California Farm-to-Table Cooking Classes, the French Way

Taught by Chez Panisse’s head chef and set on a ranch in California’s wine country, these cooking classes are pretty darn dreamy.

California Farm-to-Table Cooking Classes, the French Way


Jean Pierre Moulle, who has presided as head chef at Chez Panisse for the past 30 years, and his daughter, Elsa de Brosses, are offering exciting new cooking classes at their Healdsburg ranch in Sonoma County. You’ll get hands-on instruction for several recipes—inspire by both French and California cooking—and the lowdown on how to grow vegetables, make jams, and forage. In short, it’s an insider’s guide to the perfect transcontinental farm-to-table lifestyle.

Capped at just five guests, the classes will teach students to cook the sorts of recipes that are found in Jean Pierre and his wife Denise’s cookbook French Roots: Two Cooks, Two Countries, and the Beautiful Food Along the Way. Think classics such as cassoulet, roasted duck over fire, vegetable tians, clafoutis, ice cream, and tarte tatin. What exactly you’ll make depends on what’s in season in their garden and at the local farmers market—exactly how serious French and Californian chefs like to cook. Each guest will receive a copy of the book, too, which weaves together recipes with stories of growing up in France and the couple’s adult life in California.

Regardless of whether you choose to take the single-day version of the course or the full, two-day weekend offering, the sessions begin with guests gathering at the ranch for a warm drink and bite to eat before heading to the extensive vegetable gardens to help pick ingredients for the day’s recipes.

The setting is exquisite: an outdoor kitchen by the lake and a classic red-barn kitchen. Throughout the day, Jean Pierre imparts essential French cooking tips while the group prepares five recipes for a three-course lunch.

It’s worth it to take a whole weekend of classes at the ranch, too. During the Saturday classes, Denise, who is from a prominent Bordeaux wine family, leads a detailed wine tasting at the next-door winery. On Sundays, Elsa offers an extensive tour of the ranch, showing off the bee hives, chicken coop, cattle, root cellar, and much more to give guests a deeper understanding of sustainable farming.

Both days, lunch is served at the ranch with the food prepared during your cooking class, including wine to pair.

Jean Pierre, Denise, and Elsa divide their time between California and their stone barn in Bordeaux, where they have offered cooking classes and wine and food tours for many years. Once you get a taste of their California class, it won’t be long until you’re fantasizing about booking a ticket to France for the Bordeaux original.

Essential Info

Price: $500 per person for one day; $900 per person for two

What’s included: Meals and beverages are included for both days. The Moulles recommend staying at the nearby Hotel Healdsburg or Raford Inn for a complete Sonoma experience.

Next available dates: May 14th, 15th, 28th & 29th; July 16th, 17th, 30th & 31st; August 13th, 14th, 27th & 28th

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