who wish to sign up only for the French adventure, she will arrange travel from Lyon, France to the chateau, which is about 45 miles from Lyon.
Both the Villa Campestri and the Chateau de la Barge are part of the ILA Hotels de Charme, a small group of international lodgings compiled and promoted by retired hotelier Richard Cabouret. Cabouret chooses the hotels according to his exacting standards. For more information about the hotels, visit ILA-Chateau.com.
De Filipi is accepting reservations now for the inaugural “Let’s Go Cook Le Bonne Cuisine” tour. For details, including prices, photos and reservations, contact her at diane@letsgo cookitalian.com or by phone at 707-966-9220.
“Groups are limited to 10 guests so that each is able to enjoy the personal attention of our maestro chef,” de Filipi said. “Due to the limited space in our groups, reservations will be accepted in the order in which requests are received.”