Driving through Tuscany, Borgo Santo Pietro appears almost like a mirage. The gates open until this tranquil oasis of gardens, fountains, majestic views and stunning vistas. The 13th-century farmhouse serves as the main house but the interiors are modern and classical. Be prepared to eat very well here as they have a Michelin star restaurant, Meo Modo. And do me a favor, swim in their infinity pool with a natural bottom. You won’t regret staying at this charming property.
If you like Italian food and think being a renowned chef could be an exciting career change for you, I’ll tell you how to do it. It’s easy… well sort of.
Step 1: Book yourself a ticket to Italy and then make your way to Tuscany.
Step 2: Enroll at a cooking school at a prestigious boutique hotel, where your instructors are all Michelin starred chefs. (I’d suggest either Borgo Santo Pietro, a flawless luxury boutique hotel with their own vegetable gardens and farm, or Il Falconiere, an inviting, family run high-end boutique nestled on an olive garden.)
Step 3: Put on the apron and roll up your sleeves because you will be getting pasta dough, ricotta and olive oil
Step 4: Follow your teachers examples and create culinary masterpieces, with your own personal spin of course.
Step 5: Wait for Michelin to call you.
Okay, it might not be that easy, but these courses definitely give you a start.
I’ve been to Italy over a dozen times and have lived in Tuscany and Umbria for extended periods. On my recent two week trip to Tuscany this past summer, my favorite memories were when my hair was covered in flour, my arm muscles burning from kneading pasta dough and mouth salivating from the Tuscan aromas wafting from our army of pots and pans in a working kitchen. I love EATING Italian food, who knew that I’d love to actually learn how to make it!
At Il Falconiere, Silvia Baracchi is the owner as well as the head chef, and she conducts the cooking lessons herself, in this homestyle kitchen. She laughs, she chatters, she makes jokes and she makes sure that you get as much out of the class as possible. Don’t think this is a “watch & learn” situation. She gives you your own setup and you need to follow along and try to keep up with her high-speed pace.
We made 4 courses over the course of this 4 hour class—but don’t worry— you get to sample your creations as well as sip some of Silvia’s own family wine, Baracchi, to keep your stamina up. Ultimately, you dine on your creations in their al fresco courtyard as the sun sets. Bellissima.
Over at Borgo Santo Pietro, luxurious doesn’t begin to describe it. This manicured property houses historic farmhouses, an infinity pool, a chicken coop, tennis courts, a lilly pond and so many twists and turns, you can easily find yourself a private oasis. But make sure to make your way over to the Borgo Cooking School. Michelin starred Chef Andrea Mattei helms the kitchen and will give you a full on tutorial in how to make rustic Tuscan cuisine with an edge of elegance. His charming personality and broken English make the lesson just as fun as it is informative.
For the carb inclined, a local nonna from the village comes up to show you, in her abrupt but endearing manner, how to create ravioli. Flour and farm fresh eggs become the most heavenly mouthful of spinach and cheese filled goodness. And sweet lovers like me have to take a chocolate making class with Chef Diego Poli. You start with cacao beans and end with the luscious, melt-in-your hand chocolate before you finish your espresso.
I love to EAT Italian food, so it’s high time that I learn how to cook it, the Italian way! Michelin star chef, Silvia Baracchi invited myself and my parents to have a cooking class with her at her cute Tuscan kitchen on the breath-taking relais & chateaux estate of Il Falconiere. We made a 3 course meal from scratch, sipping wine, learning tricks and laughing along the way. A bonus is you get to eat what you make later on at their stunning al fresco restaurant. A truly memorable afternoon and meal.