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“top-notch culinary experience”

The Awaiting Table Cookery School in Lecce, Italy
Ranked #2 of 9 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.
Los Angeles, California
2 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“top-notch culinary experience”
Reviewed June 16, 2013

The Awaiting Table condenses all that is great about the food of Puglia into a smart, stylish, and well organized culinary experience. If you're looking for a substantive, hands-on cooking school focused on one of Italy's most delicious cuisines, this is the place for you.

The immersive lessons will appeal to beginners and seasoned cooks alike. We made fresh pasta each morning and worked with a variety of fantastic ingredients: mussels from Taranto, D.O.P. rabbit, exceptional olive oil, the school's own preserved tomatoes, beautiful local produce, fresh local cheese, herbs straight from the garden. The school is run by Silvestro, whose expertise and passion shine through in every detail. He does a great job of pairing wines with each meal and we drank and learned about some truly delicious wines from Puglia and beyond. Considering the quality of the food, wine, lessons, and overall experience, the tuition for a week-long course is an excellent value.

While we learned and cooked a lot, the experience was also very laid back and relaxing. Our family-style meals were long, leisurely, and utterly enjoyable. The school's warm and talented staff of Anna, Giuseppe, and Giorgio are truly great at what they do and there were lots of little surprises and personal touches that made the experience really special. I attended on my own and can't wait to go back with friends and family.

Note that the school has two different venues--I attended a week-long course at the Castle, but there's also the school's charming space in Lecce, an appealing city with much to offer the food-minded traveller.

Visited May 2013
Helpful?
Thank Jason G
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, October 30, 2013
You politely failed to mentioned that you're a culinary professor, something that I think only increases the weight of your opinion. Still, come back with that man of yours! We'd love to do something special for you as well!
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254 reviews from our community

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English first
Bedford, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
66 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 51 helpful votes
“A great introduction to southern Italian cooking”
Reviewed June 12, 2013

Silvestro and his small team have done a great job in building up a cookery school for those looking for a short break in the wonderful and beautiful city of Lecce right in the "heel of Italy".

The formula has now been tried and tested and we left not just with more cookery skills but with a deeper understanding of the culture and history of the region.

A great feature coming on a course like is working alongside the other participants who all share a common interest in good food. There's no shortage of things to talk about.

Silvestro is a big picture man which I found enormously helpful. He puts things into a bigger context in a manner that I certainly had not thought of before. Thus how food in each of the regions of Italy is very different responding to local circumstances.

He's also very good at advising on how to spot and buy quality ingredients and has been very ready to answer email queries once the course was over.

One thing that intrigued me about Lecce is that there are so few overweight people. There's something special in the diet and cooking that makes this so.

There's a generosity about the school which is very pleasing. Thus as we made for the train station at the end of our week a wonderful packed lunch together with everything we needed as delivered to our b&b.

Visited June 2013
Helpful?
2 Thank MikesSm
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, June 18, 2013
What a treat it was to have you two with us, especially with your insights into the history of British food, a subject too often maligned without much of understanding of the impact that the 19th and 20th century had on the country. Hope to have you back someday! And thanks for the kind words!
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Denver
2 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“A fabulous way to master Southern Italian cooking”
Reviewed June 1, 2013

What a wonderful experience. Six days staying in a castle in Puglia, Italy cooking southern Italian dishes and drinking wines from the region....what's not to like about that! Sylvestro and his staff were amazing....very knowledgeable, funny, and very patient as we attempted to master the techniques, especially the pastas. This was a very hands-on cooking school with lots of practice and practical advice. I have attended other cooking schools, most with a French cooking emphasis, and The Awaiting Table was by far the best experience. Fresh ingredients, cooked simply, served family style in a beautiful setting, with lots of wine and good times....magnifico!

Visited May 2013
Helpful?
2 Thank DenverBarbara
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, June 18, 2013
We're thrilled that you not only made it to the castle, but that you seemed to love the place as much as we do. We're there 7 weeks this year, each time a nice little retreat into the food and wine, just different enough from that of Lecce to keep it interesting. We hope you can make it back someday!
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Englewood, Colorado
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Wonderful experiences and memories "await" you in Lecce!”
Reviewed May 30, 2013

I have always wanted to take an Italian cooking class (in Italy, of course!), but have not always been a fan of heavy pastas, cream sauces with lots of meat and cheese! When my chef friend, Michele Morris, told me about Sylvestro and his Awaiting Table school in Puglia (in the "heel of the boot"), I knew it was meant to be. I was not disappointed. Sylvestro imparts an intelligent and witty combination of lecture and hands-on learning about delicious southern Italian cuisine. He and his incredible staff go to amazing lengths to make the time in school more than just that. Cooking, eating, drinking and relaxing in a beautiful Italian countryside setting is well worth it! A conflict prevented me from staying the entire week, but I learned so much and will be back next year for more!

Visited May 2013
Helpful?
2 Thank KBMillerCO
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, June 18, 2013
Yes, it was a shame you had to leave early for your son's graduation, but great news that you'll be back next year with Michele, now on her 5th visit (on some apps she'd certainly be the mayor!)

Let us know if you want your same room again. We'd be happy to do something special for you
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Denver, Colorado
Level Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Charm and Cooking at the Castle”
Reviewed May 27, 2013

We had a wonderful trip to Italy - one week in Rome and one week at The Awaiting Table castle course. Our program began in the historical center of Lecce at the "home" of The Awaiting Table where we ate lunch and were introduced to the mediterranean cuisine of the Salento. We traveled by van to the castle in Spongano for our week of cooking classes.

In a word, the castle is charming. It is relaxing and comfortable. The rooms are spacious and have attached full bathrooms. We cooked in the classroom kitchen which is highly functional and well designed, and enjoyed meals in four dining areas in and around the castle. This style of cooking is uncomplicated and flavorful. Remarkably, after a meal, we felt satisfied but not stuffed. We also learned about wines that compliment the meals. Most importantly, the staff was so helpful and patient with us. Silvestro (who owns the school), Giuseppe, and Anna were in the kitchen with us for every lesson, and Giorgio took care of everything else in the program. No detail was missed.

We also had several special extra experiences. We visited an olive oil company and learned how to taste olive oil. We visited the market to purchase fruits and vegetables. We visited the Adriatic coast twice: Castro for an afternoon, and Otranto for a day. The week also included a couple of good surprises - I wouldn't want to spoil it for the next guests!

The New York Times recently wrote about this region of Italy - Puglia - http://travel.nytimes.com/2013/03/24/travel/winter-not-summer-is-prime-in-puglia.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 - but they missed the best part! I've read that Lecce is the Florence of the South - it reminded me of Santa Fe, NM. The train from Rome to Lecce was simple and relaxing. The Palazzo Bacile di Castiglione (the castle in Spongano) is a wonderful destination with comfortable lodging. And, The Awaiting Table is an amazing experience with delicious food and wine.

Visited May 2013
Helpful?
3 Thank lbd60
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, June 18, 2013
Thanks for the kind words but we actually WERE in that New York Times article you mentioned (we spent three days with the journalist last winter). We hope you can make it back soon. In the meantime we've been in the Los Angelos Times and several European magazines and newspapers. Folks are taking notice of Puglia and the Salento. It was about time!
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