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“Second Time Around!”

The Awaiting Table Cookery School in Lecce, Italy
Ranked #2 of 10 Food & Drink in Lecce
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: For the last 14 years, The Awaiting Table Cookery school has been the most praised cooking school and wine programme in all Puglia. Located in the historical centre of Lecce, Italy, and during selected weeks throughout the year, in a castle an hour south of Lecce, students from 52 countries come to go deeper into The Mediterranean Diet, and local, world-class wines. Our school has appeared in The London Times, Food & Travel, The LA Times, Bon Appetit, The New York Times, Food and Wine, as well as Chinese, Japanese, American and Dutch television. The owner, Silvestro Silvestori, is a nationally-certified sommelier here in Italy, as well as a wine journalist for a major international wine magazine. All classes are hands-on, fun but our students learn a lot in two of the most beautiful kitchens in Italy.
Germany
Level Contributor
22 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 26 helpful votes
“Second Time Around!”
Reviewed November 22, 2012

I already had one week of Awaiting Table under my belt, but this past summer I could no longer control my longing for southern Italy and decided to sign up for a second session at the school. After all, my orecchiette technique still left something to be desired. I selected the San Martino celebration at the Castle in Spongano and by mid-August was counting the days until departure.

The week flew by, highlighted by daily visits to the market, planning our daily menus, and early morning sessions at the bar for cappuccino sustenance. The staff, who organized the cooking sessions and our castle stay, added so much to the experience with their good cheer and local knowledge. Add numerous chats and lessons by the fireplace with a crackling fire, hands-on cooking in a well-equipped, atmospheric kitchen, and delectable, candle-lit meals with a convivial group of people and you’ve got a perfect vacation.

The castle is an elegant venue that makes the experience even more special. Bedrooms are spacious and comfortable; a great hall (with the fireplace) provides a focus for conversations and room for a large dining table where we gathered for lunch and dinner. Because everyone is living under the same roof, it is easy to get to know the fellow cooks. The castle grounds include a large swimming pool, a small orchard of citrus trees, and enough rosemary, lavender and bay leaves to supply all the cooking schools in Italy.

Yes, we repeated some of the dishes I had cooked before, but they were good the first time and better the second time. Better yet, this is simple, uncomplicated food that I can easily cook in my own kitchen at home. I tried my hand at things I’d never done before--cleaning octopus, squid and cuttlefish and cutting up rabbit. And this time, I think I got the hang of making orecchiette, the signature pasta of the Salentino. That, however, will not stop me from coming back a third time--there’ll always be something different on the menu and more to learn.

Visited November 2012
Helpful?
1 Thank 891236503
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cucinapugliese, Owner at The Awaiting Table Cookery School in Lecce, Italy, responded to this review, December 10, 2012
We're really grateful that you were able to make it down form Germany to join for San Martino, our favourite holiday of the year! It's nice to be able to share both programmes with you, that in Lecce and now at the castle too. Hope you can make back for a third time, as you said. At 4 you win something special (although, to be honest, we have figured out just what!).

Thanks again for it making it a very special holiday!
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English first
Toronto, Canada
1 review
“A culinary delight!”
Reviewed November 19, 2012

After much research on cooking schools in Italy, I decided to give Awaiting Table a try since it seemed to incorporate many of the elements I was looking for; a definitive local flavour, visits to local food markets and an educational component on food, oils and wines. It did not disappoint on any level.

First of all, Lecce, where Awaiting Table is located, is a gorgeous Italian city (often left out of the more common tourist trails) filled with stunning baroque architecture, pedestrian filled squares, and loads of outdoor cafes. The cooking school itself is a peaceful oasis in the city with lots of quirky details that are endlessly fascinating from the cookbook laden shelves to the unique ensemble of wall hangings to the beautiful cooking space strewn with dried herbs and loads of lovely light that leads into a large herb garden. The school itself was a much larger learning experience that I had anticipated. If you thought you knew a lot about pasta (like I did), you are in for a surprise. For 6 days, we learned not only about the local pasta indigenous to the region (there is no such thing as spaghetti in the south) but about the larger, diverse food cultures of Italy and how Italian food has become homogenized when exported. We cooked countless new Italian dishes, made tons of pasta, and expanded our knowledge of regional food and wines. We also ate, drank and laughed our way to bed every night!

The Awaiting Table is well worth every penny. I have been surprised at how many dishes I have recreated now back in Canada, much to the happiness and delight of those around me. As someone who has been working in the food industry for over 12 years and a hardcore foodie, I would highly recommend this school!

Visited October 2012
Helpful?
Thank ranibabe
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cucinapugliese, Owner at The Awaiting Table Cookery School in Lecce, Italy, responded to this review, November 20, 2012
Yes, great to have you! It's always nice to be able to talk food with those in the industry! Thank you for that! And regarding 'spaghetti', I think you mean that egg pasta doesn't play a part in Southern Italian pasta traditions, not historically. Still, your enthusiasm for Southern Italian food comes across my computer screen! Hope to have you back!
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Naples, Italy
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Better Than Advertised”
Reviewed November 19, 2012

What a great experience!! The castle is really very nice with everything in excellent condition. A very dedicated staff sets the tone early making it clear your needs are their number one concern. The actual cooking experience is laced with history, local traditions and local seasonal foods. The first night home I cooked one of the recipes with great success. This was my first experience with a cooking school. I got really lucky with Awaiting Table.

Visited November 2012
Helpful?
1 Thank Pat C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cucinapugliese, Owner at The Awaiting Table Cookery School in Lecce, Italy, responded to this review, November 20, 2012
What a pleasure having you! It was a delight to talk Napoli with you all week, to hear how food and wine changes between la Puglia and Campnia. We hope to have you back someday. And we hope the birds survived! ;)
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Level Contributor
9 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“SURPRISE!”
Reviewed November 7, 2012

When my friend talked to me about The Awaiting Table, I immediately thought that it would be a good excuse for a road-trip from Montpellier, France where we live to the heel of Italy! I’d been OFF cooking for the better part of a year, so the school was a secondary issue for me.

We went, we cooked, we returned home, and I’ve cooked more in the last two weeks than I have in the last six months! The Awaiting Table was inspiring. The cuisine of Puglia is deliciously simple and simply delicious! The school itself is quite inviting, and Sylvestro and his team made us feel very welcome. The ambiance is warm, and attention to detail acute.

I live alone, so cooking is no longer a daily necessity. However, after learning all of the marvelous recipes and TECHNIQUES at The Awaiting Table, I’ve been preparing fantastic, simple, and low-cal meals for myself on a regular basis. Each one has been scrumptious.

Lecce is a Baroque jewel, and one should not be intimidated by its distance from the major hubs of Italy, but jump on the occasion to discover a truly amazing region where relatively few tourists dare tread.

Visited October 2012
Helpful?
1 Thank Pocahantus
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cucinapugliese, Owner at The Awaiting Table Cookery School in Lecce, Italy, responded to this review, November 20, 2012
Two ladies from France, who wouldn't be just tickled to have you two for the week! We're glad that you made the drive! Hope to have you both back in the near future!
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Zurich, Switzerland
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“A great day!”
Reviewed November 5, 2012

I had such a great time while joining the class for only one day at the cooking school at the Castello. That this was possible is already worth saying thank you to Silvestro! I felt welcome and comfortable from the first minute. Silvestro is a wonderful host. The staff is super attentive and kind and so have been the other people from the class. Cheerful and happy such was the ambiance that whole day.
The day was structured in an interesting introduction held by Silvestro, preparing lunch together and enjoying the wonderful meal outside in the luscious garden, a couple hours break, preparing dinner, a selected wine tasting before serving dinner at a the carefully and beautifully set table.
I very much liked the start with listening to Silvestro who is absolutely competent in his knowledge about Italian food and its culture.
The cooking experience in the perfectly layouted kitchen was being in heaven for me: within the first hour i have learned the secret of how to make orecchiette, cavatelli and fusili... and they all were heavenly!

Visited October 2012
Helpful?
Thank Cristine4466
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cucinapugliese, Owner at The Awaiting Table Cookery School in Lecce, Italy, responded to this review, November 10, 2012
What a pleasure it was for us to be able to sneak you into our course at the castle. And coming all the way from Switzerland just to cook with us, well, it's a great compliment.

We hope to have you back, maybe next time in a larger dose!

Grazie!
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