When I travel abroad, I tend to head for the comforts of home. Most often, Italy, my former home. But when the opportunity arose for me to experience France through the eyes of the chef, I could not resist. I have to admit, the last time I was in France I was not too keen on the food. I seemed to eat a lot of eggs and grilled cheese sandwiches. But spending a week with British chef Katherine Frelon at her French château and cooking school, La Ferme de la Lochere, opened my eyes to the glories of French food and wine. I’ve always said, given the choice between paté and pasta, I would choose pasta. But Katherine may have changed all that. Nothing on this trip feels touristy. It is authentic France. I shopped at the market for dinner ingredients, prepared gourmet meals alongside Katherine, visited with family winemakers and enjoyed leisurely afternoons in the village. Katherine, a French resident for more than two decades, has renovated a lovely five bedroom villa, stocked with the finest amenities, in the most sleepy Burgundy village of Marigny le Cahouet. Katherine offers French cooking lessons to her guests including romantic weekends, girlfriend getaways, and weeklong French cooking immersion classes. For her guests, Katherine prepares exquisite multi-course evening meals that last for hours, each dish delicately paired with one of Burgundy’s most preferred wines. You’ll cook in her gourmet kitchen and learn the intricacies of French sauces, artfully butchered meats, and elegant cheese platters. As a “student”, you’ll visit the famed Dijon market, designed by Gustav Eiffel, which turns into a scavenger hunt as Katherine sends you in search of a list of ingredients for dinner. There’s also a full-day spent making bread at a small organic bakery that’s a true hands-in experience. And to fully appreciate the delicacies of the region, the week includes a visit to Burgundy’s only snail farm, complete with its electric fence to keep the critters from escaping. By day, you learn to shop and cook, and by night, guests stuff themselves silly one of the Katherine’s exquisite meals. Both lunch and evening meals are delicately paired with a selection of Burgundy’s best wines. La Ferme de la Lochere offers true luxury accommodations for up to 10 people. You can also rent the entire villa and hire Katherine as your personal gourmet chef for your stay.
Katherine partners with Brendan, of Wine Liaisons, the perfect guide for exploring the wine of Burgundy. His humor, coupled with his knowledge of the region and relationships with local wineries, is an experience not to miss. Brendan says, “there are no winemakers in Burgundy, only farmers.” The farmers of Burgundy tend to their grape crops unlike any others. Brendan teaches his guests how to truly enjoy wines, saying, “The wines are not prepared for you. You must adapt to the wines.” He offers a range of day or multi-day tours throughout the region, including visits with esteemed family wineries.