January 21, 2021 – March 22, 2021


€ 10,600

Costs do NOT include flights to and from Sicily. Breakfast, dinner and weekend meals. Individual travel and transport on weekends.

What’s Included

  • All classes, outings, and housing over the two month period
  • All lunches during lesson days (Monday to Friday)
  • Five nights accommodation during field trips around Sicily (Accommodation for overnight trips is in shared double rooms. Single rooms available for a supplemental price)  
  • Transportation to and from daily lessons and for school outings
  • Initial pick up and final drop off at select times from Palermo airport or train station
  • Access to digital content such as recipes, presentations and readings as well as printed readings and handouts
  • Weekly (optional) theater practices and Sicilian/Italian film screenings
  • The Cook the Farm kit: jumper, overalls, and tee-shirt to take home
  • Discounts and experiences available only to CTF students (from Michelin restaurants to exclusive wineries and farms)

Cook the Farm

Winter Session 2021

Cook the Farm Winter Session encourages students to experience, think and taste what is in front of them. Lectures, presentations and field work sessions by subject matter experts (agronomists, enologists, professors, food professionals, etc.) are joined with group discussion to further the conversation about food and food systems. Site visits to cheesemakers, flour mills, citrus groves and more allow insight into the cultivation and production of local products. Hands-on classes in bread baking, pasta making, and classic Sicilian cuisine are complimented with demos and tastings. To understand food from the ground up, classroom and outdoor horticultural sessions prepare students to navigate basic plant biology, soil needs, and growing techniques used for food cultivation. The program includes five nights of off site travel to explore the varying geography, food customs and traditions found around the diverse island of Sicily.


As of 2020, 56 participants have been engaged in the program. Participants have hailed from eleven different countries including the United States, Canada, Egypt, Australia, Brazil, the UK, Italy, Germany, Japan, Singapore, and the Netherlands.  Students come from backgrounds as varied as fashion, finance, farming, front-of-house and back-of-house restaurant work, wine, catering, community organizing, teaching, non-profit management, politics, and real estate. Cook the Farm graduates have carried on to start their own farmsteads, flourish in food writing careers, open bakeries, work in food education, start media consulting businesses for small producers and farmers, and run corporate dining services.

Life in Valledolmo

You’ll be living in the town of Valledolmo, just eight kilometers away from the School (a 20-minute bus ride). With not even 4,000 people, this small hill town is a picture perfect representation of life in the heart of rural Sicily. Laundry on the lines, women endlessly sweeping the stoop and many old men lining benches watching the slow pace of life. It’s a chance to immerse yourself in typical small-town life and get to know what it’s like to live in a place that has at its core agricultural roots. There are a few pizzerias and small bars for coffee and drinks. The town is about 2 hours from Palermo and Catania, 1.5 hours from Cefalu, and 1 hour from Agrigento by car. The most accessible train station is Roccapalumba-Alia (about 40 minutes away).

In a family

If you’re looking to improve your Italian and get a taste of local life, consider a homestay. Each student has their own bedroom and bathroom but shares common space with the family. You can expect to be invited to family events, meals and on weekend trips.

In the convent

Situated on the main road in town, the convent has eight single rooms each with a private bathroom. The rooms are simple with small twin beds and furnished with basic necessities. Towels and sheets are provided. Laundry and cleaning are organized weekly. There is a communal kitchen stocked with basic utensils for cooking evening and morning meals. Wifi is available but not always reliable. There are two nuns who inhabit the nunnery in separate living quarters, but you can often find them roaming the halls or listening to mass on TV. You have your own keys to come and go as you please, but it is a shared environment and you are asked to be respectful of others.


Applications for 2021 Winter Session are now closed! Thank you


Monday - Friday, 9:00 am to 4:30 pm
(with some exceptions)


(Course material in English. Translation provided for Italian lecturers/experiences)

Contact info


Number of students

Maximum 14

Projected Program 2021

Projected schedule. Activities and presenters are subject to change without notice.

Get settled into your new hometown of Valledolmo and join us at Case Vecchie to get a lay of the land. We will get to know each other and go over course aims and objectives.

Dive into the Sicilian food landscape with a taste for Sicily’s staple crop: wheat. Get familiar with wheat varieties, processing practices, and uses.


wheat (origin, diversity, and uses) | farming systems | pasta making (northern and southern techniques) | bread baking | couscous making


l​ocal flour mill | Ethnographic Museum of Vallelunga

Guest presenters

professional pasta-making master Rina Poletti | professor of agroecology Paola Migliorini | agronomist and seed specialist Gea Galuzzi

Starting from the idea of taste, we’ll explore what taste means scientifically and culturally. We focus on language as a tool for narrating our personal food experiences.



​a taste of citrus (history) in Sicily | icons of Sicilian cooking | sensorial analysis | the language of food



T​orronificio Geraci | Forno Santa Rita | Agrigento’s Kolymbetra Gardens and the Valley of the Temples | local vegetable farms


Guest presenters

f​lavor specialist Nikki Welch | horticulturist and citrus expert Cassandra Fusten | author and Sicilian historian Mary Taylor Simeti | Guardian food columnist and cookbook author Rachel Roddy

A focus on animals and animal products. A chance to think about how our food consumption shapes our identity and question the ethics of meat-eating.


​small batch cheese making |  the art of butchering | a Sicilian BBQ | taste starting from the pasture


 a three day trip to western Sicily | two nights in Trapani | visiting salt flats, the island of Mozia, Cantina Florio, Erice, pastry icon Maria Gramatico and at home in Alcamo with Mary Taylor Simeti

Guest presenters

goat cheese maker and breeder Giacomo Gati | Palermitan butcher Emmanuele Cottone | semiotics professor Gianfranco Marrone

Step back and consider how we give value to food and what we consider quality.


all things honey related |  the role of a shepherd | how to make marmalades and candied citrus


a day in the life of a shepherd

Guest presenters

f​ood educator Barny Haughton and Mario Traina | honey maker Andrea Paternoster | beekeeper Carlo Amodeo

Wine starting from the vine. An in-depth look at winemaking and the development of a Sicilian wine identity. We examine the concept of terroir, what is “natural,” and communicating the wine experience.


vine pruning, soil tilling and treatment | technicalities of winemaking | Sicilian grape varieties | the pairing of wine and food | natural wine vs. “not natural” | sustainability in wine | wine tasting and talking with winemakers


t​he winery at Tasca D’Almerita | pruning in the vineyards

Guest Presenters

Professional pruner Livio Tognon | Enologist Laura Orsi |  author, professor and natural wine expert Sandro Sangiorgi | Sicilian winemakers Nino Barracco and Marco Sferlazzo | Tasca winery Sustainability manager Vanessa Dioguardi and agronomist Davide Bacchiega

A chance to experience and understand the local Valledolmo food system. Get inspired by community-based projects like Slow Food. Then dive into the vast world of olive oil.



interview and observe local food purveyors of Valledolmo | preparation of Sicilian cassata | the history of Slow Food | olive oil: history, the making of, tasting for defects and quality



V​alledolmo food systems (site visits to local producers of pasta, tomato products, wine and more)


Guest presenters

Slow Food presidium president Francesco Sottile | cultural heritage and olive oil expert Sarah Wolferstan

Take some time to contemplate the history and implementation of the Mediterranean diet. Take a comparative look at differences in cuisine between Sicily and this year’s featured country, Egypt.


​differences in preparation and ingredients within the Mediterranean (in comparison with Egypt) | the science of nutrition | the commodification of food labels


4 days and three nights in the Etna area | hiking on Mount Etna | visiting two different wineries | the best granita around | pistachio cultivation | cuisine of Etna

Guest presenters

Egyptian chef Omar Marsafy and Egyptian historian Mennat-Allah El Dorry

A look into spontaneous and cultivated greens of Sicily. Learn how to grow, maintain and harvest a kitchen garden. Understand what it means to bring Cook the Farm home with you. Then get ready for our final party and theater presentation!


foraging for wild greens | how to grow a kitchen garden | Sicilian traditions in fine dining | cooking for a crowd | bringing Cook the Farm back home


local landscapes | the Case Vecchie garden

Guest presenters

Michelin starred chefs from Ciccio Sultano’s Duomo ristorante | local forager Calogero Vallone



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