cooking holiday or cooking vacation
. . . take a culinary or cooking tour to delight the senses
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   Cooking Holiday in France  
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. . . in the beautiful Loire Valley

Everyone here at Walnut Grove has three things in common. A passion for gourmet food and an eye for the detail. A romance with France and that feeling of luxury that comes with the best. And a love of people and making them welcome. And yes that’s more than three things, but they are the inspiration behind the Walnut Grove cookery holidays.

So what else makes the Walnut Grove Cooking Vacation unique?

Your hosts and tutors are acclaimed chefs Maynard Harvey and Emerson Farrar, 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 ambience, 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.

Apple Panacotta

"Traveling alone but felt very welcome and part of the family"
After looking online for cooking schools all over the world, I kept coming back to their well developed site. After 2 years of wishing, I decided to jump in and and reserve a spot . . . read more


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.

Coffee time

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.

Ravioli Scallops

"A wonderful cooking and holiday experience."
Four of us had the pleasure of staying at Walnut Grove in June. My friend and I took part in the classes while our husbands toured the interesting and beautiful local countryside returning to savour the delicious food we had helped to prepare . . . read more

Foie Gras Mousse


How it all started

The team are old friends at the Walnut Grove, but having cooked for twenty years in high-class establishments, they wanted to do something new. They wanted to teach people how to cook fine food in a fun and relaxed atmosphere. Their cookery holidays are all about bringing the best out of you, regardless of your ability and about inspiring you and your cooking with new ideas and techniques.

And that is how thye found themselves in a beautifully renovated farmhouse, in idyllic France, with a vision. A vision to combine luxurious holidays in a beautiful setting, great company and fine dining with a chance to learn with the best when it comes to gourmet cuisine.

The professionally equipped kitchen is just across the courtyard from the farmhouse and has been specifically designed for your cookery holiday. With a high ceiling and exposed beams, the large kitchen is light and airy and is ideal for learning to cook. And the team all share a healthy sense of humour so you can be sure of plenty of laughter! This is where friendships are formed.

So who are the Walnut Grove team?

The Governor Freya
Freya Harvey

Freya is a New Zealander so do not be surprised by the accent. She is married to Maynard and is there to make sure your holiday runs smoothly which means she is there when you want her and not, when you do not.

You will deal with Freya when you book and if you have any questions just ask. She has been married to Maynard since 1995 and involved with gourmet cuisine for as long. It is a pleasure to welcome new faces and share the delights of Walnut Grove and Freya looks forward to showing you around.

Your gourmet chefs

Your tutors are acclaimed English chefs Maynard Harvey and Emerson Farrar. Talented, professional chefs with a deep understanding of food and decades of experience at top restaurants, they share a passion for fresh ingredients, distinct flavours and clean, meticulous presentation.

Chef Maynard
Maynard Harvey

Over the years, Maynard has seen all kinds of chefs and teaching approaches and he believes that learning to cook should be a pleasure. He has got an eye for detail but while he will always be passionate about gourmet cooking, you will not find him taking himself too seriously. He spends a lot of time in the kitchen so it has got to be friendly and fun.

He has worked alongside 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 he was the chef/patron of the award winning restaurant Seland Newydd daringly named after Freya (it means New Zealand in Welsh). He has also been the winner of several gold medals in national competitions.

  Chef Emerson
  Emerson Farrar
  After qualifying, he worked in a high end country house hotel in South Wales for a couple of years, and then at Peterstone Court, which is where he met Maynard, before eventually running his own kitchens. For Emerson the beauty of working in small country house hotels has always been the ability to be able to source fantastic local ingredients (sometimes directly from the farmers) or sometimes foraged themselves and then being able to turn them into amazing dishes with a highly motivated team. He has taken up the challenge of moving to France to put his skills and enthusiasm into practice working with his old friends, Maynard and Freya. Detail is what he is about and as well as sharing his expertise he also believes that cooking should be some thing that is fun, so expect plenty of laughter with him.



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.

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