Join BRET’S TABLE for an experience of a lifetime in the south of France. Revel in the extraordinary beauty of Provence, while relaxing with an apéritif on the patio of our chambres d’hotes de charme (charming B & B). We’ll walk in the footsteps of Julia Child as La Pitchoune is just around the corner. This was the home where she and Simone (Simca) Beck worked together on Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume II when she and Paul lived here for extended periods of time.

IMG_1187Bret Bannon, a self-professed Francophile and longtime cooking instructor in Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota will lead the tour and has already sought out adventures to maximize this once in a lifetime experience.  

Bret Bannon has spent a lifetime cooking and learning from others along the way. He was very fortunate to have apprenticed at the Park Avenue Café in New York with then-pastry chef Dan Budd and with award-winning Chocolatier BT McElrath, whose headquarters are in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

During the past 25 years or so, while at various cooking school in the Twin Cities, he worked with many notable chefs and cookbook authors including Suvir Saran, Marcus Samuelson, Anne Willian, Kathie Alex, Jeffrey Alford and Zoë François. His cooking segments aired on the mid-morning program of KARE 11 called Showcase Minnesota and he has consulted for General Mills, Inc. His recipes and food styling have also been featured in the “Savvy Host” section of Midwest Home magazine, Cooking Pleasures magazine, and most recently in the February 2016 issue of Minnesota Monthly.

Cooking Classes and Meals
Guests arrive to a welcoming bonjour from Madame Carole on Sunday afternoon and begin their cultural immersion with a casual dinner at a bistro in the local village. Continental breakfasts are served every morning. There will be cooking classes during the week where we’ll prepare multi-course lunches together. Afterwards, we will sit down and enjoy the feast. Since this part of Provence is known for the fragrant flowers used in the parfum industry, we might spend the morning cooking with belles fleurs led by a chef that specializes in the nuances of the delicate flowers.

IMG_85192332 (2)Another day might find us wondering the markets in Cannes and strolling down the cobblestone streets of the old city. Afterwards if we’re lucky enough the chef may invite us to his table to enjoy our apéritif. We’ll get a birds-eye view and behind the scenes kitchen tour at the 2-Star Michelin restaurant, before our lunch overlooking the Cote d’Azur.

20151023_150716Another day may take us on an all-day tour sampling the wines of Provence, particularly rosé, the specialty of the region. Each week’s itinerary and menus focus on what is available and in season and the chef’s availability during a particular time of year.

Evening meals are on our own, but oftentimes students will have impromptu gatherings back at our B & B enjoying the abundance of goodies from our afternoon shopping excursions! The class size is limited to six people so, typically by the end of the week, everyone has become fast friends.

Tours around Provence
In addition to meeting, working, and dining with local residents and chefs, students truly get to know their surroundings. Bret guides them through the bargains of the markets and specialty boutiques on what literally is a cook’s tour of Provence. He wants to give people a real experience of the French people, food, and local color.

Past Morning Excursions:

  • Forville, the beautiful outdoor food and flower market of Cannes. Everything from produce, flowers, Provençal house items, to a butcher shop are at the markets.
  • Lunch at a Michelin two-star restaurant in Cannes, including a ‘behind the scenes tour’ where Bret will share with us the keys to a well-designed professional kitchen.
  • Market tour in Nice, followed by a cooking lesson in a private kitchen and lunch ending about 3:00pm. There will be time to wander the streets of Nice or head on to explore other parts of the region.
  • All day wine tour with a private tour guide and expert in the wines of this region with a stop for a delicous lunch while over looking one of the valleys of Provence.

IMG_0723Possible Afternoon Excursions:

  • Fragonard, a parfumerie in Grasse, which began creating perfumes in 1926
  • A family-owned confectionary where for example, organic rose petals are turned into a delicious and ethereal jam. A spoonful is delightful in a glass of champagne as the petals unfurl and the hint of roses turn the champagne into an aperitif.
  • A trip to the hill town of Saint Paul de Vence where we’ll wander the streets.
  • Watch the glass blowers and visit the pottery shops in and around Biot.
  • If you prefer to rent your own car during your free time, the bright lights of Monte Carlo and the beaches of the Cote d’Azur may beckon, as they are only 30 to 60 minutes away.

We can also assist you with options prior to or after our tour to Paris or other destinations.