Alan T , Sept 2022

You can learn French cuisine from a book, or a school wherever you live, but why would you do that when you could travel to the French countryside and learn in a small-group setting with an accomplished French chef?

A beautiful 90-minute train ride gets you from Paris to Laval, France. Chef Eric Duvin greets you at the train station. After a short drive, you arrive at the school, an old farm situated in picturesque rural France. The farmhouse sits on several hectares and is updated with modern amenities without diminishing the old-country charm. I’m not sure what I was expecting for a room, but I was surprised by the modern touches in decor and delighted by the giant, comfortable bed. The en suite bathroom is not private, rather the toilet sits next to the shower, separated from the rest of the room by a 4-foot-high wall. This might not be ideal for new couples who’ve yet to break certain barriers of intimacy.

The room temperature was kept comfortable at night by a fan. There are some windows to open wide and enjoy the fresh air, although you’ll probably want to keep them closed at night, unless the crowing of a rooster at 5:30am is how you like to wake up. I prefer the digital chirp of my cellphone, because that rooster did not have a snooze button.

The class description says, “intensive,” and that is accurate. The course is jam-packed with demonstrations, instruction, and hands-on work. Plan on working hard all day, then enjoying the product of your labor in a 6-course meal at the end of the night. Don’t let the word “intensive” scare you, though. Chef Duvin’s patience and lively demeanor make the environment fun.

Fair warning: you are there to learn to cook, but Chef Duvin’s dog, Mac, does not care. Mac requires a game of frisbee catch a few times a day. You’ll know when it’s time, as Mac will pick up his frisbee and stand at the door of the kitchen wagging his tail, staring at you with big, hopeful puppy-dog eyes. Of course, you are not obligated to entertain Mac, but I challenge you to look into those eyes and say, “No.”

To break up the hard work, we took a trip to near by Vitre, a charming small town with amazing architecture, Churches, specialty food shops, and cozy pubs. You’ll also tour the same sheep farm where Chef gets some of the cheese you’ll eat while at the school. It is deeply satisfying to eat a meal prepared by your own hand, using ingredients from places and people you’ve seen in person. One of my favorite aspects of the class was the fresh vegetables we used, straight from the garden Chef has been cultivating for several years. I’ve had many of the plants he was using to make salads, but they taste so much better when harvested fresh from the garden 5 minutes before you eat. Eat some cherry tomatoes right off the vine, pick and eat fresh mint, purple basil, kale, and parsley. You’ll be blown away by the flavor.

There is a gang of chickens roaming free in the yard, and a pen with more chickens and two cute goats. As you learn to chop vegetables and butcher chickens and fish, you’ll collect scraps. Those scraps become joy as you watch the farm animals gobble them right out of your hand. I must say, farm life agrees with me, as long as it’s only for a week or so. Then, I have to get back to dirty subway rides and bodega cats.

Get ready to eat, learn, eat, learn some more, then eat until you think that there is no room left to put another bite, then eat some more. Or, you could exercise some self-restraint and eat slightly less than I did, which is probably a good idea.

In any case, book the class. You won’t regret it.

Rene D, Sept 2022

If you are looking for a fabulous French Cooking School, I would highly recommend this school. My mother and I had a wonderful week learning, laughing, cooking and eating fabulous food. The location is beautiful, our room was very nice and Chef Eric was the best teacher. We now have a much better grasp of French cuisine and wonderful lifetime memories. Thank you Chef!

Yelena M, Sept 2022

Eric,

Thank you for the most Wonderfull experience! We enjoyed every moment of it. We learned a lot and will apply these techniques and knowledge in our kitchens. Your kindness and patience touches our hearts. Nelli, Lily and Yelena

Luisa Q, Sept 2022

Eric,

I had an amazing time! You made the experience fun and enriching! The dinner menus were always creatives and delicious! I wish you a lot of success with the business and lots of happiness!

Paula R, Sept 2022

Eric, I not only learned a lot about cooking, I had fun too! From the technical aspects to hearing stories about the Duke and getting out the house to adventure, every aspect of this course was truly wonderful. All I can think of is how much I want to come back for seconds!

Luisa Q, Sept 2022

The course is amazing! From location, the food you’re offered, the course itself and to the general experience… everything was fantastic! No better feeling than waking up to some warm baguete and finishing the day with proper fine french dining and a glass of port wine. Chef Eric is adaptable with food restrictions and food preferences, and a bit of tourism is included as well, so the course is an amazing experience overall. 10/10 would recommend and be back for a part 2!

Michelle B, Sept 2022

This is the best of the many cooking schools I have attended. Thank you Chef. You are an amazing person as well as a great Chef! FUN – FUN – FUN and knowledgeable.

Pam Mc, August 2022

This cooking school was absolutely amazing and exceeded my expectations! Eric went above and beyond to adapt the course to suit my culinary abilities. He was extremely knowledgeable and took the time to find answers to my random questions and educate me on unfamiliar cuisine. For example, I didn’t know what a floating island dessert was, so he shifted around the course to include it. It is clear Eric is passionate about what he does, and this course is a must! I recommend booking a course at Walnut Grove. You will not be disappointed or go hungry lol!

The accommodations are modern and beautiful. Mac, Eric’s dog, is very sweet and always up for some frisbee. I hope to book another class with Eric in the future and bring some friends and family!

Sylvia Mc, May 2022

The most amazing experience. We learned to make great French food in a bucolic setting in the country. The chateau is charming and the grounds are simply beautiful. Homegrown veggies and fresh eggs from the chef’s chickens are used in the food we prepared. Plus we used and sampled many local items. I learns lots of tips and tricks to improve my cooking game. To top it off, the chef prepares a 5 course meal each night as you unwind from the days lessons.

And, like many of the other reviews said, it was very hard to leave this amazing place! You won’t regret your decision to attend this cooking session!