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“… We came expecting to learn and expand our knowledge of cooking – little did we know how much more it would be!! … I can’t imagine a more complete experience.”
Steve & Karen C. – Palatine, IL

Culinary Learning Vacations

Essential Skills

Your next vacation becomes a culinary adventure as you learn skills and techniques you can use everyday. The Culinary Learning Vacations focus on essential skills ranging from basic cooking techniques to advanced. Skills that you will use everyday and that will give you confidence in the kitchen.

In the Culinary Learning Vacations, we cover topics ranging from pantry essentials, stocks, soups and sauces to cooking techniques for various cuts of meats, fish and vegetables. We talk about the difference between braising and roasting and why you should do one versus the other. Each day we will work with recipes that incorporate a variety of cooking methods such as sautéing, roasting, broiling and poaching. You will also learn basic cutting techniques, how to choose the right knife for the task, as well as how to select and care for your knives.

At the more advanced level, we use master recipes and recipe concepts as a springboard for “kitchen improvisation”. We study flavor dynamics and balance as you learn to enhance flavors while adding your own style and flare to the dishes we create.

 Each day you will also have free time for you to enjoy and explore the Napa Valley on your own. Price includes hands-on instruction, reference manual with recipe handouts and meals prepared by the class served with wine/beverage. Accommodations are additional.

Menus are seasonally adjusted but may include items such as Garden Vegetable Soup; Caponata; Flat Bread with Grilled Vegetables; Herb Crusted Tenderloin; Salmon en Papillote; Hazelnut Biscotti and more. We will make pantry recipes to have on hand for everyday cooking like Red Pepper Aioli; Sundried Tomato Pesto and Garlic Béchamel Sauce

Sample 3-day Itinerary
Sample Boot Camp Itinerary


Cook's Boot Camp


The Boot Camp for Cooks will give you a real boost in your kitchen skills. The class size is limited to 6 participants to ensure very personalized instruction. The course  is geared to advanced level cooks who are confident in the kitchen but want to expand their skills to a new level. Building on your culinary expertise you will learn techniques using the concept of ‘master’ recipes to allow you more creativity in the kitchen. Students will make stocks which are used as a base for other recipes and sauces. You will learn about flavor dynamics and presentation skills. Topics covered include primary and secondary sauces, egg-based sauces, bread baking, pastries, ingredient selection and storage, menu planning and entertaining; and much more. We discuss essentials for a well-stocked pantry and sample menus that can be created from your pantry to enhance your every-day meals. Learn about different products with comparative tastings and how to use them to enhance your favorite recipes. 

On one day during the week, in addition to our daily kitchen session,  we will take a culinary excursion. Depending on availability and season, we may visit an estate vineyard for a culinary garden tour followed by a formal food and wine pairing; or perhaps a session with an olive oil producer to learn about various types of oils and the processing. Other options include visiting a local grower, food producer or farmers' market to learn about food at the source and how to select the season’s best picks. Or we may visit a winery for a tasting and  to learn what to consider in pairing food with wine when planning menus. Each day you will also have free time for you to enjoy and explore the Napa Valley on your own.

Students will harvest herbs, vegetables and fruits from the gardens at CasaLana to use in the recipes prepared. Menus are seasonally adjusted but may include items such as Gingered Carrot Soup with Creme Fraiche; Vegetable Strudel with Sauce Soubise; Semolina Flat Bread with Grilled Vegetables; Hand-made Raviolis with Roasted Vegetables and Pesto; Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb; Pan-Seared Salmon; Creamy Risotto; Warm Chocolate Souffle with Creme Anglaise and more.

Please click to see our list of 3-day courses and enroll online:
3-day Courses
Please click to see our list of 5-day Boot Camp courses and enroll online:
5-day Courses