"What a wonderful five days we've had spending time with you at this wonderful place. In the kitchen the two chefs make an awesome team. They seem to really enjoy doing what they do which makes it so motivating to be a guest here. The classes are very structured and they do such a great job of keeping us on task - then there is the amazing food & wine, and the lovely accommodation. I'm going away with such enthusiasm to practice my newly learned skills and work with the wonderful recipes. My home kitchen will never be the same! Thank you all, come visit.
St George, ME, USA
Everyone here at Walnut Grove has 3 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.
How it all started
We’re old friends at the Walnut Grove, but having cooked for twenty years in high-class establishments, we wanted to do something new. We wanted to teach people how to cook fine food in a fun and relaxed atmosphere. Our 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’s how we found ourselves 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.
Our 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, our large kitchen is light and airy and is ideal for learning to cook. And we 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 we?
I’m a New Zealander so don’t be surprised by the accent. I’m married to Maynard and I’m here to make sure your holiday runs smoothly which means I’m here when you want me and not, when you don’t. You’ll deal with me when you book and if you have any questions just ask. I’ve been married to Maynard since 1995 and involved with gourmet cuisine for as long. It’s a pleasure to welcome new faces and share the delights of Walnut Grove and I look forward to showing you round.
Over the years, I’ve seen all kinds of chefs and teaching approaches and I believe that learning to cook should be a pleasure. I’ve got an eye for detail but while I’ll always be passionate about gourmet cooking, you won’t find me taking myself too seriously. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen so it’s got to be friendly and fun.
I’ve 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 I was the chef/patron of the award winning restaurant Seland Newydd daringly named after Freya (it means New Zealand in Welsh). I’ve also been the winner of several gold medals in national competitions.
Anthony Vancilli - guest Pâtissier
I’ve worked with patisserie all my life, starting my career in my father’s boulangerie. I have a CAP (certificat apptidude pro) Boulanger plus CAP Patisserie (which covers chocolaterie, confiseur, glacier) and I’ve worked in Paris as well as in America in the 5 star Ritz Carlton as chef boulanger, breakfast chef and viennoisserie. On my return to France I worked in Versailles and qualified as a Maître Pâtissier in 2005. I’ve also worked all over France in order to gain a deeper insight and understanding of different regions’ specialities. In 2014 I opened my own patisserie in Cossé le Vivien (just 10 minutes from the Walnut Grove) called Pain et DesLys and my patisseries are exported around the world. I’m delighted to be able to join forces with Maynard and share the delights, secrets and skills behind making fine patisserie with their guests.
Together we hope our passion and enthusiasm for cooking will inspire you. And your gourmet cookery holiday will leave you relaxed but enthused. We want you to arrive as a guest but leave as old friends, as so many of our visitors have already.