The International Kitchen - Classic Tuscan Table

The International Kitchen - Classic Tuscan Table

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About
A Classic Tuscan Table is an authentic cooking vacation that takes place at Chef Claudio’s charming B&B property, set amidst the vineyards, olive groves, swimming pool and two huge vegetable and fruit gardens with wonderful views of the valley. The teaching kitchen and restaurant are both on site, and visitors enjoy excursions to local Tuscany sites of interest.
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The area
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Neighborhood: Santa Maria Novella
Santa Maria Novella train station welcomes the majority of the people arriving in Florence, which might explain the hectic pace. Commuters and tourists come across the constant hustle and bustle of the station before exiting, taking a few steps and stopping amazed in Piazza di Santa Maria Novella. It is impossible not to admire the the square, housing one of the most charming basilicas in Florence. The area has plenty of local spots to taste Tuscan specialties, but don’t stop in the main streets alone; the narrower side streets always ensure satisfaction. The huge Parco Delle Cascine provides a solution to the need for a green area as well as a historic welcome in the form of a bronze statue of King Vittorio Emanuele II riding a horse.
Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.

4.5
30 reviews
Excellent
27
Very good
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Average
1
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Terrible
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barnloves2travel
Gatineau, Canada148 contributions
Sep 2012 • Couples
I had promised myself when I turned 50 that I would travel to Tuscany and take cooking lessons - well thanks to my husband!! and the International Kitchen - my dream came true.

This was an amazing experience. Truly an all inclusive trip - food - wine - room - cooking lessons - transportation - after you pay for your holidays - you do not have to spend any other money - its great and well worth it.

My husband and I had the 4 night 5 day program with Chef Claudio - it was great! We were very lucky as we were alone so we had his entire undivided attention. He is so very passionnate about cooking and sharing his experience with you and is so very generous of his time and talent. He gauges your level of cooking and adapts his lessons to what you are able to do - so dont sweat it - you don't need to be a Michelin chef - its all good.

The rooms are very private and beautiful. The grounds are so very pretty and straight out of a picture postcard of Tuscany - rows upon rows of grapevines and olive trees. Ask Claudio to give you a tour of his garden it is amazing!! Fig, pear and peach trees bulging with fruit which you get to eat fresh every day. now comes the bad news!

You will never eat so much good food and drink the best wines as you will do in this trip - bring loose clothes as you will need it!!!! the food is great and Claudio believes in making sure people are well fed - my oh my it was unbelievable !! I think we gained over 5 pounds each!

The people at the Internaitonal Kitchen rock! They are so very organized and so very helpful - especially Mona. You can do everything via email but they also actually call you before you leave to make sure you have everything you need. They are very helpful - they send you all the required information and everything unfolds as they tell you.

You may think its pricy but believe me - it is well worth the money - the private guides, the private transfers the attention from everyone - they make you feel like you are so very special - truly the best experience. AMAZING - DO IT!!!!!!!
Written October 11, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Lucie2011744
Scottsdale, AZ2 contributions
Sep 2011 • Friends
OMG! This trip melted my heart. My sister and I attended Chef Claudio's Classic Tuscan Table. If anyone is thinking about attending a cooking school in Italy and loves it eat, this is the one. Great food, wine, Chef Claudio and the staff are charming, wonderful excursion trips, breath taking scenery and we made friends we'll keep for a lifetime. Words can not describe our experience. We're bringing our brothers back and making it a family vacation. Dreams DO come true. Grazie, Lucie S.
Written October 21, 2011
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Judyzahn
Naples, FL2 contributions
Sep 2014 • Couples
The International Kitchen planned our twelve day trip to Sicily. It was stellar from beginning to end. Working with them was a joy. The staff was professional and personable, listening to our particular wants and providing us with a wonderful itinerary. The company they are associated with in Sicily is of the highest quality and every minute spent with their knowledgeable guides was a pleasure; making the trip special from the markets to the amazing antiquities.
This was our third trip in Italy arranged by the International Kitchen, all unique, with some terrific cooking experiences. We would highly recommend them.
Written October 8, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

ramblinroseeaston
Easton, MD8 contributions
Jul 2013
As an edit to an earlier review, I am not pleased with being charged $100 when I cancelled minutes after booking a cooking class. I understand they do not allow cancellations but this seemed unreasonable. The owner demanded I remove the posting citing the fact that their cancellation policy is prominently placed. Still, being penalized for a senior moment in not realizing the cost for two was considerably higher than I had realized, I believe a more gracious attitude was warranted.
Written September 5, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
I asked that you remove your post as it was filled with untruths. Our site CLEARLY states the price of any class PER PERSON. We confirmed your class, processed the payment and sent you your invoice and voucher. As good as we are, that takes more than a few seconds, and, indeed, it was the following day you cancelled. We kept a modest fee to cover the credit card charges (both for the charge and the credit) and our time. You are an educated person, with advanced degrees. I am surprised you would read a description that says per person and not understand what that means. We have been in business for almost twenty years and provide exemplary products and service. Karen Herbst
Written September 6, 2013
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

410mimi
Baltimore, MD23 contributions
Jun 2013 • Family
I could easily write a quick review of our 6 day cooking course with Chef Claudio with a few long sentences and many choice adjectives, but that would be grossly unfair for it was so much more than that! Can I give it a rave review with at least 10 stars?.....Absolutely!

It is 6 weeks since my daughter and I returned from our 16 day 'cooking and eating' tour of Tuscany, the highlight of which was the week we spent with Chef Claudio at his Cooking School and B&B in Figline, Valdarno. I have purposely waited so long to write a review for I truly couldn't believe that the euphoria we both felt could possibly last more than a few weeks. Well.....Nothing has changed! We think of him and our time with him EVERY day. We look at our watches and think, "I wonder what they are doing now." Every Sunday we think of the new group arriving and hope their experience comes even close to the one we enjoyed. We cook Italian for anyone who will sit still long enough to eat it. Families, friends and neighbors are thrilled by our willingness to 'share' our new recipes. Our time with that dear little genius was so above and beyond anything we expected that we are still pinching ourselves to have had such an intense cooking experience and, for the last 2 days, had him all to ourselves for the only other couple was there for only 4 days.

Our initial impressions were not exactly what we expected. After driving along a long dusty, narrow road, we rounded a sharp curve to see ahead of us.....a farm...complete with chickens, an open dusty porch, expansive gardens, vineyards and olive groves. Hmmmm We were told to wait on the porch and Claudio would be out to greet us momentarily for he was in the middle of serving a late lunch to more than a dozen or so inside the house. In no time he rushed out to greet us with a huge smile and handshake. Our rooms were ready and he'd look forward to seeing us again at dinner. We were guided across the road, through tall weeds and flowers, to our rooms. The 2 large, air-conditioned rooms and large bath with both tub and shower were more than comfortable. We couldn't help but look at each other with a quizzical expression as though to ask...."What have we done?"

After unpacking, a shower and a nap, it was time to venture out. It was nearly dusk now as we made our way up the several stone steps to the dining area where soft lights cast a lovely glow around the pool. Twinkling candles highlighted the white linen covered tables and chairs. The warm scent of flowering vines filled the air. Hmmmm This was more like it! We were greeted by Waheed, Claudio's wonderful Egyptian server who has been with him for many years and led to a place to the side of the dining area where we were treated to unlimited Prosecco and hors d' oeuvres. About an hour later we were shown to our table where we would spend the next 3 hours enjoying one fantastic course after another of the most creative, delicious food. We never looked back! Not once during the week did we ever feel that we didn't have the full focus of his attention even though he had the responsibility of cooking for his award winning restaurant and the daily business of running his expansive farm, vineyards and olive groves.

This is not a slick, polished, well rehearsed, lost in the crowd cooking course but, rather, a hands on practical approach to down to earth food preparation under the firm but gentle guidance of Chef Claudio who is always at your side guiding, coaching, and cheering you on to more success than you might ever have thought possible. Even though we arrived with our own well established cooking skills, we waited like kids for his quick smile, wink and enthusiastic, "Perfecto"! It made us work even harder to follow his every move, jotting down those special tricks and asking many questions to be sure we didn't miss anything. It's 6 weeks later and we are still critiquing our work and sharing little hints on a regular basis.

One not only gets 4 days of 3 hour classes of many courses in his teaching kitchen but then comes lunch 'of our own effort' which he cheerfully serves in the dining room at the house. Excursions were planned for 2 afternoons and 1 full day. We were driven by delightful, English speaking guides to various scenic towns to enrich our Italian adventure even more. The Medieval towns were fantastic. Arezzo and Siena were preparing for their 700 year old traditional Palio or 90 second horse race around the town center. Imagine bringing horses into the Cathedral for blessing before the race! In Greve in the Chianti region, we visited Falorni's, the Oldest Butcher Shop in Italy and were mesmerized by the many hundreds of hams hanging by their hooves as far as one could see from many ceilings, some even with bristles and tails attached designating them as wild boar. Unbelievable. Except for the 2 dinners out while on tour, we had the treat of a gourmet dinner each night while dear Waheed buzzed around with a huge smile making sure everyone was well served.

We decided to make the most of our last night at dinner. It was midnight and everyone else had gone. Suddenly we saw Chef Claudio coming toward us with a big smile and arms opened wide. We quickly stood and gave him a big round of applause. We shared a group hug and a few tears and then, with a big wave, he was gone. It would be the last moments we would share with him. He still had several hours of work ahead of him as he planned a bridal luncheon in town the next day for 125 people. What a guy!

When we arrived home we felt perhaps we needed a break from the concentrated diet of Italian food of the last 16 days and perhaps Chinese or crab cakes would be better. Instead, we found ourselves the very next day at our own Masteleone's for mascapone, Parmigiano- Reggiano, soft gorgonzola, OO flour and Tuscan Chianti ( hopefully with the black rooster on the neck label). Oh, my.

So....If you are a serious cook who wants to have an authentic Italian cooking experience in the best possible environment..........run, don't walk to your nearest travel agent and sign up for the 6 day course. It is said that money can't buy happiness but, for one week....It did!
Written August 9, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Thank you so much for your review, and we totally agree! The International Kitchen has been working with Claudio for almost twenty years and, amazingly, it just gets better every year! Karen Herbst, Owner/President, The International Kitchen
Written August 12, 2013
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Sharon G
Union, New Jersey, United States8 contributions
Mar 2012 • Friends
OMG!!! This was an amazing experience! Chef Claudio and family were wonderful. They treated us like family and their only student. Everyday was a new experience in tastes and techniques. We had so much fun, laughing and eating and of course drinking. The excursions were better than I thought they would be. Tuscany is breathtaking! Everyone was knowledgeable and professional and friendly. I hope someday I can go back again, maybe during the harvest to try new seasonal foods. I would recommend this trip to all, and bring all your friends. Thank you Chef!
Written April 11, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

cheryl o
Vienna, WV5 contributions
Sep 2014
I spent 6 days with Chef Claudio and his staff for a cooking vacation. It was an absolute delight. The minute we arrived he personally met us at the door and served us wine. He is a patient, kind, passionate and a great teacher of the Culinary Arts. His sister Sabrina also helps with the tours and anything you need she is there for you. She is funny and has a contagious laugh and has such a beautiful spirit. I loved the beautiful Tuscan grounds with vineyards, olive trees, fig trees, fresh vegetables and herbs. The food and wine was lovely and plentiful. I am planning to go back for another visit and I would highly recommend the Tuscan Table cooking vacation and The International Kitchen!!!!
Written September 19, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

stambj
Glendale, AZ9 contributions
Sep 2014 • Couples
This trip was amazing! The rustic Tuscan location was beautiful! The B & B had a vineyard and all sorts of fruit trees, vegetables, nuts, herbs, etc. We cooked with fresh ingredients everyday. The classes were great! Chef Claudio spent an enormous amount of time showing us techniques and sharing his recipes. We ate outside for most of our lunches and dinners under his beautiful gazebos. This trip was well worth the money we spent! We would definitely recommend the Classic Tuscan Table to people who enjoy traveling and cooking.
Written September 13, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

minny34
minneapolis23 contributions
Jul 2012 • Family
My mother and I decided to travel to Italy for the first time together; I didn't want to do a full "tour" so we agreed on taking a culinary vacation between time in Florence and Rome. We did some research and found IK. Karen, the owner, was kind enough to email back and forth with me a bit to help determine which tour would be right for us. She highly recommended the Classic Tuscan Table. I'm so glad she did. It was my favorite part of our visit to Italy.

I haven't taken a ton of cooking classes (although I cook a lot and love to eat great food) but I can't imagine a person more suited to teaching than Claudio. He's energetic, fun and very patient. He instantly made everyone in the kitchen comfortable and his recipes were easy to follow. Much of what we cooked with was straight out of his garden. The food we prepared was incredibly delicious and I learned some nice tips and tricks. The best part is, that in the week after I got back, I made at least 5 dishes from the class.

The planning of the trip was varied and well-thought out- the first day we cooked, got to know our fellow classmates and then were able to rest and relax by the pool before our incredible dinner at the restaurant. The other days we were there, the excursions were great- an afternoon trip to Arezzo one day (gorgeous town) and a trip to Greve the next, with a wine tasting at a beautiful winery.

I was actually surprised that I loved it as much as I did. I would absolutely recommend this tour to anyone, no matter how you're traveling; our group was comprised of 2 mother/daughter teams, a single woman and a mom/dad/daughter trio, and all of us felt totally comfortable. Sabrina, Daniella and Wa-heed (not sure of the spelling) were gracious and always attentive. The accommodations are rustic and comfortable, bigger than any other place we stayed while in Italy.

If I go back to this area I will definitely take another class from Claudio, even if it's just a day class (and eat a fantastic dinner at his restaurant). My one piece of advice is to be prepared to eat very, very well; I couldn't stop!
Written July 30, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Terisings
Sedona, AZ81 contributions
Oct 2014
We chose to create our own trip by booking single classes throughout the Milan/Tuscany region. We had a great trip but not all our cooking experiences were worth the high price! If I were to do it again I would book a few classes through International kitchen and Google other local teachers--this would still provide the variety I am looking for but at a substantially reduced price.
Written September 10, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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The International Kitchen - Classic Tuscan Table (Figline e Incisa Valdarno) - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go

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