Basic ingredients: These week-long, residential cookery courses for 15 to 18 year olds are held between late July and early September in an attractive 200-year-old farmhouse, approximately 40 miles inland from La Rochelle. At the helm is experienced cookery teacher and food writer Midge Shirley. As course tutor at her own cookery school in Brussels, Midge revelled in the culinary journey of her students and this inspired her to launch Teen Cooks summer camps in France. From Monday to Friday, during either morning or evening sessions, a group of no more than five students is guided through three hours of hands-on cookery. They prepare a three-course meal each day using cherry-picked recipes adapted for everyday use – blue cheese and tomato tart drizzled with home-made basil oil, steamed fish parcels and chicken with red pepper sauce – and pack in trips to farmers’ markets to round off their culinary education. The course can be used towards Duke of Edinburgh awards and costs £525 per person, which includes food, tuition, en-suite accommodation, day trips and transport, but excludes international travel.
They say: Students learn to cook a series of meals in a beautiful French house. The friendly atmosphere and relaxing surroundings, swimming pool, trips to local towns and markets ensure a foodie week to remember.
We say: We love the relaxed setting, affordable all-inclusive price tag and the small classes, which allow plenty of time to quiz the tutor. Midge Shirley’s ethos – “a practical approach is far more effective than demonstrations alone” – should encourage students seeking an immersive introduction to cookery. Testimonials suggest that ‘teen cooks’ become ‘keen cooks’ after a week of Gallic gastronomy (and plenty of chocolate) with their influential instructor.
0033 546 24 65 09 or 0752 227 4535; www.teencooks.co.uk