Lorenza de' Medici, who stars in the PBS series "La Villa Table," teaches eight to 10 weeklong classes May to October at her family's spectacular Chianti wine estate, the 11th century Badia a Coltibuono ("abbey of good harvest") halfway between Florence and Siena. Each day combines a three- to four-hour hands-on cooking class with Lorenza de' Medici in the Renaissance villa's kitchen, followed by lunch. Afternoons, longtime Chianti resident and food scholar John Meis takes the small group on excursions in the Chianti countryside, visiting cheese producers, sausage makers, country churches and hilltop towns. Dinner is usually at a different private villa or castle each night; the week concludes with a gala dinner at the abbey. In off hours, there is a lot to explore since this vast estate produces not only wine, but also olive oil, their own balsamic vinegars and honeys. Students stay upstairs in the villa's guest rooms along a grand 15th century corridor where monks once slept.
For the Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday January 14, 1996 Home Edition Travel Part L Page 4 Travel Desk 2 inches; 44 words Type of Material: Correction
Cooking schools--Due to an editing error, two photos were uncredited or misidentified in "Booked to Cook" (Jan. 7, 1996). A photograph of La Louviere in Bordeaux was taken by Fred Seidman. An inside photograph of a woman making bread was taken by Owen Morse, and was of a cooking demonstration in Morocco, not Mexico.
New this year: a separate wine program led by Master of Wine Nicolas Belfrage. There is one cooking class, but most of the three-hour daily classes are devoted to wine, with wine-oriented excursions in the afternoon.
Contact: The Villa Table, Badia a Coltibuono, 53013 Gaiole in Chianti (SI), Italy; tel. 011-39-577-749-498, fax 011-39-577-749-235. In U.S.: Judy Ebrey, Cuisine International, P.O. Box 25228, Dallas, TX 75225; tel. (214) 373-1161, fax (214) 373-1162. Cost: $3,900 per person, double occupancy, all inclusive other than air fare; $600 single supplement.
Giuliano Bugialli's Cooking in Florence
Ebulliant cooking teacher Giuliano Bugialli will resume teaching after a year's sabbatical with his annual special Christmas-week class, Dec. 20-27. Known for his action-packed classes, this time he gives students an afternoon off for shopping. But in the days before Christmas he and 15 to 18 students work to prepare all the dishes for a traditional Christmas dinner. On Christmas Eve they go to midnight Mass in a lovely church in the countryside and then dinner at a nearby restaurant, returning to Florence in the wee hours. And like everyone in Tuscany, on the day after Christmas the class goes for a promenade along the sea.
Contact: Giuliano Bugialli's Cooking in Florence, P.O. Box 1650, Canal St. Station, New York, NY 10013; tel. (212) 966-5325, fax (212) 226-0601. Cost: $3,400 including hotel, meals and wines; single supplement $500; $2,600 for tasters.
Le Petit Blanc Ecole de Cuisine
Raymond Blanc's renowned Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons, a two-star Michelin restaurant in the Cotswold countryside outside Oxford, is also a cooking school from October to mid-April. The 15th century stone manor house is a remarkable 10-room luxury hotel--with a staff of 100. Le Manoir's Ecole de Cuisine, founded in 1991, offers students an opportunity to hone their cooking skills by learning some of Raymond Blanc's contemporary French cooking in five-day courses offered at three levels. Limited to eight students, classes are taught by head chef Clive Fretwell. Dinner is in the restaurant each night. Partners of participants are welcome to stay throughout the course free of charge, although their meals and drinks are charged separately.
Contact: Le Petit Blanc, Ecole de Cuisine, Church Road., Great Milton, Oxford, OX44 7PD England; tel. 011-44-1-844-278-881; fax 011-44-1-844-278-847. In the U.S., contact Judy Ebrey, P.O. Box 25228, Dallas, TX 75225; tel. (214) 373-1161, fax (214) 373-1162. Cost: about $1,900, includes 5 nights' accommodations, classes and most meals (including an eight-course Menu Gourmand with wines, service and VAT).
Ballymaloe Cookery School
Myrtle Allen of Ballymaloe is often called the Alice Waters of Ireland. In the late '60s she turned the family farm in County Cork into a showcase country restaurant and inn. Today, she's the president of the European Union of Chefs and works to preserve quality small food producers in Europe. Ballymaloe's kitchen is now run by Myrtle Allen's protege, Rory O'Connell, and Myrtle's son Tim and daughter-in-law Darina run the Ballymaloe Cookery School on their farm two miles away. In September and January, students arrive for the 12-week certificate courses aimed more toward those who want to make a living cooking. Between Easter and July, the school offers a series of one-, 2 1/2- and five-day classes in subjects ranging from "irresistible breakfasts" and bread making, to cooking with fresh herbs and edible flowers, or a mushroom hunt. Classes, which are mostly hands-on and, at 44 students, larger than most, are taught by Darina and Tim Allen. Students stay for a modest rate in converted cottages around a courtyard.
Contact: Tim Allen, The Ballymaloe Cookery School, Shanagarry, Midleton, County Cork, Ireland; tel. 011-353-21-646-785, fax 011-353-21-646-909. One-day classes are about $119-164; 2 1/2-day classes $389 to $458. Double rooms for short courses are about $20 per night; $25 per single.