The Case Vecchie Cookery School is on a mission to build bridges between hands-on horticulture and culinary expertise by getting farmers into the kitchen, and chefs into the field.

The school was founded in 1989 by Palermo native Anna Tasca Lanza, whose vision was to spread Sicilian home cooking to America, and since then has played host to a number of influential food personalities – including Alice Waters.


Housed in a 19th century villa, Case Vecchie is set within the beautiful surroundings of the Tasca D’Almerita estate in Sicily, and is now run by Anna’s daughter, Fabrizia Lanza. Their ethos is drawn from their unique surroundings, with a focus on terroir and the diverse abundance of ingredients that can be found in the region. Anna’s fascination with rare produce can also be seen in the orchard of endangered fruit trees and an entire garden dedicated to herbs.

With its new five-week programme the school makes the most of its location to offer students the opportunity to experience farm-to-table cooking. Participants will not only learn how to create traditional Sicilian recipes but also about the history behind the products used.

As the school explains: “Food cannot be reduced to a simple recipe or a cooking technique – there must be knowledge about the time, labour, nutrition, sustainability and the economics of the products used when cooking.”

Learning from the Sicilians’ fantastic connection with both their land and soil, students will also develop an understanding of terroir. The course will cover the ingredients and techniques that are specific to Sicily, including wheat, cheese, olive oil, honey, wine, pastry and horticulture.


Rosie Bowden, a young gardener who is currently working at the cookery school, writes: “I can honestly say, from having only been at Case Vecchie for three weeks, the diversity and depth of experience here is unique. I have never met so many passionate, enquiring and characterful people – scientists, farmers, entrepreneurs and chefs.”

The programme will take place from 18th January to 20th February 2015 and is open to graduates of culinary science courses or those with a background in food or food business.

To take part in the course, you need to send your CV to along with a covering letter that addresses the following questions:

  • What is your cooking background?
  • Have you ever lived or worked on a farm?
  • What do you hope to gain from the programme?
  • What kind of unique skills or experiences do you bring, either in farming, permaculture or cooking?

The deadline for applications has been extended until Sunday, 26th October. For more information on fees and accommodation visit

Feature image by Stijn Nieuwendijk

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